30 November 2011

the little things

Tonight ends a lovely combination mini-vacation/business trip up in Toronto. Although it is lovely to be living in the same city as family & friends again, being back here always reminds me how much I miss the city. There are just certain things about living in the city - like the art of Sunday brunch,  or weekends exploring unique neighbourhoods, finding new treasures of shops & restaurants and of course, the arts.  I love going to the theatre.  It's one of the things that T would refuse to join me on despite how much I enjoyed it.  It's been forever since I've been in a production but every time I step in to a theatre, no matter how large or small, I remember that feeling.  The anticipation getting in to character in the green room, or finding your mark on stage awaiting the lights to come up, or the moment that you are completely engrossed in this other identity... It's sort of the feeling I get at the start of a race - waiting (usually in the dark) at the starting line trying to find internal focus and feeling the pulse of excitement.

So today was the day to I set aside to spend with my favourite person...me! :) Actually I spent the morning with one of my lovely sales reps followed by a nice chat over lunch with her.  Then some solo afternoon roaming & shopping before I took myself for a wonderful dinner and then, to see Dying City.  As much as I enjoyed the "me-time", it would have been lovely to have had someone to sit and discuss this performance with afterwards.  As many who are close to me know, sometimes I struggle topics that include 9/11 and the war.  After being in NYC that fateful day, being there in that moment and seeing it firsthand, I carry a piece of that horror with me always.  Knowing that this play would touch on the topic made me go in with a bit of trepidation but it ended up that it was completely other moments in this play that caught me, hand to heart, wiping away tears. 

This Christopher Shin play not only starred two amazing Canadian actors but was also directed by a lovely man that I happened to be seated next to for the performance.  The location may have been small but the characters were larger than life and provoked some intense emotions leaving me wishing it wouldn't end.  In the manner of a truly great production, the characters left me wanting more.  Handsome and talented, Sergio Di Zio skillfully portrayed two of the main characters, jumping back and forth between personas and moments in time without any confusion as to which voice he was speaking from.  As "Peter" the brother seemingly lost in his grief, unsure of the boundary between himself and his sister-in-law and as "Craig" leaving to Iraq with his own internal war raging.  In the moment that Lesley Faulkner's character asks her husband if he loves her - the hurt by his lack of response and her raw emotion beating upon him drew tears. That instinctive moment when you are consumed in trying to make that person feel, to evoke some sort of emotional reaction when they seem to have shut down and your heart is shattering.  Or the moment that you learn horrible truths about the person that you love and your chest feels so heavy that you're unsure if you are breathing.  I wasn't expecting that. I have lived through that exact heartbreak.  It truly is a moment that I hope most people don't ever experience firsthand. 


Knowing that it was only an 80min production, there came a time when I knew it had to be wrapping up and I found myself wishing for just a bit more.  I feel sort of the same returning to my hotel room knowing that it's time to leave tomorrow.  When I am here, I feel like I'm meant to come back.  The only reason I ever left Toronto was to marry T and with that chapter closing, I have to admit I feel the draw to return to the city, to the vibrancy.  Perhaps it's the desire to start fresh when we move forward in to new adventures in our lives.  Like the character "Kelly" in tonight's play, sometimes peripheral changes such as packing up memories or painting walls are not enough to allow us to move forward.  Sometimes once we have finished grieving, whether that be the loss of an actual person or the dreams you have for your life, you need to allow the inner voice that speaks within you to guide you in moving forward.  

21 November 2011

It's an honour to be nominated.....

But to be honest it feels even better to win!!! 

I was honoured to be nominated for the Biz X Magazine Oscars among other amazing businesses for The Best Little Retail Shop in Windsor Essex.  Friday was the Awards presentation and well, let's just say it feels really great to win!! 

Here are a few snaps from the evening that I shared with the girls from the store:
Rockin' the red carpet
With my award - just a little bit happy!!

