Category Archives: Food

Thanksgiving Weekend

Hey girllllllls (and maybe a boy or two), Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! A bit late ’cause that’s how I seem to roll on here lately, but I think you can still be celebrating Thanksgiving week. I’ve still been eating with wild abandon all week. Whoops. I’ve always had my priorities straight.

However these days I’m more thankful for one boy in particular, rather than all the boys.

Anyway, my boy and I had a good weekend. I went to Orangetheory early on Friday, and by early I mean 5:30am if I want to make it before work. That is early, but I tell ya it feels good to get it done and then be free to eat everything all weekend. As I went into the class my favourite front desk lady pointed out that I had hit the 100th class milestone a couple weeks ago and it was actually my 112th class! Crazy! When I came out afterwards she surprised me with a certificate commemorating the occasion.

Uh yeah, I get real sweaty. Don’t judge.

So, that got my day off to a pretty great start. I’ve been working late most nights the last couple weeks because we have a big gala coming up at work this Saturday (however, unlike my old work’s gala, I am NOT planning it alone, I just support, so that’s wonderful) but not on Friday! On long weekends we get off an hour early and I made sure I got all my stuff done so I could take full advantage. Evan and I were heading up to the cottage until family Thanksgiving celebrations on Sunday and we wanted to get up there ASAP. Evan’s mom was staying at our place for the weekend to watch the kitties, since the still nameless Little Kitty is still too young and crazy to be by herself for more than a day (I keep telling Tilly to reign her in but it seems like she supports her behaviour), so I picked her up on my way home and brought her back to our place for the kitty party.

We left for the cottage earlier than usual when we head up on Friday’s but we hit some long weekend traffic and by the time we stopped for groceries, dinner (Mucho Burrito what), etc. by the time we got up there and unpacked it was like 9pm. We just played a game of cribbage on the porch and hit the hay early.

Saturday was dreary and rainy so we went out for breakfast, leisured around inside and read our books and napped. Pretty much a dream Saturday.

The weather cleared up around 4 and it was unseasonably warm (summer finally graced Ontario with its presence in late September and it’s been warm every since) so we hit up the dock and continued our leisure fest.

It actually got kind of hot once the sun was fully out and I was comfortable out there in my t-shirt.

It’s so nice at the cottage this time of year, even though the fall colours aren’t quite at their peak yet. It’s our third Thanksgiving in a row there and I love that it’s become a tradition.

We made dinner around 6, pork skewers and grilled peppers on the bbq (by we I mean Evan, all I did was mix the premade salad).

Don’t be jealous of that boxed Caesar salad but DO be jealous of those bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers! They’re from M&M’s and my friend Joel introduced me to them last weekend and I can’t get enough. I want them at every meal.

After dinner we went for a walk to watch the sunset. It was a good one!

We like to match at the cottage.

Annnnnd then back to the dock until the sun went down.

Followed by more cribbage on the porch with a few drinks until bedtime.

On Sunday we packed up and headed to Evan’s dad and family’s for Thanksgiving dinner (well, lunch). Have I told you lately how much I love eating holidays?!

YASSSS. I look forward to that dinner all year. I love that Evan’s family adds sauerkraut and pork and sausage in addition to all the usual Thanksgiving things. It’s new to me. My family always stuck to the traditional Thanksgiving fare (also delicious!). And we had homemade pumpkin pie for dessert which was amazing as usual.

Evan’s dad has a hobby farm so after lunch we walked around and visited with all the animals, specifically my favourite mammoth donkey Zeke.

This actually marks my 5th Thanksgiving of pictures with him.

Thanksgiving 2016 in my best plaid.

Thanksgiving 2015. Donkey selfie.

Thanksgiving 2014. Whispering sweet nothings.

Thanksgiving 2013 when Zeke’s pal Rosie was still around and photobombing us.

Zeke is 22 and according to the Google donkeys live for 25-30 years so I’m hoping for a few more Thanksgivings with my favourite buddy!

I feel like we have a special bond.

After lunch we drove home and had a sleepover with Evan’s mom, and then on Monday we did brunch with her at our place. Followed by the usual weekend house errands and a quick nap (I napped two out of three days, so not too shabby!).

