Tag Archives: Ice Cream

Taking Stock No.4

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Enjoying a walk through some of Old Quebec’s beautiful, narrow streets.

Hi folks,

As you have probably noticed, I’ve been out of the look since I last wrote to you about our woes with our new downstairs neighbors. They have not gone away and neither has the mental exhaustion caused by the situation. Many times over the pas few months I have found myself dreaming of packing up and moving to an isolated corner of anywhere but here. It would be quite easy to do and no one would ever find me. My name is so common that I wouldn’t even have to change it in order to never be found, even by the aforementioned pesky neighbors should they decide to attempt to hunt me down. That would be a cowardly thing to do though and highly inconvenient for My Darling who is quite attached to his job and his family (it’s not that I’m not attached to my folks, we’re just not even nearly as tight-knit as My Darling’s family is). He did, however, manage to whisk me away to Quebec City with him for a few days when he went there to attend a conference at the beginning of the month, which did me a great deal of good and allowed me to get my creative juices flowing. Then, when we got back, miracle of miracles, Spring appeared and I have been able to spend increasing amounts of time outside. The leaves are all out, the flowers are blooming, I planted my flowers and bought our strawberry plant and I am looking slightly less pasty. Phew…the work downstairs should finally be done next week, which is an excellent thing because I am becoming less and less tolerant of the group of loud, cigarette smoking, belching, cursing men who show up every morning at 7:00 and are present until the end of the afternoon. I want my quiet home back, I to not have to worry about parking in my own driveway for fear of puncturing my tires on a nail or being trapped in my parking space by a delivery of sheet rock or some worker’s pickup truck. For crying out loud, we found a worker’s discarded t-shirt in our parking space this morning! Ugh…Anyhow, I thought one of my ‘Taking Stock’ posts would be a good way for us to catch up and hopefully I will be able to get my creative juices flowing freely enough once things calm down to come back with another post soon. In the mean time though, you can head over to my photography blog Old Orchard Photography for more about my trip to Quebec and to see a few more of the photos I took there.

Enjoying: being able to walk out the door without having to pile on more layers than an onion.
Listening: to The Merry Widow on CBC Radio 2.
Wearing: my GAP striped sundress. I bought it at an outlet store in Las Vegas last Spring and it is my go-to dress as soon as the warm weather rolls around. It is just as comfy as a pair of pajamas, but completely appropriate to wear out around town as well!

Making: time for myself.

Cooking: Korean burgers for My Darling and his friend when they get back from their bike ride.
Drinking: Iced tea made with our Fortnum and Mason teas. We just emptied our jug of Irish Breakfast and I’m going to ice some Countess Grey next.
Feeling: relieved that the renovations downstairs are finally almost finished.
Reading: ‘Her Majesty: 60 Regal Years’ by Brian Hoey, the first biography of The Queen I have ever read and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I have also recently torn through Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ as I mentioned in my previous post and Camilla Gibb’s ‘This is Happy’ which I highly recommend.

Looking: forward to my vacation in Poland with My Darling next month.
Wishing: we still had a deaf lady in her 70s for a downstairs neighbor. Boy, do we ever miss Mrs. L.
Liking: eating breakfast with My Darling on the back terrace under our red parasol on weekends.
Waiting: for the next bunch of strawberries growing on our plant to ripen.

Snacking: on dark chocolate raspberry Lärabars
Coveting: some Prince Edward Island therapy. I would wish for August to come quickly, but I want Summer to drag on for ages!
Hearing: no construction noise, praise God.
Learning: to not let myself be intimidated by bullies.

Loving: how My Darling has been perking up since he has been able to take his bike out for long rides again.
Watching: not much, really! It’s been far too nice out to watch TV.
Admiring: nature, it’s amazing how quickly things start growing and blooming when the warm weather finally settles in!
Getting: ready to make my first batch of homemade ice cream of the season! It’s going to be matcha, made with this recipe

Wondering: when I’ll have time to go shopping before our vacation.
Playing: piano when I can, which is not often. Racket downstairs = not conducive to learning a new instrument.
Noticing: how badly I needed my week off two weeks ago to ground myself.
Giggling: over My Darling’s waddle when he walks around in his cycling shoes.

Bookmarking: by folding the corners of the pages of the books I read. I don’t spend enough time online to bookmark sites lol
Deciding: on where we’re going to stay in Warsaw.
Hoping: for less drama in my life
Contemplating: jogging with a group of our local Running Room store when we get back from vacation.

Wanting: a new pair of running capris, I noticed several holes in my favorite pair when I got in from my jog on Thursday…
Thinking: about my dad a lot recently and how happy I am that the lupins I planted in front of his grave three years ago are finally going to flower!
Knowing: that my father would be proud of how I’ve handled the difficult situation with our new neighbors so far.
Opening: my heart to as much kindness from others as I can in order to heal myself from the unkindness I have suffered recently.

Feeling: energized and positive for the first time in months.
Marveling: at how warm, sunny weather can help turn peoples moods around within a matter of days.

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Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (Our Lady of Victories) church in Old Quebec
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I’m back!

Well, hello there!