Peggy, Jeanine, Sparky The Fire Dog and me :)
It was a very fun night - we met some great people at our table with wonderful local businesses.  After all the hard work put in over the past few years, it makes me very proud that I have built this successful business.  As I said in my speech, I couldn't have done it without my family, friends and customers.  Thank you everyone and yay me!!! xo

19 November 2011

What we learn from angels

Perhaps they are not really stars in the sky but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy. -Eskimo legend
 
Dear brother, 
I can only hope that the above legend is true - that you are looking down on all of us as we keep you in our heart.  This photo is how I will always remember you - how I will remember us.  It will always be us playing under the stairs on Piche street and trains on Alexandra, going to Cranbrook to look at dinosaurs and dig for bones, family camping trips and Bob's scavenger hunts. Then when I moved to Ottawa, Sunday dinners around the table and discussions about a million topics. I remember when you told me you were going to marry Laleah and then dancing with you at your wedding. I remember your voice telling me about Emma when she was first born, how happy you were to be a father.  There was nothing but love and happiness in your tone.  It's hard not to feel like you were taken too soon. I hope what we can learn from angels is that each day matters - that we can't let a moment go by without appreciating what and who we have in our lives. I still remember the moment I heard - I was in total disbelief. Putting together collages of photos for the service was like seeing our childhood laid out in front of me.  I remember standing in the funeral home and my legs were paralyzed.  I couldn't go to your casket for the longest time - I was not ready to say good bye to you.  You live on in all our hearts and in Emma's smile.  Her strength, her tenacity and her spirit - they are you.  We can only hope that you were there, smiling down on us and keeping a watchful eye.  I promise to tell Emma all the crazy stories, to hopefully give her our love of dinosaurs, to always help her remember her wonderful daddy and yes, I will break out the Beta tapes of our New Years Eve music videos and commercials! Brother, wherever you are please smile down on us and know that we are looking up to the heavens with our love for you.  You live in our hearts forever.  xo

13 November 2011

Cinnamon Maple Bread

There is always something comforting about a warm mug of coffee and a slice of something delicious.  My mom always made various forms of coffee cake or breads (zucchini, banana etc) when we were kids.  I've got a lovely coffee date with my girl E in the morning and so after stumbling upon this recipe I decided that it would be the perfect thing to bring along.  Now the recipe was for a loaf of this Cinnamon Maple bread however I could not for the life of me find my loaf pan, hence I decided to use my lovely fluted bundt pan and cut the baking time down to 30min.  

Not only does the flavor of maple warm my fall-loving heart, there are also many benefits of cinnamon in our diets.  Here are a few: 
~ Help with indigestion
~ Mild anti-inflammatory
~ Slows the spoiling of food
~ Diarrhea
~ Sniffing it can improve brain function
~ Improves type 2 diabetes
~ Helps with insulin resistance 


So whether you share the love of all things maple (and by love I mean literally could drink the syrup straight out of the can) or looking for the heath benefits of cinnamon, here is the recipe: 

For the bread:
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup browned butter
  • 1/4 cup cold butter cubed
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  •  
    For the icing:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly whisk in the browned butter.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
In a small bowl, cut the butter and cinnamon together until you have small pea sized chunks.
Fold into the batter.
Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes before icing. To make the icing, whisk together all ingredients. Add more sugar or cream to reach the desired consistency. Drizzle over the top of the bread or spread on individual slices. 


I added another 1/4c of maple syrup - just because I love it so...tasting it now, I would add in some nuts or perhaps do some sort of pecan/walnut/maple filling to layer in before baking.... I didn't have heavy cream to make the icing so I just sprinkled with powdered sugar however tomorrow I may make some fresh whipped cream to bring along and yep, most likely drizzle with more maple syrup!

10 November 2011

Scattered

I've started about four posts over the past week or so but I can't seem to get my thoughts right and/or organized in to a coherent message so I just keep working on them and saving for later.  I guess it's just one of those weeks - a million things on the go and the insanity of the holiday season at our feet.  

It's not like me to be at a loss for words and to be honest there is a lot that I want to say but my own thoughts seem to be a bit jumbled up.  I've been helping a girlfriend sort through some stuff and trying to help her see the brighter side.  Perhaps that is part of the writers block.  


We are in the middle of what I believe is the happiest time of the year - from Thanksgiving to New Years.  It's such a wonderful, beautiful time to be grateful for all the wonderful things in our lives.  It's a time when the colour of the sun is so bright and the crisp in the air is so fresh.  

It's just that time when miracles seem just around the corner, when even with the crisper air the Christmas lights warm you from the inside out and hope is ever present around us.  This season never ceases to amaze the heck out of me.

So since I can't seem to get my own words together, here are a few thoughts that I came upon recently.  Hope to be back with my own words soon.