Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I feel good James Brown style

I lost five lbs, and I went to the grocery store uesterday and lifted five lbs of potatoes. I can't believe that its off my body, thats incredible. More than anything, holding that weight, and seeing what it was gave me pause. Im actually enjoying working out, I look forward to it, and that is also a major difference in my way of thinking. One of my friends put it into words that actually blew my mind:
You have to change your mindset. You have to go from 'I dont feel like going to the gym.' to 'Ah finally, a chance to escape and go work out' Really let yourself fell and think like that, and everything will change for you.
Fantastic. I also decided to not go with a special diet, but just to make healthier choices one by one. For example, I cook mainly with chicken and reduced my red meat intake, switched from 2% to skim milk, and am eating alot more fresh fruit/vegetables. Those were the easy changes that I just had to adjust myself to. Harder is to adjust my choices when eating out. Im very proud to say that I havent eaten at any fast food restaurant for three weeks, instead choosing Subways (and healthy subs within Subways) when it has to be fast, and cooking at home as much as I can.

In other news, I joined the Biggest Loser Challenge at work, basically whoever loses the most weight by June wins the pot, which we all gave 10$ to. An added motivation, and its awesome that I can talk to cowrokers about this or that recipe, and this or that challenge to changing our lifestyles. Awesome!

Here is proof of my awesome door decorating skills, along with proof of my awful photography skills lol. Its a tree with the heandprints of all my kiddies as new leaves, if you cant tell.

I also got permission from my landlord (aka my mother haha) to shotgun a small strip of the tiny backyard to devote to planting. Im using eggcartons to start the germination process. Tomatoes, peppers, zuchinis, and maybe onions are on the planting list. Looking forward to a summer of dirty work with delicious end results!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Project Marmelade Update

So here I am, hours of soaking/boiling/straining/blending/canning later, with 15 jars of 250 ml of orange marmelade later sitting pretty in my fridge. I have this grand scheme of cutting fabric squares and attaching about 4-5 scones in a seperate bag to the cover, it would look pretty and delicious.

I call up the three old folks home in Chateauguay, turns out they cant take it to any of them due to the fact I have no family member living there. Weird, but maybe they didnt really understand what I was talking about. So now I call the hospital. For sure they will understand and there must be patients who dont get any visitors! I could spend some time with some and just hopefully liven their day up a bit.

Nope, not happening. I cant go drop off random food for people I dont have a connection to. What the heck. So now Im at a loss of what to do. Someone suggested Dans La Rue, and checking out other shelters, Ill see what I can do with those.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday's Three Small Successes

  1. I signed up for the gym, and Im actually about to go right after this
  2. I finished my awesome tree/handprint door
  3. I finished my rhyming dice
  4. Im really proud of myself for what I ate this week. Healthy body in a healthy mind, here I come!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Floral Question

This is our new addition to our household. Could anyone tell me what it is, what amount of sunlight it needs, how much water it needs, etc?

My dog

is honestly the sneakiest dog in the world. I left the bottom of a bowl of broth from my soup supper on the table, and she had been eyeballing it since I set it down. Since becoming progressively older and grumpier, her manners have been worsening and she does things she wouldnt have dared to try 5 years ago. So back to the story, I had to go to the bathroom, assuming that this carpet of a dog sleeping on the couch would not cause me grief.

How wrong was I? Im not a couple of minutes in, and what do I hear? The sound of my dog gleefully lapping up the remnants of my soup. Ick. Naturally I holler at her to stop, which she doesn't, of course. I finish my business, and head out, and where is she? Chomping away at her own food, looking up at me with an air of complete innocence, as if to say 'What are you yelling for, Ive been here this whole time?'.

Sneaky dog.

