Thursday, April 30, 2009

I do NOT love to cook

It's a well-known fact that I do NOT love to cook. I don't hate it, but there are a thousand things I'd rather do than slave over a hot stove... especially when I don't know what to cook. But yesterday, I had a little break at work and I decided to check out a few blogs on my list. (Contrary to the impression you might have got from the last couple of days, I don't do this often at work.) I browsed down to Makin' Projiks and Sarah had posted recipes for what she calls "Throw-Together Meals" but what would be considered haute cuisine in my house. I was inspired to make her easy Greek Pasta dish.

I made a couple of substitutions: I already had pesto at home so I used that in place of the Greek salad dressing, and instead of the tubular pasta, I used the Italian Monument Pasta that I bought in Pisa. Have a look:

Can you see San Pietro? Italy? A gondola? The Leaning Tower of Pisa? The Duomo di Milano? and the Coliseum? Okay, maybe not, but you can see the goodness of all that cucumber, red onion, red pepper, and chickpeas. Oh, it was delicious (if I do say so myself) and there's plenty left over for lunch today. I served it with that old favourite, Cornflake chicken.

And do you spy the loaf of banana bread in the background on the right? Mmmmm... one for work, one for home. These people are getting spoiled.

I can still taste it ~ literally. That's kind of the problem with onions and garlic... Go on over and say hello to Sarah. She has other recipes posted, too. You'll love her!

In other news, while Callie (the stove) was taking all my attention, poor Bernice was being neglected up in the sewing room. No progress on my new little spring quilt because last night was a gym night and between that and all the cooking, whew, I just ran out of time. Tonight is dance class, so nothing will be done this evening, either. Ahhh... the weekend is coming! Can't wait. I get so excited when I have a new project. Don't you?

Other things to look forward to:
  • Today is payday. I had to pay my course tuition yesterday so there's no extra this month, but still...
  • The OnlyChild and I are going to see a production of the Wizard of Oz on Saturday night.
  • It's supposed to get up to 19 ºC, which is 66.2 ºF, this weekend. That is a BIG DEAL for us!
  • I'm getting a pedicure today. One of my students is doing it at school on my prep because she needs to do one more for her cosmetology class. What a great way to spend a prep!
  • Two months until summer vacation.

Yeah, life is good!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Close your eyes and... CUT!

Bernice has a brand new needle and her #37, quarter-inch presser foot.

She's been filled up with good quality, neutral-coloured cotton thread.

I've ~ gasp! ~ taken the ribbon off the Moda Jelly Roll and Charm Pack.

And I started making some simple quilt blocks.

I know, I know... what about the Let it Snow quilt I blogged about many times, including here, and here, and just yesterday? Did you read those words: LET IT SNOW? I think I might be jinxing myself by even thinking about that quilt. It did snow here. All weekend. No, I'm not joking with you! The snow didn't stick around, but I definitely don't want Mother Nature to think I'm extending an invitation, either.
So... out with the Snow and in with Spring. I need to work with pretty colours ~ pinks and yellows and greens and turquoises. The other stuff will wait. Really, it will. And in the middle of summer when I can't stand the heat, I'll take out the Christmassy and Wintery quilts and work on them then.
For now, I just need to get me a bit of Springtime. And maybe, just maybe, the weather will follow suit.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shabby Roses and a Très Chic Skirt

Jenny over at Elephantz has a lovely blog, which I just discovered yesterday through Lola at ...and Sew On. You should go over and visit Jenny because, not only is her blog just beautiful and inspirational, but she also has a gorgeous Block of the Month called Shabby Roses. She has released the first two blocks for us, which you can download (I did ~ click on the picture and you will be taken there). Plus (as if that wasn't enough), Jenny is having a giveaway.
It's not difficult ~ you just have to leave her a comment. So go on... Bousculez... (That's French and I learned it here).