Sorry about the long dry spell between posts, but we were on vacation for a week at the beginning of the month (my last post actually went up the day before we left!) in Las Vegas and at the Grand Canyon and things have been nuts here since we got back! I just finally got through all of my vacation pictures and will write a separate post for them. The Grand Canyon was absolutely stunning and it would be a crime not to give it all the attention it deserves. As for Vegas, it was fun, but we are not gamblers (we spent all of 6$ in the casino at the last hotel we were in lol) so we had our fill of being in a heavy gambling environment by the time we left, but the shopping was great and the hotels there are seriously impressive in terms of size and amenities. It was also very easy to get some good food there and coming from me, that means a lot since I am a serious food and am known for not enjoying American food at all any place south of Massachusetts. I apologize to any Americans reading this, but I am not big on fried food at all and  there is also the fact that high fructose corn syrup makes me break out in itchy hives and you guys put a ton of the stuff in your food.

More about our vacation in another post though,  I’m here to update you on what I’ve been up to since we got home, which has been gardening and cooking!

I have also been keeping up with the growth of the buds on our maple tree and as I suspected, by the time we were back from our vacation two weeks ago, there were miniature leaves on the branches!

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Maple tree leaves first week of May
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Maple tree leaves first week of May

And this is what our lovely Sugar Maple looks like now, with its pretty much full-grown leaves, just one week later:

Maple tree leaves second week of may
Maple tree leaves the second week of may

This picture was taken from the same angle as the previous one, so you can see just what a difference a week can make, especially when a perfect combination of drop dead gorgeous weather and Spring showers are thrown into the mix.

The aforementioned perfect Spring weather also allowed me to get some gardening done! I am not an experienced gardener since our rambling old duplex is my first non-rental home. I have never before had any type of garden that I have had a free rein with, so I have been going at the gardening thing slow and steady. The first summer I was here I planted some lupine seeds that I brought home from a vacation to Prince Edward Island and courageously planted a lavender plant that I tried to keep in the house, but that Quinn kept eating. I squealed with excitement last Spring when the lavender survived the winter and the lupines grew. The lavender did wonderfully throughout the Summer, but a local cat began using the scraggly little cedar shrubs in our front garden as a urinal. The sturdiest lupines were unfortunately growing right in front of the shrubs and eventually lost their battle with the cat pee and I nearly cried. Before we left on vacation I yanked out the yucky, partially dead cedar shrubs (they liked the cat pee about as much as the lupines did, but had the advantage of being far less tiny, so were not completely dead) to make it clear to the cat that he would have to go and pee in someone else’s front garden and crossed my fingers hoping that the lupines would come back. Just like last year, the lavender woke up from its Winter hibernation and shortly thereafter, the lupines miraculously poked their way out of the ground. More gleeful hopping around ensued and my Darling gave me a goofy grin and shook his head at my enthusiasm.

Since I managed to keep my first plants alive for two seasons, I decided that it would be safe for me to spend some real money on more plants. I therefore headed out to Pépinière Jasmin, where my mother has been purchasing more of her gardening fare for years. It is also where the stunning St.Joseph’s Oratory buy their flowers, gardening tools and earth. I decided to plant all of my own flowers in my pots this year instead of buying the pépinière’s arrangements and I also bought a bleeding heart which I planted in our front garden where the cedars used to be. It was quite a job digging the hole for the bleeding heart and cutting through all the old cedar roots, but I did it on my own and was darn proud of myself for pulling it off! I did all of my shopping and planting last Thursday. There is no sign of last year’s offending feline as of yet.

One of my flower pots for the front of our house.
One of my flower pots for the front of our house.
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The bleeding heart in our front garden.
The flower pot for our front balcony.
The flower-pot for our front balcony.

I’ll post some more pictures of our flowers pots once they have grown in a bit, maybe in about a month.

Now, for my current favorites! As usual most of them are food related!

1- I tried my hand at making pickles the weekend we got back from vacation since they had some eight packs of Canadian greenhouse grown pickling cucumbers on sale at Provigo and Loblaws. I used this recipe from The Creekside Cook and they turned out pretty good, however I would suggest cutting the quantity of salt by a quarter to one half as my batch turned out a bit too salty. I poured some of the brine out and replaced it with water and the pickles tasted much better afterwards. They are still nice and crispy after a week in their jar.

2- I also decided to try making my own ice cream last Friday since my Darling owns an ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt machine and naturally brought it with him when we moved in together last year. I made a batch of this chocolate gelato as a surprise for him and oh, my goodness did we both ever gobble it up! We will never be buying ice cream at the grocery store again. You do not need to change a thing in this recipe, it is absolutely perfect. the only thing I will be doing any time I make it will be adding some cinnamon or cardamom to it for my own tasting pleasure.

3- Fortnum and Mason’s Chai tea made the traditional way with milk and one cube of raw cane sugar. You will never see Chai tea the same way again, I swear.