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Or a great regular weekend if you don’t live in Canada.

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Eating News

I’ve been meaning to do an update on the whole calorie counting thing, and the six week nutritional habits program Evan and I have been doing with Gillian. I can’t believe we’re already on week four and I gotta say, I am noticing some pretty great changes. I have now lost 10lbs since Christmas. YAS QUEEN!

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So, I am pretty happy about that. My clothes are fitting a lot better and I feel more confident in them.

It has not been all or nothing and I am not being super restrictive. I do not feel at all deprived. I’m still eating the world about once a week, but other than that I am prepping all my own food (with Evan’s help obviously). I am running about three times a week for about 45 minutes (doing the 10k runner program –more on this later!), walking nearly every day at lunch, following Gillian’s nutritional habits, and I am still tracking everything in MyFitnessPal. And in MyFitnessPal I’m actually looking at my macros (protein, fat and carbs) as well as calories, mainly because of Gillian’s habits plan, which I have never really done before. These little habits are all adding up and I’m starting to see results and it’s exciting and motivating!

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The habits are similar to a IIFYM (if it fits your macros) type of plan, so a lot of this may be common knowledge to you. I’m a n00b though so bear with me.

When I last left off, we were on our first habit: try to eat 30-40g of protein each meal. I have been really focusing on that and am successful for most of my meals.

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Our next habit was to concentrate on eating a minimum 15g of (healthy) fat at each meal (as well as keeping the protein habit), so eating foods like avocado, cheese, nuts and seeds (or nut and seed butter), olive or coconut oil, higher fat dairy, and higher fat fish and meats. The 15g is the recommended amount for optimal health and to keep you full between meals.

This habit came up in the week of Winnie and I was definitely not perfect with the healthy fats. I fell off the bandwagon a bit eating-wise and I also did not go to the gym at all this week.

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It was also my birthday week so there was a lot of extra fat in the form of cake. It wasn’t ideal, but it was what it was.

The fat though is interesting, because before I started looking at this I found that I was either not eating enough fat (like chicken breast and vegetables and rice for example — no fat there), or way too much fat (like if I had a cupcake). Taking out the low fat dairy and switching to higher fat Greek yogurt and cottage cheese has helped me. And now if I have a salad for lunch, for example, I will add olive oil dressing, sunflower seeds, and some goat cheese until I hit at least 15g. If I have leftovers from dinner for lunch that don’t include much fat (for example, lentils and rice), I will add half an avocado.

The third week’s habit was to just be mindful of carbs.

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Gillian is really about not labeling certain foods as “bad” which I appreciate, but basically the habit is to just be mindful of how many grams of carbohydrates we are eating. The recommendation is that we consume a moderate amount of carbs and that we get most of them from non-starchy fruits and vegetables, so therefore the flowering parts of plants (lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers and tomatoes) and non-processed foods.

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The reasoning behind this is non-starchy foods are packed with nutrients but low in calories, so they provide us with the fuel we need and satisfy our appetite because we can consume more while losing weight or maintaining weight (uh, that’s basically a quote from Gillian, I wouldn’t know what I was talking about without her).

I needed some help here because we tend to eat a lot of starchy carbs. This habit is forcing me to eat my protein and fat first, and if I’m not full, then I can carb it up. I’m not super strict on the carb thing and I’m still eating starchy carbs like rice and sweet potato, but I am eating less of them and I’m cutting down on my bread consumption significantly. It’s forcing me to be more mindful for sure.

Because of the new habits I have switched my morning oatmeal (super carby and I was starting to get sick of it anyway) to two hard boiled eggs (with Franks) and then a sliced banana mixed with a handful of nuts and coconut chips (or ribbons as mine are called), or sometimes Greek yogurt. Still keeps me full all morning, it meets my protein and fat needs, and I’m being carb conscious. Wins all around.

It’s a lot to think about honestly, so I’m still getting the hang of it. I still usually eat a Girl Guide cookie after lunch, and as I said I am going out to eat the world about once a week and I will eat pretty much anything on the menu. But I think I am following the 80/20 healthy/non-healthy ratio right now, which has not been a habit for me for a long while.

