A Caucophony of Lifestyle

This weekend I’ve mostly been learning music for an upcoming show (in February 2012).  Please feel free to visit www.northtorontoplayers.com or join the facebook page.  Last year Justin and I played Nanki-Poo (Frankie-Lou) and Yum-yum in the Italian/American influenced version of The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan.  This year, we’ll be playing the parts of Ralph Rackstraw (the Captain Kirk-esque role) and Josephine (or Josie – the Captain’s daughter) in HMS Starship Pinafore, A Star Trek adaptation of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic, HMS Pinafore.  Tonight is the first read-through/sing-along of the whole show, so this weekend was spent listening and learning music like crazy.

One of the major interruptions to this music learning concentration that seems to be all too commonplace in our apartment building is that the fire alarm goes off frequently.  When the fire alarm isn’t going off, every other week there is a posting that they are testing the fire alarms (likely because there are so many false alarms).  The dilemma we now face is that we don’t know whether to stay in, or leave the apartment.

I used to avidly believe in leaving the apartment no matter what.  Then, this winter our cat Sweeney was very ill for a brief period of time and the ‘trigger’ was a fire alarm at 5am.   Since this, I’ve seriously been reconsidering whether it’s practical in light of the large, large, LARGE number of false alarms we have, to stay in the apartment and try to keep the pets calm, and try to quiet the noise. 

Of course, I had a chance to test this theory this weekend.  The fire alarm went off and Sweeney immediately panicked and ran and hid under our duvet in our bedroom.  Grover started pacing around the apartment whimpering slightly, and then stopping and whining at Justin or I (he knows by now that we usually leave during the fire alarm, so this is a mix of noise and excitement for him).  This was Fenton’s reaction:

Eventually, Fenton gave up and came and cuddled with me, and Grover settled down in his bed.  Then, he started howling along with the fire alarm.  I went over an put my hands over his ears, which seemed to help a bit.

Here’s the question – have I become so used to the Fire Alarm crying wolf that it’s more practical to stay IN my apartment rather than leaving?  What would you do?

Typically to celebrate Halloween, Justin and I enjoy eating candy and watching scary movies.  This year we had friends over, and also played Apples to Apples, so we had a great time!

To start out our night, we watched our traditional Halloween movie favourite – Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Both Justin and I watched this repeatedly growing up, and when we first moved in together, we bought Edward Gorey posters for our apartment.  I love this movie because the stylishness of it all has aged so well, and the music and atmosphere are spooky and fun at the same time.  Being a huge musical theatre buff, I also love the music aspect.

If you’ve never seen this movie before, I highly, highly recommend it.  Even to watch for the pure artistry of it all.

After we had settled down a bit, we decided to watch something none of us had seen before.  We began our search under the Horror section on Netflix, and decided on Paranormal activity.   Which also seemed appropriate because the 3rd movie in this series just came out in theatres as well. 

I’m going to write my opinion on this movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet, and don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now!!  I didn’t know anything about this movie leading into this, so I was firstly surprised that it was filmed in the first person hand camera style ( a la Blair Witch Project).  My favourite parts of horror movies are always the little things they add to create suspense and build tension.  This movie built this up very well, even admidst the cat meowing that kept interrupting the silence of our apartment.  They showed the relationship of the two main characters initially in a great place in their relationship, happy and communicating well.  Since a good chunk of the tension building happens while the couple is sleeping and the camera is stationary, in typical Greek theatre style some of the scarier parts happen off camera, or that you can’t see very clearly.  For me, the scariest was when the girlfriend was ‘sleep walking’ or possessed and standing next to the bed just watching her boyfriend.  Shudder-worthy.

I was a huge fan of this movie up until the very end when the demon finally possesses the girlfriend, and she murders her boyfriend.  As she crawls up to his body the fear totally hits it’s peak.  Then, in a not so scary denouement, the girlfriend looks to the camera and attacks the camera and grins slightly.  In my opinion if they had cut that part out the viewer would have been left with the total fear that had been built.  In trying to include the viewer when the ‘demon’ had ignored the camera for so long, it made me feel like they were trying to hard to be scary.

Regardless, I would definitely be up to watching the sequels to this movie!  If I’m brave enough while home by myself tonight, I’ll celebrate Halloween by watching more horror movies – the cats and Grover will protect me right?

Halloween

It sometimes seems like a debateable topic on whether or not to dress up your pets for Halloween.  Grover is not a big fan of costumes, however we have since found that his wearing a sweater actually kind of helps his skin – making the costume wearing an added bonus!

To those who do not appreciate the charm of pets in costume, please think of it like this:  The time and love spent in dressing a pet for Halloween means that this animal is cared and loved for, and while they may not enjoy actually wearing the costume, there is some serious bonding time and love dedicated to the silliness.

I have only tried getting Grover to wear an actual costume once – he only wore it for the photo op, and then he chewed a rawhide stick and felt very proud of himself.

Moose Grover

We have since realized that he’s much more comfortable in a regular sweater, so I had given up on costuming until I found this one day:

Batman Grover

Batman Grover has had 2 years now in his comfy sweatshirt/cape combo.  He takes his walks by storm and spreads joy among Gotham City with his bouncing, prancing walk.

I still joke every year that I’m going to dye Grover blue for Halloween to match the Sesame Street Grover, but I think the Batman will stick to his comfy costume for now.

Happy Halloween!

