Tag Archives: What the Eff!

TTC versus SUV

Who would win? Who would you place your money on?

I’m certain the lady driving the SUV pictured here had no idea she’d ever have to ponder such a question. But I guess, the longer you live in Toronto and hear about all the wankery that takes place WHILE drivers are in control of their vehicles, nothing should really come as too much of a surprise.

For some reason the driver of our streetcar completely missed the fact that there was, in fact, a vehicle ahead of him when he came to the lights at the King & Portland intersection.

Seriously? How do you miss that? It was rush hour. It’s not like there weren’t SCADS of other vehicles around. And it’s not like she came out of nowhere (her vehicle was clearly arse -ended… no tell-tale swipes that would’ve happened had she appeared from nowhere and cut him off.)

Thankfully, nobody seemed to be hurt. To be quite honest, I was near the back of the streetcar reading when it happened. I just assumed that the sudden jerkiness was just keeping with the habit most King Streetcar drivers have of riding the brakes for the entire length of the route. Of course, the loud clank noise that punctuated the final jolt probably should have alerted me to the fact that something was amiss.

The sheepish “uhm – due to the collision, this car is now out of service” announcement clued me in pretty quickly, however.

Yep. Good times.

Although, since I had to walk up to hop on the Queen Streetcar, at least I didn’t get short-turned halfway to my destination. So I guess that’s something.

Miss SUV Driver? I hope you didn’t get into trouble for being late to work. And I hope the TTC has to buy you a nice shiny brand new vehicle. And a vacation. And some sexy new designer luggage for said vacation.

Just sayin’.

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Not cool, Mother Nature. Not cool.

Today is not my best day ever. I started it at roughly 3am when the convenience store sandwich wrap I treated myself to for dinner last night decided it was going to make a repeat performance. Yep. Awesome treat. Nothing like praying to the Great Porcelain God to get your day off to a rip-roarin’ start.

I know.

Lesson learned.

And, as if that wasn’t special enough, it seems the world around me has decided to spiral back a season.

Now, I know this is Canada. And winter is just one of those unfortunate circumstances with which we deal. It’s a small price to pay, really, when you think of all the wonderful benefits to living here.

But COME ON, EILEEN! We ushered in the beginning of Spring this Sunday past. Birdies were chirping, puppies were yapping, children were singing. Okay, perhaps  I’m speaking in a wee bit too much hyperbole.

But I ask you: does this look like the first week of Spring to you?

 

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You Can Check Out Anytime You Like

To my friends & family who witnessed my gleeful boasting during my week-long sojourn in the sun… here’s a wee bit of Schadenfreude in which you can happily bask.

No vacation would be perfect without, at least, one minor hiccup in the proceedings. And ours was no exception to that rule.

The day had been perfect. We’d just spent six-plus hours trekking around the Kennedy Space Center, witnessing some of mankind’s most exciting moments in history and we were looking forward to relaxing in what we had been led to believe would be a charmingly, lovely resort-type hotel on Cocoa Beach.

Missing PhotoSmash gallery: 3

We’d taken a chance and used Hotwire. We’d heard, first-hand, from others who’d done likewise and had great results. So, we figured we’d give it a whirl ourselves. We selected the amenities that were important. We chose the location we thought would be fun. And we made sure to select nothing below a 3-star option.

But something went wrong. So very wrong.

We’re not sure if it was the excitement of knowing that we were going to get to personally witness history the next day in the 39th & final launching of the Space Shuttle: Discovery. Or maybe it was simply the thought of sipping Mai Tais at a balmy beach bar that caused us to lose our usual attention to detail. Either way, we clearly missed the fact that Hotwire had insidiously decided to somewhat alter our search parameters. Because of the shortage of the room calibre we’d selected (due, likely, to the fact that about a kajillion others were also going to be in town that night for the shuttle launch the next day), the Hotwire search engine unilaterally decided to throw in a few 2-star choices to our results page. I know.

Welcome to The International Palms Resort Cocoa Beach. The name drums up some pretty swanky, luxurious mental pictures doesn’t it? Yeah. Not so much.

We stayed in, bar none, the ugliest, tiniest hotel room either of us had ever seen. In fairness, the last hotel we stayed at was on our honeymoon. And it was the Bellagio in Las Vegas. But, whatever. So not the point.

Despite our having been checked into a double room (I guess they figured we wanted separate beds), this place was so small that the bathroom sink… wasn’t even in the bathroom. The vanity & sink were, for some reason, located in the room proper. Lovely.