Who can say no to that face?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Out of the blue

Alright, so I'm out of the low (thanks Serena). Everyone has their days right? Right.
So on to other things, I went to Mass yesterday in a church that I hadn’t been in in a long time. My step-father‘s family have an annual commemorative Mass said for my step-father’s father, so my sister and myself always try to be present for them at this time. It was also the second week of Lent, and the altar and large cross were decorated in shades of purple and fuchsia.        At first when I went in, the aesthetic differences between the Greek Church and this one jumped out at me.
Compared, the Catholic Church seemed... bare. Very bare. Unattractive, almost. The walls had very large windows of frosted glass panes with a red cross in the middle, maybe four to a side. There was one chandelier on the top, simple two rows of pews, and a very few small statues on the upper sides, where one can light candles. Nothing extravagant and the only thing that would stand out would be the beautiful ceiling drop in the shape of an inverted V, with each panel showing a hand painted scene. The first one starting at Creation with Adam and Eve, and so on until the peak of the V was the Last Supper, and then ending with a painting of our current Pope blessing a youngster. That was stunning, but apart from that, it was quite bare.
Or so I thought. Once I sat down and actually looked, instead of just comparing, I realized that the beauty of the church came from its simplicity. No lights were needed, because of the brightness that came through the windows. Another cleverly placed stained glass window was hidden behind the altar so that the setting sun would shine directly through it and give the back wall a warm yellow glow. The more I looked, and the more I liked this church. Its beauty really was in its simplicity. It was open, and fresh, and simple. It was simply stunning. The priest was also very jovial, and dynamic. You could tell he loved what he did, and it came through in his sermon. He was also the first black priest I had ever seen in a Catholic Church.
So has it become a contender for my wedding ceremony? Heck yes it has! I’ve also been told by a cousin of mine that when she married, she did the ceremony in a Catholic church, and wanted to merge some aspect of the Greek customs within the Catholic ceremony. She decided to include the Stefanos (wedding crowns) within her ceremony. Hmmm...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ups and Down

Im warning you, this blog is going to sound weird, and probably bipolar to boot.

But my mood has been really down lately. Lately being as of Monday night to be precise. Here is why: This wedding is stressing me out, and I’ve still got over a year to go. It hasn’t got anything to do with Jeff, or with being stressed by how I will look, how it will look, or anything like that. I am terrified of mixing my mother’s side and Jeff’s family. Just thinking about it is giving me the shivers.
I don’t know how I will make everyone happy, how people will get along, how anything will happen. I knew when I started going out with Jeff that this was going to be difficult, which is why we kept it secret for the first month of our relationship. Jeff and I were basically raised in the old mentality, French vs. Mohawk, Mohawk vs. French. I was never allowed to go into Kahnawake and Jeff was strongly discouraged to have French friends. We were both brought up with our parents and families having strong negative opinions about the opposing side, and it’s a mystery how Jeff and I actually got together in the first place. All that to say our families have very little chance to actually coming together in joy. They met once, when we moved out to our first apartment. Tension was already in the air because of a fight that we had had with Jeff’s mother kicking us out when I was very sick. Feathers were ruffled, and intense dislike was in the air. My mother actually almost fought with Jeff’s grandmother, and I believe that the only reason why they didn’t is because I came into the room. The move took all of two hours. How am I supposed to believe that everyone will be able to put aside years of violent history and hatred to come together in some beautiful fairy-tale wedding story? How am I supposed to make sure no one will fight and ruin what’s supposed to be a day filled with joy and peace and love? Both sides are looking at us like were crazy trying to plan something which can only be disastrous; and some are more reluctant than others. Jeff’s mother actually suggested she would pay for the whole wedding if we just eloped somewhere alone. And I'm supposed to believe that I will be able to bring them together for a whole day? Don’t even get me started on how I'm stressing over what will happen when Jeff and I will have children...
All that to give some history as to why I've been devoting time to try to find some sort of thing for the wedding that would possibly bring some cohesiveness to the three families. And I had thought I had found a low budget, super idea which I read off of some internet website or other. Basically, everyone likes to bake, and everyone has some dessert they are ‘the best’ at. So I thought why not make a dessert bar, where Jeff’s grandmother could make her date squares, or my mother could make poudding chomeur, or my cousin make baklava? With cute little insignia which would say who had made what, it would be sure to create conversation, with people comparing or asking for recipes. Hope makes you stupid. It made me stupid enough to actually believe in this enough to tell my mother, who immediately shot down my idea. ‘Why the hell would I ask anyone else how to bake something I know very well how to make? If you think I'm going to go to your wedding and make desserts you’re out of your mind’.  Ouch.
So since then, I've been stumped. I'm feeling low. I'm starting to consider Jeff’s mother’s proposition even though it is the furthest thing from what I want. I don’t know how this is going to work out. People tell me, who cares about others you shouldn’t care about what anyone else thinks, but I can’t do that. This is my family. That is his family. I feel like I'm living in a soap opera. Next episode on the Cynthia’s Life Show, how Cynthia is dealing with her issues about walking up the aisle without her biological father. Ugh.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday`s Three Small Successes (and more)