This week’s habit is shaping our kitchen environment. This one has been a biggie for us because if we happen to have junk food around it is typically easily accessible (like if we have chips they might be out on the counter) and then we’ll see them all the time and want to eat them. And if we had vegetables sitting in an opaque container in the fridge or down in the crisper we might forget they’re there and not eat them, but if they’re handy maybe we will! So I am being conscious of this and I have also cleaned out my snack drawer at work because if snacks are within my reach I will snack all day long. Just because they’re there.

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But if I have to go downstairs to the cafe to get a snack, I am less likely to make that trek because chances are my laziness will win.

One other habit that I have imposed upon myself is to make sure I pack a lunch every day that I look forward to eating. If I don’t take a good lunch that I’m excited about, I feel sad all day and like I have nothing to look forward to. And then I might go out and get something trashy instead.

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So I try to make sure my lunches are healthy and fit my protein/fat macros, but still something that I really want to eat.

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That’s how I look when I’m eating my salad (which I am genuinely excited about because it has the dressing and goat cheese in it).

So I guess that’s all. I’m trying to eat more consciously and I’m running a bit and things seem to be improving in the svelteness department, so, hurrah.

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The Russian Redo and Winnie’s Birthday

It was pretty clear in my last post that Russia left a (literal) bad taste in my mouth. Obviously we didn’t pick a great restaurant. But that isn’t Russia’s fault! It would be pretty unfair to judge the food of an entire country based on one experience at a bad restaurant on a completely different continent.

I know that Russia has to be delicious, so I can’t leave it as the stain on my eating the world (in Toronto) experience. I can’t have myself associating dumplings with those awful pelmeni we ate when every other dumpling I’ve come across has been a dream.

So Russia needed a do-over. Unfortunately, I can’t just fly over there and try out the food. And unfortunately, every Russian restaurant in Toronto seems to be a banquet hall, which I would rather not go back to.

A coworker from Poland mentioned to me that the European grocery store Yummy Market has really good authentic Russian food (and eastern European in general), so I was very interested in checking it out. Yesterday I hit that up and he wasn’t kidding, they had all the things. It was like the Whole Foods of Europe. I even saw the Georgian-style pizza and dumplings we had when we ate Georgia. It was awesome in there and I am totally going back. There are two locations, North York and Thornhill, if you happen to be in the area.

I scored a bag of pelmeni (frozen but my coworker said they are very good and just like the real thing).

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And a couple of fresh meat blintzes from the deli.

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Although the ones we had at the Russian restaurant weren’t terrible, the meat inside them was kind of weird (like everything else) and I thought they could be better. They deserved a second chance.

The boiled pelmeni looked very similar to the ones we had at Kiev, so I was a bit apprehensive at first…

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But they were WAY better. The meat inside was similar, but more fresh and much, MUCH better tasting. No weird greasy aftertaste. I am so glad we tried them again!!! I have to say that pierogies are still my favourite dumpling, but I am glad I can make an informed decision on that now!

And the blintzes were amazing. Also way better and completely exceeded my expectations. We served both with lots of sour cream (as you do – but no dill!).

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Ridiculously good. I have a feeling I will be regularly going back to Yummy Market. I also got a couple of apple cinnamon blintzes for dessert. The meat ones I pan fried, but the apple ones I heated in the oven. Also delicious. I have been missing out never having those before! I’m so glad we tried again. I will be adding an amendment to my original post.

I also grabbed a beet salad and a Ukrainian cherry  shortbread tart for my Nana, who I was visiting afterwards. She is doing so well! I didn’t get a picture of her because she had some minor surgery recently on the back of her head and she hasn’t been able to get her hair done, so she is not happy about that. Next time!

In other eating news, one of my coworkers, Sami, is from Pakistan and somehow our conversations always turn to food. I was telling him that Evan often makes his nana’s Indian lentils and rice and how much I love it, so Sami told me he was going to bring me his own lentils and saffron rice to try, Pakistani style. Last week, he delivered.

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That saffron rice is dynamite! It was so much different than Evan’s lentils and rice.

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Evan’s lentils and rice with turmeric mixed pickle on the side.

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Sami’s lentils and rice.