Breaded Chicken Wings

As a follow up to my ‘healthier’ wing recipe Beijing Wings, the other night I made my favourite breaded chicken recipe.  I love this recipe because it’s not a defined recipe, and every once in awhile, you feel like having something unhealthy but homemade for dinner.

The basics of this (which I never measure) is:

1) Combine in one bowl breadcrumbs, mixed with parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning (to your personal taste on the cheese and spice).  Needs to be a sufficient amount to coat your chicken wings.

2) Combine in another bowl melted butter and mustard (dijon or yellow, whatever you have available), again enough to coat your wings.

3) Dip the wings first in the butter/mustard and then coat in the bread crumb/parmesan cheese combo.

4) Lay on a baking sheet (I use those metal ones on top of a baking sheet so it doesn’t get stuck), and cook for 30 minutes at 400 degrees (I think that’s 200 celcius).  Flip the wings over at the 15 minute mark.

I like to make salad or steamed veggies to go along with these so I feel a little less guilty about the yummy buttery goodness I’ve just consumed.   Sometimes if I’m feeling a little healthier I like to skip the butter/mustard combo and coat chunks of chicken breast (instead of wings) in the breadcrumb/parmesan mix, which is also tasty.  For that variation, I make extra breadcrumb mixutre to add on top, and bake in a round cake tray for about 20 minutes without flipping instead. 

Preparation Stage

Before going into the oven

Ta-Da!

Concert in Pembroke

Ahh Friday – what a great day!  After having been sick this week, I’m very glad it’s the weekend.  Time for sleeping in and recuperating.

In the meantime – please check out this site:

http://davidandjustininconcert.com/theconcert.cfm

This is the official website for David and Justin in concert.  In a little less than 2 weeks they will be doing a show in Pembroke to start off their Ontario tour.    I’ve been listening to their possible song selections and am very excited.  Since this is during the week, I won’t be able to attend the Pembroke concert myself, but I will be looking forward to the Toronto version with bated breath.

I had a great time taking the photos for this site, and some of the hilarious outtakes look like engagement photos.  What a great combination of classical music, great guys and a great venue! 

Happy Weekend!

Beijing Wings

Awhile back my mom bought herself, my sister and I matching cook books so that we could try different recipes out and share the outcome.  I have also decided that I can share the outcome with the internet world at large.  Here is the link to the cook book – it has great healthy eating tips and I love reading through some of the recipes even just for inspiration on cooking and other recipes.

http://www.cookthisnotthatbook.com/uof/cookthisnotthatbook/

The first recipe out of this book I tried is called Beijing Wings.  I love wings, and am always up for a healthier interpretation of this fatty food.  Hopefully, the makers of this book would be satisfied with our meal choice.  The wings are first marinated overnight, which we didn’t have time for, and then are baked.  Despite having not marinated for any length of time, the recipe still worked.  After they have finished baking, the wings are fried with an additional sauce in a frying pan, then plated and topped with sesame seeds.  The combination of sugar and hot sauce, evened out with the sesame seeds was a great blend of flavours.

We paired our finished product with a salad of baby spinach, chopped peppers, feta cheese and an olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing mix.   With a beverage choice of water and Amstel light (Justin’s favourite kind of light beer), we felt like this was a healthy – and certainly tasty – choice for what is most often an unhealthy ordered in dinner.

Enjoy!

My Big Sister’s Married!!

This Thanksgiving long weekend I spent in Ottawa with all my family for a big occasion – my sister’s wedding!! Woo hoo!! Mel and Tyler have been together for 5 years, have a house, a dog, and they have been on trips down south as well as to China and Australia.  A wedding was yet another adventure and milestone, and was a great chance to have a big party and remember how much everyone around them loves them.

I organized the flowers with a company that is owned and run by one of my friends from high school – http://brittanyknapp.com/  She made beautiful flowers, and the sunflower bouquets were especially a big hit.  My Oma held onto mine for a good long time after the ceremony and they went home with guests as gifts very happily.

The day started out with a trip to the Spa in Ottawa (that’s really the name!), so us girls could get our hair done.  Then my sister’s good friend Melissa did our make up and I had to run back to my Mom’s house to get my dress, and get ready to go.  We had dropped my sister’s dress off at her (now) husband’s parents house, so we were ready to go when we got there.  Sitting around and waiting was the most nerve wracking part of the day – I thought I had way less time than I did to distribute flowers and help my sister get into her dress.  But all went smoothly and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.

I am so happy for my big sister.  I held it together until the very, very end of my speech.  It’s hard living in two different cities! I thought I would be able to communicate how much my sisterly relationship means to me without becoming tearful, but I guess it wasn’t going to happen the way I expected.  Luckily, I had my wonderful partner to rely on, and dance the night away with!  And there was such wonderful music, I couldn’t help but dance!  Justin also sang the “Golden Slumbers” until “And in the end” section of Abbey Road towards the end of the night.

I am so proud of my big sister too, for the person she is, and all the accomplishments she’s made so far in her life.  I’m very excited that I got to celebrate and share in (and legally witness!) this wonderful day with them, and in the spirit of this weekend, I’m Thank-full for the sister I have, the brother-in-law I’ve gained, as well as all of his wonderful family that is now a part of our family too.  What an exciting weekend!

And we couldn’t help having a bit of silly fun too…after a hilarious episode of “the Office” this season, and to highlight the amusement that the planking trend has brought to the internet world –

Update!  My sister just sent me some new edited photos by the brilliant Dawn Carruthers!

 

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