And the tiny wee (broken) coffee pot was also proudly situated on that very same vanity. Oh, but you couldn’t actually turn it on and brew that half pot of rank Maxwell House java. No, you see the only electrical outlet available in this room was in such a position that, in order to use said (broken) coffee pot you had to sit it on the floor & balance the broken basket on top of the carafe. Oh, how I wish I were kidding.

Oh! Did I mention that when we turned off the AC (that had been set to stun), the room affected a charmingly musty smell by morning? Yep. Pretty awesome.

Despite it’s charming Eau de Basement scent, the place was clean. I’ll give them that. And it did come with free reading material (courtesy the Gideons) in the bedside stand. Singular. There was one; two (wobbly & uncomfortable) beds – but only one bedside stand. Oy vey.

The International Palms Resort was just… sad. Oh, so sad. So very, very sad.  Oddly, though? Free Wi-Fi. I know.  I don’t get it, either.

We were determined, nevertheless, to salvage the rest of the night and make the most of it. And, just when we thought all was lost, a light shone out. A bright beacon from within a dark & dingy window glimmered out to greet us.  It wasn’t quite a choir of angels we heard, but it was enough to take our dreary night and turn it right around – all thanks to three magical little words…
 
#1. Cheap.
 
#2. Beer.
 
#3. Karaoke.
 

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One of these things is NOT like the other

When you hear the word Amish, would you more quickly associate the word ‘rural’ or ‘urban’? Exactly. We’ve all seen Witness. We (okay, I’ll admit it – I) have preconceived ideas about bonnets and wagons and barn raisings.

According to Wikipedia (yes, the most reliable source of information, to be sure): the Amish, sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology.

The Old Order Amish, who live in rural communities in North America and are famous for their plain dress and limited use of technology.

The New Order Amish (formed 1966), are the least restrictive Amish group. They permit the use of electricity in the home and do not practice shunning.

Urban means “related to cities.” Cities generally have advanced systems for sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing, and transportation.

Based on these generalizations, one would assume that even the most progressive of Amish orders would hardly be racing to start a business in downtown Toronto, right? I know, I know – I’m assuming a lot based  on common conceptions, so you’ll forgive my perplexed reaction to this:

They even have a website. And a YouTube Channel. And a Facebook page. When did the leap from “allowing electricity” to “maintaining a web presence” happen?

I’m just curious. Now you are, too.  Admit it.

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’tis the Season, Part 4: Les Yums!

For the longest time, I lived in apartments with limited kitchen space and a severe absence of dishwasher technology. So, when it came to holiday baking, I tended to shy away for the most part.

The thing is – I’m a bit of a superstar in the kitchen.  No, seriously. At the same time, I’m really quite lazy. So the prospect of having to hand wash all those extra dishes was unappealing enough to keep all my Martha Stewart-esque leanings at bay.

This year, however, things have changed. I have a kitchen that has enough counter space to let me and all my naturally clumsy tendencies manoeuvre about freely & unscathed. And, best of all, it has a dishwasher: a shiny, spankin’-new stainless steel, wonder-of-technology and slayer-of-dishpan-hands dishwasher. Truly, it is a thing of beauty.

Our first Christmas in our Rockstar House, however, we’d only just moved in (I’m talking: got the keys and hauled our stuff in 2 short weeks before Santa and his helpers set out on their big journey) so I did well to find knickers to wear, never mind muffin tins.

Last year, I was still convinced that every calorie was out to get me.  I’m pretty sure they are. But I’ve since learned to run long distances and they aren’t as good at catching me anymore.

Christmas 2010 is the year I’ve decided to regale my loved ones with my culinary prowess once again. But, instead of the super-rich, stick-to-your-thighs, shrink-your-pants recipes I’d mastered lo those many years ago, I decided to go another route.  This year, I trolled around the web and found some tasty treasures that I was able to adapt into healthier renditions or, at the very least, versions with fewer calories than found in their original form.

My big weakness, when it comes to delighting my palate, is peanut butter. Truth be told, I’m perfectly happy to eat it straight from the jar. I know. Pretty civilized, right? I didn’t say I was proud.

Cals: 108 | Fat: 5.8 g | Sodium: 62 mg | Carbs: 9.4 g | Fibre: 1.1 g | Protein: 3 g

My first adaptation came in the form of these über-tasty (if I do say so, myself) Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies. My husband doesn’t have a particularly pronounced sweet tooth, so I wanted to be sure that whatever I made with peanut butter would be something he’d help to eat (because – let’s face it – left to my own devices, I’d just end up inhaling the entire batch on my own.) Thankfully, he’s a sucker for cookies of both the oatmeal & peanut butter persuasions. So combining the two seemed like a win-win. As it happens, I was right. I’ve already made two batches of these bad boys.