Different look and much different flavour also. Evan tends to cook his lentils down a bit more, and his spices are a bit more subtle. I enjoyed Sami’s a lot and it was interesting to try a different style. I love it when people bring me food! Probably my favourite thing.

Finally, in non-eating news, it’s this little kitty’s birthday month!

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Winnie turns 22 sometime in November. I am not sure exactly what day her birthday is, so I just like to say it’s the first. I can’t believe she’s 22! She still acts like just a little kitty. Here are my two favourite past blog posts about Winnie:

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She is the best. Nana too.

Have a great weekend! Evan and I are going to a murder mystery bed and breakfast with a bunch of friends, so I have a feeling I’m going to be pretty excited to tell you about it next week.

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Taste of the Danforth (Greece)

If you missed it, I am on a mission to eat authentic food from every country in the world, right here in Toronto! I have now created a handy map to show which countries I’ve eaten, the one I’m currently eating, and the ones left to eat.greece copy

I am a visual learner so I like to see what’s eaten and what is left. A lot of green is what is left… This is not exactly a quick project, but I am making some progress on the eating. You can find all past recaps here.

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My next eating the world adventure was Greece! This weekend was Taste of the Danforth, a Toronto street festival celebrating Greek food and culture.

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I love love love Greek food but I’ve never been to Taste of the Danforth before and I knew that was where I needed to go to truly eat Greece. It worked out that Eric was visiting while it was on, as he’s never been either, and we also got my friend Hannah to join us.

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Hannah missed the glasses memo.

Danforth Avenue in Toronto has been known for years for its many Greek restaurants. There are other types of restaurants along the street as well, more have popped up especially in recent years, but Greek is still the majority. Taste of the Danforth started 22 years ago when restaurant owners took their food to the streets as a group to entice visitors to the area. It became a thing and has turned into Canada’s largest and Toronto’s most popular street festival.

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Meaning it is crowded. It is very crowded. The entire street shuts down to traffic, and the restaurants line the streets with their food stands.

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Mostly Greek but there are some Italian and Asian stands around as well.

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You can essentially just eat your way down the street.

There are also various entertainment things happening along the street, like a live band every few blocks.

The food at Taste of the Danforth is pretty cheap, but it was so crowded that it felt like wading through a mosh pit, and I thought eating would be tricky because I would keep getting bumped. If someone knocked my gyro out of my hand I would not be happy about it. The lines for food were also very long. So when we happened across the Greek restaurant Pappa’s Grill we decided to try to get a spot on the patio, which we assumed would be impossible. It was PACKED. I still don’t exactly know how this happened, but we were able to score a table for four immediately. We got a prime location on the patio and it was absolutely perfect because we could sit and enjoy our food and drink beer and people watch like crazy.

Our table started with the spanakopita, the Greek spinach pie!

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Spinach, feta cheese, onion, and egg wrapped in phyllo pastry, usually eaten as a snack in Greece.

We also ordered the melanzano, a dip of baked eggplant with red onion and garlic.

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With fresh pita for dipping. In Greece I believe this dip is called melitzanosalata, but either way it’s delicious. This eating the world challenge has been opening me up to eggplant dips and I can’t get enough.

I also cannot get enough of chicken souvlaki. If I am ever at a Greek restaurant I cannot resist ordering the souvlaki.

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I just love that it comes with tzatziki (Greek sauce), rice, Greek salad AND potatoes. And those potatoes are usually my favourite kind, too. It was awesome.

So, good times at Taste of the Danforth. Crowded, yes, but also delicious and highly entertaining.

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And can you spot Eric in the above photo?

PS – I have also had really, really great Greek food at Colossus Greek Taverna in Mississauga.

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Nana, Chromeo, and Parent Parties

My little brother Eric is visiting from BC!

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I saw him about a month ago when I was in BC, but it was only for one night so I have been looking forward to a more lengthy reunion with him. He’s still only here for 9 days though, so we have been squeezing in all the fun activities.

I picked him up from the airport last Tuesday, and coincidentally his flight from Kelowna came in at the same time mon bestie Lisa was dropped off at the airport for her flight back to Calgary. We were able to sneak in a little airport rendezvous.

