Sunday, November 30, 2008

Moms Rule

Last Monday was my mom's birthday and two days before the big day I still hadn't found the perfect gift. I was getting a little stressed wondering what to get her. As we were driving back from Blue Mountain I saw a sign for one of our advertisers called, Granny Taught Us How. Their ad is always so cute and my coworkers and I always talked about how much we wanted to visit this store. But its in Violet Hill, where the heck is that? Well, it's somewhere between Collingwood and Brampton! So I veered off and went nuts in this store. It was there I found the cutest handmade rug and bracelet for my mom. For myself, awesome Christmas decor (which I will try and blog about later). My mom loved the gifts but also part of the gift was dinner at my place. Last night I had the family over for my mom's favourite meal - Eggplant Parmesan. I made two different squares for dessert, lemon squares and baklava.
So good!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blue Mountain

I was so lucky to get away this past weekend to Blue Mountain Resort. What a way to get into the Christmas spirit! Mind you, it didn't come easily driving 30 km/hr from Barrie to Collingwood resulting in a 5 hour drive. But once we got past that we woke up to the most gorgeous coating of 3 feet of snow.

The resort has an adorable village of boutiques, restaurants and bars.
Our suite had everything from a jacuzzi to fireplace. Ice wine made it perfect!

We're not into skiing but this get away was perfect. It was the off-season before the slopes are open, so the resort was quite empty and all the restaurants were discounting meals.

Day or night, it was truly beautiful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I didn't think it was possible to appreciate the US anymore now with Obama and Off Beat Cinema, but they did it again....

Straight from 'Vesuvio' winery in Italy is Soprano's wine! I think I'll enjoy this tonight while listening to Little Steven's Underground Garage. Yep, I had to share this before I go all Christopher Moltisanti on it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Southern Tier Brewery

Saturday afternoon we decided to take a trip to a brewery. Microbreweries offer informative tours similar to wine tours only they have an all you can sample policy (not that that's the reason we took it, just sayin'). We found out about a WNY brewery from Mike who had this awesome creme brulee beer, so it piqued our interest. Once we found out the address we plugged it into the GPS and it said that it was 2 and a half hours away. That almost swayed us out of it, but thought, why not? The GPS told no word of a lie, it was a very long trip. At one point I kept driving down the road and ended up in Pennsylvania. But we arrived in time for the tour so I'll share some photos.

The tour was filled with middle aged male beer nerds. They were only too excited to ask in depth questions about yeast cultures and details on fermentation.

Probably the coolest thing about this tour was the tasting straight from the cask. This beer was not filtered or carbonated and will be ready to finish and bottle next Monday.

We decided to buy a growler of IPA (India Pale Ale) along with gifts for Mike for Christmas.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

eye on the prize

For Tot's winning costume, the prize was 2 plush pug toys. One was a beanie baby and one a life sized pug. We decided to display the costume on Tot's prize... but I think she may be a little jealous somebody else gets to wear her costume.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Comfort Food #1

I realized it's been a while since I posted a recipe. With the time change and leaves falling from trees it's really feeling like winter will soon settle in. This is the time of year where using the oven warms the home and comfort food feels best. Of course, the ultimate in comfort food is Macaroni & Cheese. After trying so many homemade Macaroni & Cheese recipes I found that many don't have much of a wow factor or are too laborious to be bothered. I came across this recipe and have tried it several times and found it to be the easiest and quickest (as in - get home from work and eat dinner at a reasonable time). From Nigella Lawson's 'Nigella Express'

Macaroni & Cheese
half a small package of shells (or your pasta of choice)
half a brick of aged Cheddar and half a brick of Gruyere (or all Cheddar, of course)
3/4 can of Evaporated Milk
2 Eggs
Sprinkle of Nutmeg (or grating if you actually use fresh)
Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and return to hot pan. While pasta is cooking, put cheese, evaporated milk, eggs and nutmeg in food processor and blitz (or grate cheese & mix everything by hand). Pour cheese sauce over pasta, stir well and season with salt & pepper to taste (admittedly, I add quite a bit of salt, I feel it needs it)
Bake in a large shallow baking dish in a very hot oven for 10 - 15 minutes, or until bubbling and blistered on top. Don't over-bake or it will become dry.
In the photos I added seasoned breadcrumbs for extra flavour - it doesn't come highly recommended.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween 2008

Halloween is over and this one was just as memorable as previous years. It started with the time spent gluing a bald-cap to Nuno's head. This was very labour intensive but turned out amazing.Our theme this year was the movie Taxi Driver. I'm Iris (Easy), Nuno is Travis Bickel and Hot Tot is a NYC Checker Taxi cab.
Believe it or not Nuno and I almost abandoned Tot's costume several times, but as soon as one of us got fed up, the other one would dream up a solution to complete the costume. I'm not sure we will ever try and create a dog costume this involved in the future.

Shaun and Leslie had the most festive and creative Halloween party this past Friday night. Check out this spread!
It was tons of fun with a crowd of somewhat obscure costumes. Like, the new, as of yet to be officially released Green Lantern character universe.

The Halloween fun continued Saturday at Pug-O-Ween. Pug-a-lug Rescue put on a fundraiser as well as costume contest at the leash free dog park. What a turn out they had! And oh my gosh, the costumes. Here are some of my favourites:

this group was the Wizard of Oz.

There was a black pug dressed as Aunt Jemima but we never quite got a photo of her as she wouldn't stop zooming around the park for a photo.

The most memorable moment of this years Halloween was when they called Hot Tot to claim first prize! Yep, she won!!!

What a proud pug mama I am.