Ingredients
1C margarine (2 sticks), softened
1 C natural peanut butter
1 C Brown Sugar Splenda
½ C Egg Beaters (or 2 large eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2½ C rolled oats
1½ C whole wheat flour

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • Combine softened margarine and peanut butter in a large bowl
  • Add Splenda & egg beaters and mix until smooth, fluffy and glossy
  • Stir in vanilla
  • Add salt, baking soda, oatmeal and flour
  • Stir well
  • Spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet & flatten with the back of a spoon or a fork
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes

Makes 45 medium/large cookies.
(warning: I’m pretty sure these are habit forming)

Cals: 66 | Fat: 1.4 g | Sodium: 3.7 mg | Carbs: 11.8 g | Fibre: 1.5 g | Protein: 1.8 g

Don’t think peanut butter or oatmeal are quite festive enough on their own?  How about Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies (made with pumpkin purée & whole wheat flour, instead of butter & the processed-beyond-the-telling-of-it white stuff) that are moist, chewy and full of seasonal spice!

Thanks to SparkRecipes (and if you don’t already know about this site, you need to go to there – immediately!) I didn’t have to make any alterations to this yum-tastic concoction and simply followed the recipe as found.

Ingredients
1 C canned pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pie filling)
½ C cup brown sugar Splenda
½ C Egg Beaters (or 2 large eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla
1½ C whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. salt
3 C rolled oats
1 C dried cranberries
½ C slivered or sliced almonds

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°C
  • Beat together pumpkin and sugar
  • Add eggs and vanilla, beat well
  • Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon salt ; mix
  • Stir in rolled oats, cranberries & almonds
  • Drop rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet
  • Bake 10-12 minutes

Makes 45 cookies.

Cals: 36.3 | Fat: 1.2 g | Sodium: 75.8 mg | Carbs: 5.7 g | Fibre: 0.2 g | Protein: 0.6 g

I realize that not everyone has the time, nor the inclination to go all Battle of the Food Network Stars simply because it’s the holidays. So for those of you who can’t be arsed with baking… but don’t want to bring a bag of oreos to your company pot luck: get ready to start falling in love with me. Weezie’s Easy Peasy Chocolate Bites are bound to change your life!

I found a recipe that needed a tiny bit of tweaking. But it still only involves 3 main ingredients . And you’ll look like a rock star when you show up with these in tow.

Here’s what you need!

Ingredients
1 package (250g) Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese
1 Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil’s Food)
1/4 C Margarine
to sprinkle on top:

1 tbsp. (approx.) cocoa powder
1 tbsp. (approx.) icing sugar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • Soften cream cheese & margarine in microwave & mix together in large bowl
  • Add cake mix & combine well
  • Roll into balls (approximately 1″)
  • Place on ungreased cookie sheet
  • Bake 12 minutes
  • Dust lightly with cocoa powder & icing sugar while still warm

Be sure to store these guys in the refrigerator (they do have cream cheese in them, after all!)

This recipe makes 72 to 75 chocolate bites – enough to share with the whole class!

And when you’ve got a plate of yummy, tasty Christmas cookies is there anything that washes ’em down better than egg nog?

Nope.

Assuming, of course, you don’t have any spiced rum on hand. If you do, then I’m afraid your plain ol’ eggnog has just been trumped. You’ve already saved yourself a whole buttload of calories with these recipes. Go ahead and treat yourslf: add a few back in with some bottled holiday spirits. I mean, with what’s already in the eggnog, what’s an extra 60 or 70 calories? Exactly. I’m sure as hell not judging.

Oh, and if anyone can tell me why the marketing geniuses in Canada never stopped to think, “hey, that’s pretty gross,” when they signed off on Lait de Poule (literally: chicken milk) for their packaging, I’d be curious to hear about it.

I have to wonder if francophones actually drink eggnog.  You have to admit, that has to be one of THE worst product translations ever. It’s almost enough to turn me completely off the ‘nog. Almost. But then I remember the spiced rum.

1 package (250g) Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese
1 Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil's Food)
1/4 C Margarine
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350

Soften cream cheese & margarine in microwave & mix together in large bowl
Combine cake mix
Roll into balls (approximately 1")
Place on ungreased cookie sheet
Bake 12 minutes
Dust lightly with cocoa powder & icing sugar while still warm

Store in refrigerator

Yield 72 to 75
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