As you know, I have not been terribly productive in the sewing department lately. I should clarify that. I have been somewhat productive in the sewing department, but not at all in the quilting department. Besides my two April BOMs, nothing... rien... has been done on any of the quilts I was supposed to be working on. In fact, since I finished the Let it Snow test block with the appliqued skier, that poor quilt-in-progress has languished on a shelf in my sewing room. It's tragic, I know, but I will get back to it at some point.
On the upside (and there is usually one), I finished my fancy-schmancy Spring Skirt. Have a look below! Here I am posing in my skirt and the new white jacket I bought last weekend. I asked my daughter to take a picture of just the skirt and the shoes, but she got this shot (sans tête, which is just fine since my hair was a disaster!) And feast your eyes on those shoes. They were cheap ~ I bought them at a consignment store and I don't think they've ever been worn!

Here's a close-up of the shoes:

I rarely sew clothes for me (except for Halloween costumes) so this is a real delight. I love red and I think the netting at the bottom of the skirt is a nice couture touch. I saw a lady wearing a skirt with netting like this in Paris and ~ lo and behold ~ I actually had a pattern for one at home! It wasn't a hard pattern, just time consuming.
Yes, I am quite pleased with the whole outfit. I will wear it to the grad ceremonies in a couple of weeks.
Now to get back to that quilt...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tagged on Loser Monday

No, I wasn't playing a game of Tag. And no, I didn't get tagged because I'm slow. And no, I'm not slow because I'm overweight. Sheesh, people.

It's Loser Monday so I thought I'd better do my post before General Geranium comes after me. I weighed this morning, but I forgot to do it before breakfast and shower. The status quo remains, so to speak, in that I haven't lost anything but nothing gained either. I do feel "normalized" now ~ I'm eating more regularly and getting my fruit and veggies in. I still battle a bit with the munchies after work, so I've tried a couple of things: either find something to do not in close proximity to the refrigerator, or start making supper and eat a bit earlier. I need to plan meals better, I know that.

I never did attend a WW meeting, like I said I would. I gave it a lot - A LOT - of thought and decided that I already pay out enough $ for a gym membership and right now I'm not willing to fork out another $14-16 a week for WW. I used to be a WW leader; there really isn't anything they can tell me that I don't know and if I can't do this without them, I have bigger problems. That's my psychobabble justification anyway.

Okay... Tagged! Pat tagged me for a fun game. I have to list 8 things in a few different categories and then I have to tag 8 bloggers to do the same. I won't tag specific people, because I've done that a couple of times already in the past few months, so if you think this is fun, go ahead and join in!

8 things I am looking forward to:
  • Dance class on Thursday night
  • Warm weather and the end of snow
  • Seeing my grade 12 students graduate this year
  • Going to Italy and possibly France next summer
  • Summer vacation... the countdown is on
  • Starting my master's course (next week)
  • Wearing my new skirt (almost finished), jacket, and shoes
  • 3:00 pm when the bell rings (I'm at work... shhh... don't tell anyone)

8 things I did yesterday:

  • Slept until 9:00 (that's very late for me!)
  • Ate a bagel for breakfast
  • Did some sewing on my skirt
  • Wrote another chunk of a learning guide
  • Went to the gym
  • Washed two loads of laundry
  • Watched Desperate Houswives after supper
  • Stayed up waaayyy too late uploading pictures for my first post today

8 things I wish I could do:

  • Finish the novel I started writing 5 1/2 years ago, and
  • Get published
  • Clean up my sewing room so I have more space to actually create something in there
  • Get rid of that pesky extra 15 lbs I'm carrying around
  • Travel more (I have a Places to Visit list and it keeps growing)
  • Live and work in Paris for a year
  • Sing the national anthem at a hockey game
  • Speak French fluently (I get by...)

8 songs that make my toes tap (originally this category was 8 TV shows I like to watch, but I don't watch much TV)

  • I'm Yours by Jason Mraz (current favourite)
  • Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
  • Hey There Delilah by the Plain White Ts
  • In My Life by the Beatles
  • Crazy by Patsy Cline (but I like Norah Jones's version better)
  • Come on Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper (I'm a child of the 80s)
  • Cover of the Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook
  • Five Days in May by Blue Rodeo

Oops, that was 9. Oh well... I have eclectic taste. I could have added 90 more; these were just what jumped into my head while I was typing.