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I know Eric was disappointed he wasn’t going to be in Ontario the same time as Lisa, so even seeing her for 10 minutes was a good start to his trip.

The first activity on the agenda was visiting our amazing Nana. We met my dad and my Aunt Nancy at her home on Wednesday and Nana was so, so excited to see Eric. It’s been a while and he’s grown a lot since the the last time. I’m surprised she recognized him.

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Touchin’ his face!

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Touchin’ my face! She likes to alternate the face touches so we don’t feel left out. Still can’t get over how good she looks. And I don’t even mean how good she looks for her age (101!), I mean how good she looks in general.

Eric stayed with my dad for “boys’ time” the next couple of days while Evan and I were working, and I picked him up on Friday evening for party time. First we hit up Taste of the Danforth with Evan and my friend Hannah, but that is going to be a separate post about eating the world (Greece!). From the Danforth we caught the subway over to Nathan Philip’s Square (Toronto City Hall) for Panamania!

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The Toronto sign was added as part of the Pan Am Games hype and I’ve heard some people complaining that it’s tacky, but I am really liking it. I hope it stays after the games are over.

I mentioned that Toronto Harbourfront had free concerts every night while the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games are on, and Nathan Philips Square is doing the same but on a bit of a bigger scale. Friday night was Chromeo!

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I love them. I used to listen to them back in 2011 when I first started running, so some of their earlier stuff made me feel like breaking into a jog and running around the crowd. Alas, I wasn’t wearing a sports bra, and we all know I can’t just break into a run without the proper gear.

It was super packed, but they had a really great set up with several screens, and the audio was good also, even though we were closer to the back.

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I usually like to get as close as I can, but it was pretty rammed so we were fine staying back a bit. Both Eric and I could not stop dancing and Hannah was like “You realize you two are the same, right?” Oh yeah. We realize.

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Bra strap! Y u no stay in my shirt?

It was a goooood time.

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And you know they played Jealous!

I am really loving this free concert thing #chromeo #toronto

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If you don’t know Chromeo, you may know that song because it’s all the rage right now. I don’t think they played their other favourite song of mine, Don’t Turn The Lights On (unless it was their first song, we were a few minutes late and may have missed it), but they played Needy Girl, Hot Mess and Fancy Footwork, so I was happy. They were really great.

The show ended with fireworks off City Hall.

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We were standing basically right underneath them, so that was really cool. I am loving that Toronto has all of these free events going on! I enjoy fun on the cheap. Saturday was the Roots! I heard they were awesome. And tonight is Jann Arden, so if anyone happens to hit that up let me know how it is! We’re going to a Jay’s game or I’d be all over that.

On Saturday Eric, Evan and I drove up to Lisa’s parents lake house to spend the day with Lisa’s parents.

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You know you’re a grown up when you go to someone’s house to hang with their parents. Lisa had already gone back to Calgary, and Heather and Brent (who live in Edmonton) were actually around but at a wedding on Saturday, so sadly we missed them (but I saw them at the beach last week, so that was good). Evan was disappointed to miss out hanging with Lisa’s ‘rents a couple weekends ago, and I knew Eric wanted to see them, and I like to think of them as my second parents, so off we went. They made us a fantastic lunch as soon as we arrived.

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The weather wasn’t the greatest for most of the day, but little Roxy really wanted to go for a boat ride, and who can say no to that face?

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That Roxy has it good and she knows it.

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The boys really enjoyed the boat ride also…

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Just living the dream.

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Eric said he hasn’t been on a boat in years so I know he really liked it.

I also spotted my new summer home.

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That is all one property, I would just like to point out. The house to the left is the guest house. Tough life.

Finally the clouds cleared and we could spend some time hanging in the sunshine.

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Lisa’s dad Phil made us quite the pork loin for dinner. He even staged  it all nice with sliced apples so I could get a good picture of it for the blog.

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He was very excited about it and it warmed my heart.

That pork tasted just as good as it looked!

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It was an excellent dinner. Don’t be surprised if I move in here.

Sunday we had another parent party. We went to my dad and Mona’s for more barbecue (you can never have too many), and don’t be surprised if I move in here either…

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Freakin’ delicious. I never want the summer eating to end (but my pants say yes, it needs to). That was followed by possibly my favourite dessert of all time. Lemon meringue pie. Mona knows where it’s at.

