Thursday, November 26, 2009

Julie & Julia... Isn't this what every foodie wants to do?

I have an incredible urge to take a week off, drop everything in my life and subject myself
to a marathon of cooking. After eagerly anticipating watching "Julie & Julia" on my last
flight, I can not help but think it was more than a coincidence the "En Route" magazine in
the seat pocket in front of me was 'The Food Issue'!

Until now, the closest I've come to my own "Julie & Julia" experience was prepping for my
last Pampered Chef Open House. I frantically made recipe after recipe- whipping, chopping,
baking and simmering, sampling, tossing, adjusting and redoing. Making my way through the
new cookbook, though significantly smaller than "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", I
mentally noted the keepers, what to tweak for next time, and what to forget. Having never
before forced myself to make a selection of recipes in this manner, it was truly a unique
experience. There was this drive that I MUST finish, or I MUST get it right that caused me
to try, try and try again until I was proud of my dish.

Have you ever had the desire to cook your way through a cookbook? Does flipping through a
new Rachel Ray magazine trigger a desire to rush out and buy every ingredient you need to
lock yourself in your kithen for the rest of the day?

For me, reality sets in shortly after. Can I afford all those ingredients? When do I really
have time to make all this? Who will eat all this food? Perhaps, it is time my friends and I
started to throw dinner parties, rather than heading out for Tuesday Tapas!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Real"ator Encouragement for a New Home Owner

I don't know about you, but I rarely* look at mail from realtors. Whether its targeted - "I have buyers for your home" - or just the glossy, guy-on-the-bus stop post card, it hits the blue box. On a related note, one of my managers suggests you should never buy a house whose face you could sit on. Seems like solid advice to me!

* Rarely. Up until a few months ago, I NEVER looked at this mail. Karl is not the realtor I used when I bought my house, but at this point, he's definitely the realtor I would go to when I want to sell. An acquaintance I met through a friend, he's also young and lives in our neighborhood. He's been a great resource if I have questions - he suggested making my basement reno a priority and a roofing company when my roof took on sieve-like qualities.

These, very important, points aside, I simply enjoy his marketing tactics. No glossy post cards or park benches, just the odd letter. Honest and sharing some personal and market updates. As a bonus - a pizza courtesy of Karl and one of his friend's local pizza joints!

I believe word of mouth and personal referrals are important in real estate. This is where you get your business, but there aren't enough good realtors out there so the good ones get even better lipservice and stand a part even more.

Ask me to name a realtor when I moved here, I would have shrugged and said "I don't know, I used so-and-so". Not because I felt you should, but I didn't know anyone to recommend. I believe there are not enough good realtors out there... why else don't we all automatically know someone when asked for a recommendation? Ask me for a good restaurant, and I'll tell you 5.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So Much For Raking Leaves!

Another fantastic weekend with great weather, and I am finally starting to feel like my house is ready for winter. That is, except, for one extremely visible chore I haven't yet completed. My lawn is several layers deep in leaves from the two large soft maples in my yard, and I haven't raked them yet. While time hasn't been overly available, I discovered a larger problem...

There are no leaf bags in the region!

2 weeks ago, I went looking for bags... grocery stores, hardware stores and Shoppers Drug Mart. Everyone is sold out! The cashier at Canadian Tire told me today they are not only sold out, but they are backordered several weeks! Weeks.... by the time leaf bags arrive, there will be snow on the ground!

Looks like this Savvy Homegirl won't be raking her leaves this fall!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

That Fall To-Do List.. Not Making Much Progress

I started with very good intentions! You'll remember way back in September, I made my "to do" list for the fall, and I was keen to get everything done the next available weekend. Not surprisingly, I haven't had an available weekend since then!

Yet I have still managed to stroke a few off the original list:

· Make a fall wreathe

· Change the weather stripping on the side door - I can SEE the light from outside, that can't be good for the heating bill!

· Clean the eaves - still some shingles to be removed

· Bring in my geranium and pull up my dahlias

· Pull up the rest of my carrots

· Paint my porch lights (the hose chipped some paint off them)

· Touch up paint and seal around windows where its needed

· Put away the patio furniture

  • Lacquer crab apples - is this even possible???!
And a few I've added since:
  • Rake leaves (I've collected 4 bags so far, there's probably 14 left...)
  • Heating ducts completed for bathroom
  • Final roof caps

The crab apples... I have collected a few to lacquer, but I didn't get them off the tree in time to try making crab apple jelly. I have heard you have to get the apples before they are too ripe and/or fall off the tree, because that's when the worms get them. Had I done that, it also would've saved my back. I picked up 2 bins full of apples on the weekend, and that was only from one side of the tree! Besides looking pretty for 2 weeks of the spring, I can not see any other value in ever planting a crab apple tree in your yard. Of course, my crab apple tree is owned by the City, so I can not cut it down or do anything with it, except clean up the mess it makes, of course. I'm terrified someone is going to slip on a rotten, mushy apple on the sidewalk and break their neck!

The goal for this weekend? Stroke the remaining items off the list. It's a big goal... but not unthinkable. Like every farmer in Ontario, I'm wishing for good weather this weekend!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How to Make A Zombie Costume

Another Halloween, come and gone!! After attending costume parties all weekend, I had to share some pictures and my masterpiece! I love Halloween after all, so I could not share my costume with all of you!

It wasn't until last Monday that I found a costume I felt truly "inspired"about! Taking a cue from one of my
Brownie's homemade zombie costume, I set out last week to complete my own representation of the living dead.

When it was all ripped and torn, "wounded" and "bleeding", I was quite happy with the results. At Friday's Halloween
party, I was one of few with a homemade costume, and I enjoyed compliments from strangers. All that was missing was an offer for an 80's zombie flick!

Surprisingly, the nasty wounds and gashes on my hand, arm and shin were easy to create. After doing some research online (there are some great sources if you google "zombie makeup"), I decided to make my wounds with my own household products, rather than purchasing the latex and fake blood from the party store.

I can honestly say, this is one of the most successful "do it yourself" experiences I've had! Here is what I had in my 'zombie toolkit':
  • white glue (like the kind you had in kindergarten)
  • tissue or toilet paper
  • foam brushes and sponges
  • corn syrup
  • red food colouring - you can also add some green and yellow to darken the 'blood'
  • red & black tempera paint
  • white face paint - bought at a party store
  • black eyeshadow - for dark hollows around your eyes
  • hairspray & comb - tease and spray your hair 'messy'
I used the tips from this website about zombies. Basically, all you need to do it use thin coats of glue, allowing it to dry between coats, to make the base of your wound. Then, start adding strips of tissue (rip the 2-ply into single sheets first) to 'build' the wound. Add a couple of strips, allowing to dry between applications also, and let it dry hard once its as thick as you desire. Once its dry, apply paint and fake blood with the sponges and brushes to achieve the texture and 'gore' you desire.

* Just make sure wherever you are making your wound is hair-free, because it will be when you rip the wound off and it will HURT!!