8 blogs to tag:

  • You can tag yourself. I'm not even sure I have 8 regular readers on my blog. I know I have a core fan base of about 4 (thank you; I love you all). Hey, have fun with this. I did!

So, no picture for this post because I'm at work and all the good ones are saved on my laptop at home. But, you've had enough of pictures, haven't you? The earlier post was the last one in which I will brag about my trip. I mean, I've been home for 3 weeks. Is it three? It's time to get back to reality. And, it's time for me to get back to work.

Take care

History 101

Good morning, class. Are you ready for your history lesson? Excellent. Let's begin.

The Pantheon in Rome was built around 126 BC as a temple to the Roman gods. It is the oldest standing domed structure in Rome and has, since the 7th century, been used as a Catholic church. Buried here are two Italian kings: Victor Emmanuel (Vittorio Emanuele) II and Umberto I. The concrete dome is open to the sky ~ the opening is known as the Great Eye.

The Piazza del Campidoglino is located at the citadel area of Ancient Rome. This plaza, designed by Michelangelo, houses the Capitoline Museum and the Temple of Jupitor. The view you see here is of the Terrazzo (or terrace) from the bottom of the hill. As the story goes, enemies, the elderly and disabled children were thrown off the terrazzo onto the dagger-sharp Tarpeian rocks below. I'm pretty sure they don't do that anymore.

This is the Arco di Constantino (Arch of Constantine) at the Roman Forum. It was built to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. The arch spans the Via Triumphalis ~ the road taken by the emperors when they made their triumphal return to Rome after battle. I wonder what route the losers took...?
You may think this is a picture of the Roman Coliseum. You may be wrong. In fact, this is the Teatro Marcello (Theatre of Marcellus). This structure was begun by Julius Caesar and finished by the emperor Augustus, who dedicated it to his favourite nephew, Marcellus. The theatre was later taken over by the Fabi family who saw its strategic value and built a fortress atop it. In the sixteenth century, it was transformed into a palazzo (palace). It now houses luxury apartments and in my next life, I will buy one and live there.

If you're a bit squeamish, I suggest you close your eyes and use your down-arrow button to skim past the next photo. This is the body of Pope John XXIII (23rd), known as "Good Pope John". After his death in 1963, Pope John was buried with the other popes below St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. However, after his beatification, his body was exhumed and moved to the Altar of St. Jerome (upstairs at St. Peter's). The body was found to be remarkably well-preserved, probably due to the airtight marble and zinc coffin in which he was buried. He now rests in this crystal case for the world to see; his face, from what I could gather, is covered with a layer of wax. I found this to be a little bit creepy. I think when I die I would like to be cremated and have my ashes made into a diamond that the OnlyChild will be forced to wear. This can be done ~ go ahead and Google it!

One of the sights on the Appian Way is the tomb of Cecilia Metella. She was the daughter-in-law of Crassus who was Julius Caesar's financier. Her husband also fought with Caesar. The tomb dates from about 50 BC ~ the fortress was built later on. It was amazing to see something that has survived for (counting on my fingers...) over 2000 years!

Tombs and memorials are very, very common sights in Europe, particularly in Italy. This is the Temple of Vesta and Tibernus in Tivoli. This structure dates from the 2nd to 1st century BC.

This, my friends, is Villa Adriana. I know you've already seen a picture of this place, but it's pretty cool. Hadrian’s Villa near Tivoli was built by Emperor Hadrian, starting from 117 AD, as an imperial palace far away from the city of Rome. It is the most extensive ancient roman villa, covering an area of at least 80 hectares.

In the town of Siena, the Palio, a traditional medieval horse race, is run around the Piazza del Campo each year. Ten horses and riders represent ten of the seventeen city wards. In the race, the jockeys ride bareback around the piazza (town square) three times. The square itself is covered with a thick layer of dirt. Before the races, a great parade is held. It's too bad we didn't get to see the races, but they are only run on July 2 and August 16.

One of the architectural wonders of the world, Brunelleschi's Dome sits atop the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Filippo Brunelleschi beat out Lorenzo Ghiberti in a contest to design and build the dome for the church in 1419. The ceiling of the dome, a depiction of the last judgement, was painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari.