4-My LK Bennett Marlene Fitted Dress, which I splurged on in Las Vegas. We do not have LK Bennett stores, so I took the opportunity to shop at the one in Las Vegas and bought my first piece of their clothing. I am so, so glad I splurged. The dress fits my curves like a glove and I wore it for nearly twelve hours last Saturday to my future sister in law’s bridal shower and the ensuing drinks and dinner evening and still didn’t want to take it off. LK Bennett’s clothing is a bit on the pricey side, but they often have sales which are worth keeping an eye out for. Forget their shoes unless you have very narrow feet though. I can’t even fit my toes into most of their footwear.

5- This beautiful rendition of This is The Day the Lord Has Made by John Rutter. The most beautiful recording of it is by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011. It is totally worth a listen and a watch, I am often moved to tears and goosebumps by it This is the day John Rutter – YouTube.

There, I’m all caught up on the regular stuff! I’ll be back soon with my vacation post, including some favorites for anyone wanting to visit Vegas and the Grand Canyon!

Good food (including ice cream!) and exercise!

Hello everyone, I hope you had a wonder Easter, for those who celebrate it! I had a family and food filled weekend and somewhat miraculously managed not to over eat! Thank goodness for self-control!

Things are back to normal after a nice four-day weekend I  have fallen back into my routine, which includes plenty of cooking and exercise! Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not an exercise nut, but I do enjoy my runs and am currently running eight kilometers in 48 minutes on slightly hilly circuits and in 51 minutes on my new, more steeply inclined Westmount circuit. I ran it for the second time today and am quite proud to announce that I shaved 11 seconds off my previous running time on it! I’m gonna have glutes of steel pretty soon! Right now, I’m doing my hill work run once a week and a lighter run once or twice a week depending on the weather and how I’m feeling.

A very important part of my feeling good enough to exercise is naturally to eat well, which is why I’m very happy that I enjoy cooking! We very, very rarely eat any processed food at our place. We keep two emergency pizzas in the freezer and two bags pierogies as well. I made pierogies myself once, but ended up losing it because of how damn long it took me to get it done, so never again unless I have an army of helpers including my Polish mother-in-law and two Polish friends! Aside from that though, I buy everything fresh and as local as possible and make as many things as possible from scratch. My challenge for yesterday was my second ever batch of Bigos, or Polish Hunter’s stew (can you tell my darling is Polish?). It is a delicious and hearty mix of sauerkraut, venison, lamb or pork, beef, bacon, polish sausage, cabbage, prunes, mushrooms and I threw some carrots in yesterday as well because I had some left in the fridge from last week that I didn’t want to lose. I had a lot of fun making it like the first time I tried it. Make sure you have a good chunk of time on your hands if you’re going to make this though, because it has to simmer for two to three hours (the longer the better) and the prep time is at least 45 minutes if you’re speedy. It took me two hours, but I am known for being a slow mover…except when I’m jogging! If you want to give making Bigos a try, which I strongly encourage you to do, as it makes a nice, big batch, ages beautifully, keeps in the fridge forever and freezes well, you can find the recipe I use here.

On another note, my Sweetheart also have absolutely no issue with treating ourselves every once in a while and while we can make our own ice cream and sorbet as well (my Darling came with an ice cream machine!), we love going out for ice cream every once in a while. We treated ourselves to our first visit of the season to an ice cream parlor last Thursday while out in the West Island (Pointe-Claire Village to be exact). We saw that the place was open and it was eight degrees and sunny (You know you’re a true Canadian when…), so in we went! We wanted to go out for another ice cream cone tonight because Darling had a rough day at the office and needed a pick-me-up. This time it was one degree, but still more than nice enough for a walk, so we got ready to go out. Then, it started to snow. Darling nearly backed down from the idea of going, but I gave him a nudge and he shrugged and off we went. We know there was a chance the parlor would have closed down for the night by the time we got there and sure enough, they just had. Oh well, off to Starbucks we went instead for a nice hot drink, because by then the wet snow was starting to seep through our clothes. Hey, at least we got our walk in and more hills for me!

If ever you are in Montreal and are looking for some nice places to go for ice cream, here are our favorites:

Kem CoBa ice cream parlor on Fairmount in the Mile End neighborhood on Montreal.
Kem CoBa ice cream parlor on Fairmount in the Mile End neighborhood on Montreal.

1- Kem CoBa This place, I kid you not, has the best ice cream in town and changes their flavors all the time. They make it on the spot with fresh and local ingredients. Give their salted butter ice cream a try, you will not be sorry. They’re open from late April or early May through to mid October and also have the great advantage of being right next to Fairmount Bagels, where some of the best bagels in Montreal are made.

2- Le Bilboquet The second best ice cream in town. Many of their locations close for the Winter, but their Westmount and Pointe-Claire Village locations stay open year-round.

3- Wild Willy’s, a Pointe-Claire Village staple open from March to October. It’s where we got our ice cream last weekend. It’s right by Lake St-Louis on the corner of Cartier and Lakeshore roads though, so be aware that it can get buggy in the Summer, mostly with what I refer to as lake bugs. I’m sorry, I don’t have their scientific name for you, but they’re harmless compared to mosquitoes, of which there are not very many because of the wind coming off the lake in the evening.

There are many other great places to get ice cream in Montreal, but these are our favorites and will keep us from ever setting foot in a Dairy Queen again.

Enjoy!