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Ughhhh, I love it. Well it might be tied with homemade cherry cheesecake (my mom’s) but it is up there for sure.

We spent the afternoon in the backyard with this cheerful kitty, Tweety, who suffers from resting bitchface.

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He is pretty cute though.

Like Winnie, he cannot let plants go uneaten.

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But I don’t think he throws up the plants everywhere like Winnie.

My dad (aka Bobby) played his keyboards for us…

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That’s an old pic, but same thing only my dad’s hair is longer and he has four more keyboards and several amps and quite the sweet setup in his mancave. Remember when he sent one of his songs in to some electronica contest and the first prize was to attend a rave in Montreal? I’m still sad he didn’t win that. He is quite an excellent keyboard player. Evan said his playing took Bobby to the next level for him and he is looking at him in a whole new light now.

And then we had a photoshoot in the garden.
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Followed by a hot tub party.

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Thanks for the photo Mona!

It was a lovely afternoon and it finished off a lovely weekend and now you are all caught up.

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Bestie Lake Time

My Bestie Lisa is visiting! (I haven’t linked to her debut post in a while, so just in case you need a refresher on my food soulmate).

Photo from back in May because I just really like our twin shirts.

I think I have seen her more this year than any year since she’s lived in Calgary, and that has been awesome. I start to feel weird if it’s been too long since we’ve seen each other. She is a sister to me and a really good talk with her makes me feel the most like myself and ready to just win at life.

It was pretty late when I picked her up from the airport on Thursday night, so when we got home we planned on just having one glass of wine and a quick catch-up session on the balcony (we’re loud bitches together and we didn’t want to get the mute emoticon from Evan) and then head to bed. Well, you know how it happens with your best friend. One glass of wine becomes two, which turns into Lisa yelling “JUST BRING THE WHOLE BOTTLE OUT HERE!” when I run inside to pee, which turns into it suddenly being 2am and we’ve drank an entire 2L bottle of wine and can’t walk properly anymore. Whoops. Friday morning felt nice. #noregrets

Friday afternoon we headed to Lisa’s parents lake house. I will always love their old cottage where we met (we met skating on the lake, remember), and it will always hold nostalgic memories of growing up…but I have to say it is not disappointing to visit the lake house.

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It is not disappointing at all. And I have to say the swimming is better here than the lake I grew up on. By the way, the difference between a lake house and a cottage is that lake houses are where you live, cottages are where you visit in the summer.

The weather was beautiful and we had such a nice afternoon and evening catching up with her parents. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think of them as almost my own parents, so I just feel very welcome and at home there. They are my people. Case in point:

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Yep.

I was also excited to see little Roxy.

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She is the best dog. She was originally rescued from a kill shelter in America. Apparently the staff kept moving her from shelter to shelter because they wanted her to live, until someone brought her to a rescue in Ontario and Diane and Phil found her. She is the sweetest. They really lucked out with her. And she lucked out with them also, because they absolutely spoil  her.

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I mean, who wouldn’t.

She is quite minxy.

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Her wily feminine ways definitely lure all the boys to the yard.

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Or the neighbours’ tutu-clad female dog, whichever.

We spent the afternoon swimming and hanging out on the deck and had a lot of family reading time. I told my friend Sherrie this and she asked “Do you mean you read aloud to each other?” so just to clarify, no. Though that would have been funny. We all read our respective books, just together in the same area. Still cute.

And we ate a lot, as we do. Lisa’s mom Diane really outdoes herself with food things. When I think of going over there when we were growing up I have a lot of fond food memories. Specifically in the snack department.

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I love red pepper jelly and that is homemade red pepper jelly!

We ate dinner out on the deck, starting with spring rolls!

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Followed by grilled chicken, green (well,yellow) beans, and this delicious Asian-inspired chopped salad that I think is from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry.

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Tis the season of summer barbecues. J’adore.

We happened to be celebrating Lisa’s birthday weekend, so a bunch of our friends came up on Saturday for the festivities. I am going to save those festivities for tomorrow though, as this is getting a little lengthy already.

Hope you had a great weekend!

 

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