What you see in the next picture is a portion of the Corridoio Vasariano (Vasari Corridor) in Florence. It was designed by Giorgio Vasari and built in 1565 for Cosimo de' Medici (of the famous ruling family) to connect the Palazzo Vecchio (the seat of the Florentine government) to the Palazzo Pitti (the residence of Cosimo's court). The corridor allowed the Grand Duke to move securely between his palace and the palace of government. One family, the Mannellis, refused to allow the corridor to pass through their tower or to have the tower destroyed; therefore, the corridor was built to swerve round it on brackets.

Ahhh... the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia (Doge's Palace in Venice). Built from 1309 to 1424, this was the residence of the Doge (duke) of Venice and it housed the political institutions of the Republic of Venice. It is located on the Piazza di San Marco and has a beautiful view of the Venetian Lagoon.

The Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) is one of many covered bridges in Venice. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. The romantic story is that the view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. Really though, by the time the bridge was built, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over and the cells under the palace roof were occupied mostly by small-time criminals. Also, they could barely see any view from inside the Bridge due to the stone grills covering the windows. Another romantic story about the Bridge of Sighs is that any couple that kisses as they are passing under the bridge in a gondola at sunset will have eternal love. Sigh...

Okay, this is not really history; it's literature instead. Here is "Juliet's Balcony" in Verona. You and I both know that 1) Juliet was a fictional character and, therefore, her balcony was also fictional, and 2) Shakespeare never even visited Italy so he didn't choose this to be the balcony. But it makes for a good story, right? Oh Romeo, Romeo. Wherefore art thou Romeo? (I'll bet you have that whole speech memorized! I do.)

This is the original building of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. That's all I have on this picture ~ I couldn't find any more information on the building, but I'll keep looking because I'm curious.

Also in Geneva is the Palais des Nations (Palace of the Nations). This is the biggest UN duty office outside the main headquarters in New York and it is staffed by 1600 people (I would like to be one of them). This building housed the League of Nations beginning in 1936 (the League was disbanded a couple of years later) and in 1966, the European Office of the UN was established here. The giant chair with a broken leg is a 12 metre high, 5.5-ton wood sculpture by the Swiss artist Daniel Berset. It symbolises opposition to land mines and cluster bombs.

The fabulous Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) at the Palace of Versailles is one of the most famous rooms in the world. Built by Louis XIV, the Sun King, in the third phase of building (1678-1684) it is the central gallery of the palace. During the 17th century, Louis XIV used this hall to walk from his private apartment to the chapel; courtiers and staff lined up along the walls to watch and greet him. The gallery was also used for court and family events, such as balls. The Hall of Mirrors is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919 and it is still used for important state visits.

Les Invalides in Paris is a group of buildings containing museums and monuments all relating to French military history. Originally it was a hospital and retirement home for wounded war veterans, and it still fulfills this function. It was built, beginning in 1670, by order of Louis XIV; the private royal chapel, the Église du Dôme, was finished in 1708. Les Invalides is probably best known as the burial place of Napoleon Bonaparte. He died and was buried on St. Helena but his remains were brought to Paris in 1840.

The Arc de Triomphe is a monument in Paris that stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the Place de l'Étoile (the stones around it form the pattern of a star). It was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, when he was at the height of his success, and honors those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars.

A little more recent history ~ this sculpture, the Flame of Liberty, was built in 1987 and is an exact replica of the flame on the Statue of Liberty in New York. Although it is not a monument to Princess Diana, the flame has become a focal point and shrine to the Princess of Wales who died along with Dodi Al-Fayed when their Mercedes Benz crashed in the nearby Pont de l’Alma Road tunnel in August 1997.

The Moulin Rouge in the Montmartre area of Paris was built in 1889. It is the home of the original cabaret and is world famous thanks to its French Cancan. It was immortalized by the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (and by the movie starring Nicole Kidman). Apparently, this is one of the "must-do" activities when one is in Paris, but it's very expensive ~ tickets start at about €90 ($150-ish) and that's without dinner!