  1. I continue to work on a project that is due in a little less than two weeks. That, if anyone knows my work habits, is extraordinary.
  2. I took on the classroom door decoration duty. I had the kiddies choose whatever color they wanted for their hand, painted it, stamped it, and then laminated their (dried) handprints. I will then make a tree out of brown paper that they will also have painted, and attached the handprints to the branches, thus creating the effect of leaves. Or at least I hope so. I will also make a cheesy saying, like `Spring into Kindergarten`or something equally corny. I`ve been letting down work and focusing on school lately, so hopefully that will boost my value as an assistant.
  3. I ate breakfast this morning, and was full-er all day. I guess they weren`t lying when they said that breakfast was the most important meal of the day.
  4. I got up off my lazy bum and went to go 'shop' for an affordable gym membership yesterday night. Turns out, that doesnt exist. Not in my present budget anyways. But it gave me a feeling of having done something instead of just thinking about it.
  5. I ALSO washed the floor yesterday. That in itself isnt all that extraordinary, but yesterday wasnt the day for washing floors (Sunday and Friday is), and I did it just because I felt like it. It was awesome.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Life is full of coincidences..

For the past four years I have been thinking about starting a collection of memories that I still have about my father. I have hesitated and haven't started because.. well I don't really know why I haven't done it. I had a grand old idea of writing down what little I could remember, then asking everyone who would to write theirs down also. Maybe as a gift to my Yiayi, maybe as a memento to be shared between his three daughters, or maybe something for my children to read when they ask me what their grandfather was like. I don’t know what I would have done with it, had it come to completion. But for whatever the reason, it never got done.

I had pretty much forgotten that idea (consciously or unconsciously) and had many other things that deserved my attention. But life will have its ways, and will mess up your well laid-out plans. I arrived about half hour early to one of my classes last Tuesday night, and I sat down with my book, since I was alone, and the teacher was in the next room correcting some papers. I didn’t get two sentences read when she came in the room and started to talk, continuing a sort of debate that we had never gotten to finish. A few more students came wandering in, and they also joined the conversation. Then, seemingly out of the blue, she turns to me and says ‘I finally figured out where I remembered you from!’ To put everyone into context, I came into St-Willibrord in the middle of grade 3, and she was a Kindergarten teacher, so we had both assumed she recognized me from seeing me in the halls. Or so I thought.

She then continued on with saying:

‘I met your father in the Alibi once, when my husband and I went in to play pool. He was with a friend, and seeing as how we four were the only people in the bar apart from the bartenders, he immediately hailed us over and asked us to play pool with them. I didn’t know him, we were complete strangers, but he acted like we were friends who he hadn’t seen in awhile. Before long he was buying everyone shots and we had so much fun! That was a month to the date before he passed away. I thought you would want to know.’

Incredible, isn’t it, how even now, even 12 years after he passed, I still meet people who knew my father, and tell me about him. The most unlikely person, that I would never have connected with my dad turns out to be my teacher in a course that I didn’t even want to take in the first place, randomly tells me this memory she had of him. They met once for a few hours only, yet he marked her and her husband enough that 12 years later, she would meet his youngest daughter and tell her of this one night when a random man played a friendly game of pool with complete strangers.