We didn't make it to England, but we flew over the White Cliffs of Dover on the way home from France. The Dover Cliffs are part of the English coastline facing the Dover Strait and France. Historically, they have been of strategic importance to England because of their ability to deter invaders. However, with the advent of new technology in the 20th century, they became susceptible to attack and were bombed during the Battle of Britain in World War II. The cliffs were immortalized by Vera Lynn in her 1942 song... sing it with me... "They'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover tomorrow, just you wait and see."

Enough history for today? I hope you've enjoyed your lesson. Your homework is to write a 5000-word essay on the development of European culture. Due date: tomorrow at 8:00 am sharp. Late assignments will not be accepted.
I'll be back a little later with some current events, namely Loser Monday.
Have a great day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

To Do, To Do

I'm making my TO-DO list for the weekend:

Walk a dog. I think it's Abby's turn, since Derby went last. But Derby is much better on the leash. Abby pulls and almost rips out my arm for the first ten minutes. She usually calms down after that, but those first few minutes are uncomfortable to say the least. Derby also needs more exercise, since he's kinda chubby after a long winter of snacking and napping.

School work ~ crank out another learning guide.

Go to the market with my friend, Anne. Maybe I'll find some good fresh veggies that I just can't live without. Maybe I'll find a little plant or two for my terrarium. In any case, it will be good to get out for the morning and visit with a friend. I spend far too much time by myself at home. Or at least it seems like I'm by myself, with Mr. P glued to the TV and the OnlyChild either glued to the computer or hiding in her dungeon bedroom.
Make my Spring skirt. I've cut it out and it's ready to sew. But wouldn't you know it, the first step is to put in the zipper. I hate putting in zippers. That's almost enough to make me not want to start. Sigh.

Go to the gym. I plan to go tonight; in fact, I'll go in about half an hour. Sunday is another good gym day. This is totally what I look like on the treadmill (minus the blonde hair and the lithe figure and the tan and... Oh who am I kidding, you've seen pictures of me).

Have some fun! It doesn't necessarily have to include wine, but... you know... it wouldn't hurt either.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In the fetal position

That was me yesterday. I woke up with a blinding migraine and felt sick to my stomach. But I got up, crawled to the shower, made tea and oatmeal, and then the cold sweats hit me and I said to myself, "This is ridiculous. You can't possibly go to work today." I called in a sub and stayed home.


For me it is, anyway. I usually play the martyr and go into work with the headache, blink hard when the kids are loud, and just scrape through the day. Every teacher knows that's just easier than calling someone to come in for you. But I'm so glad I stayed home yesterday. There's just no way I would have made it to the end of the day. I spent half the morning curled up on the couch with the dogs, and the other half dragging myself to the bathroom (no details needed there). During the afternoon, Abby and Derby had had enough of napping and wanted to play. No can do, doggies. They had to satisfy themselves with barking at the window at every living thing outside. Oh my poor noggin!
And the sad thing is, it was a gorgeous day outside. The temperature hit +23ºC (for my friends south of the 49th parallel, that's 73.4 ºF) but I didn't get the chance to enjoy it. That sun was just too bright for my fragile little head!
Today, folks, it might have hit 7 ºC (44.6 ºF) and, believe it or not, it snowed for a little bit tonight. Ugh! We're in for a couple more days of cold and then, fingers crossed, it will warm up.
So, to recap, this is what you're probably seeing out your window:

And this is what I'm seeing:

(just kidding ~ but a year ago this week, we did have a snow storm!)

Anyway, I'm feeling a bit better now, thanks for asking. I did go in to work and it was fine, but my poor stomach isn't quite back to its hearty self yet. My trip to the gym tonight was a waste because I really wasn't up to working out. The OnlyChild enjoyed it, though. She was all perky. Damn kid.

Hopefully, I'll have a more interesting post in the next couple of days ~ no weather or health updates. Maybe sewing...? More photos...?

Lalala... just waiting for my pictures to upload to this post, then I'm off to bed! G'night.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Let's go shopping... in Europe! (and, oh yeah, it's Loser Monday again)

Okay, let's get Loser Monday out of the way. I'm trying really hard to get back on track after my two-week croissant, pizza, pasta, cappuccino and chocolate eating spree. It's not my refrigerator that's bringing me down... oh no, the fridge is full of good stuff like fruit and veggies. It's the damn snacks Mr. P keeps bringing into the house ~ chips, fruit gummies, granola bars. Oh, those are the killers!

I've been trying to pack a good, healthy lunch so that any little sins I commit at home will be somewhat balanced. Hmmm... perhaps just a bit of self-control wouldn't hurt either. I have been exercising, though. In addition to my dance class, I've been going to the gym and I've walked the dog. Not too bad.

So, no numbers this week because I'd prefer not to know... or tell.

Now onto some good stuff. I hope you've got a few minutes because I have MORE pictures from my trip. A couple of people have told me that they're not sick of the photos yet, so I'm taking that as permission to show you more.


Betty Boop was popular in Europe; we saw lots of it, especially in Rome.

Pinocchio stuff was everywhere in Italy ~ here he is sitting on a bench in Tivoli (note the souvenir stand in the background).

Shopping in the rain in Florence. That market was INCREDIBLE! It had everything. I found a beautiful green leather jacket. Too bad it didn't fit me. Sigh. I actually didn't buy enough here. I can't wait to go back next summer to shop some more!
Can you read this sign? It says that it is an offence to buy fake goods. This was posted in Pisa. When we got off the bus we were surrounded by peddlars (mostly Somalian immigrants) trying to sell us fake Gucci bags, Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses, etc. They were relentless. We ran into the same thing in Paris. At times, we supervisors found ourselves having to protect the kids, who were pretty gullible.
Souvenir stands in Pisa. I found a gorgeous yellow leather purse at one of these stands. (It was made in Florence ~ I guess it's what I should have bought the day before.)

Now we're in Venice. Look at that Murano glass. It was stunning. Can you believe I didn't buy any? At times, all the "stuff" was overwhelming and there's so much I missed out on because I wasn't paying attention (or I just didn't know I needed it). Yep, I definitely have to go back next year.

A pasta stand on the Rialto Bridge in Venice. I did buy pasta ~ in the shape of Italian monuments.

More blown glass displayed in a shop window in Venice. Breathtaking!

Interesting store in Venice.

Venetian masks. I bought a couple of these, but they don't look like this. One of mine is red with a long beak, and the other is black and gold.

This picture was taken... can you guess?... in a gas station. I'm not kidding ~ the Autoroute travel stops have wonderful shops. I didn't buy any cheese or meat, but I bought a tin of Amaretto cookies. The tin made it home without a dent. That's careful packing!

Verona ~ Romeo and Juliet souvenir shop just outside the courtyard where Juliet's balcony and statue are located.

Shopping in Geneva. Yeah, I just bought chocolate ~ this is a little out of my league. It would really suck to live in Geneva if you weren't rich!
Flower market just opening in Geneva.

Montmartre district in Paris. Look how busy it was ~ wall to wall people down that narrow street.

Galleries Lafayette in Paris ~ HUGE department store. Quite pricey, too.

Boots are all the rage in Europe. Tall boots, low boots, high heels, low heels, toes, toeless, brown, black, red, grey. You name it. Boots everywhere, worn with everything.
And then there's the shoes that got away. In Rome, I found the perfect little black and white sandals in a shop by the Trevi Fountain... and they didn't have them in my size. boohoo. I couldn't get those shoes out of my head for the rest of the trip. Nothing measured up, so I came home shoeless. You know, I didn't even think to take a picture of them. They're just a dream now.

Barbie's 50th birthday is being celebrated everywhere. This display was in the Galleries Lafayette.
Okay, one more fashion tip for you ladies before I go: Think Purple. Purple is the hot colour in Europe this season. Everywhere we went in Italy and France we saw purple in the store windows.
That's it for now. I have just a few more photos I would like to show you of special or interesting moments and sights. I'll give you a couple of days off before I post them, though, so your brain and eyes can have a rest.