How extraordinary is that? What an extraordinary man my father must have been. Maybe this is God’s way of kicking me in the butt for not doing what I was thinking of doing 5 years ago...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just floating around

Here are some pictures that have been floating through my mind lately.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Ash Wednesday being today, I was very disappointed to see that NO CHURCHES were open in Chateauguay. I know that I had written about this before, but I figured that since today is pretty important, there would be at least one place opened during the late afternoon where I could light a candle without the need for public transportation.

I've been perusing websites for ideas on how to further my experience of Lent, and from them with previous experiences and understandings, Lent can be observed through three main things: praying, fasting, and giving. This online magazine has been especially helpful for good ideas on how to observe Lent in original ways, focusing on involving children as well. Here is what I am going to do:

Praying: I am going to really push myself to pray at night. Saying the 'Our Father' will root me, and it calms me like nothing else. I have never been to confession in my life, and I will try to go at least once. I noticed OLPH has confession from 4:00 to 4:30, so I could just head over after school. How wonderful would it be to have confession, and finally be able to recive communion in a Sunday morning mass?

Fasting: I will be fasting from facebook 4 days out 7, will have one screen-free day a week (no TV/computer/etc), and will only be reading books that are religious in nature (I will be re-reading this, but also keeping in mind that I need to read my textbook for exams. Im sure God doesnt want me to observe Lent by failing.) I will of course be observing meatless Fridays, and also be drinking only water 5 out of the 7 days of the week.

Giving: I will be making mass marmelade and dropping jars off at the nursing home and Anna - Laberge Hospital and make sure to give blood once. I have other ideas but am not sure if I will be able to do them, because of time/schedule constraints.

I will also be reading Psalms, as it seems to be reccommended by many sites! Any other reccomendations would be welcome (Amy, Im looking at you!)

'It is not repentance that saves me; repentance is the sign that I realise what God has done in Christ Jesus.'  

-  Oswald Chambers

Wedding Thoughts

Although I am against this idea of weddings being made into big shows, I am still excited for my own (although still over a year away) and will no doubt devote a few blogs to this subject.

That being said, Jeff and I went wedding ring (bands?) shopping today and learnt that:

A) rings are expensive and thank God we are simple people with simple tastes. Myself, I just don't like to not know where the precious stones came from, so the whole issue of blood diamonds makes a pretty strong case against them for me. Plus, I don't really enjoy jewelery, and very rarely wear any. So to have this big gawky ring full of expensive stones would just contrast horribly with everything I stand for in simplicity, and would give thieves ideas in any case. Jeff likewise has a sense of minimalist simplicity in his way of dressing himself, so the bling bling would just not fit.

and B) jewellers are so very pushy. And that makes for an immediately awkward and unpleasant experience. No matter what the amazing deal to be had, according to the jeweller, I will probably not buy if you try to push me into making a decision. Almost guaranteed our reaction will be to immediately attempt to leave the store. Also, your hygiene plays a pretty big role too (I highly reccommend people to not go to Bijouterie Venise in Angrignon).

Also there are some funny things people engrave on the inside of their bands. Such as BETTER THAN BACON. Classic.

Here's another thing. Sexy. Now sexy is a word that has been associated to wedding gowns all over the web and inside stores. And I have to admit that I am confused by this. I understand wanting to look beautiful, elegant, lovely, etc. But why sexy? To me, sexy is a look that I want to keep for my husband alone, not something I want to take family pictures with my grandmother. For example:


Ok so the one on the right is extreme. But its a true story. One only has to put in 'sexy wedding dress' on images in Google to see the kinds of dresses some people like to buy. Super short, super tight, super low cut, see-through, why in the world do you want anyone but your husband in the most private of times to see you dressed in that?? I will never understand...

Monday, March 7, 2011

What's in a place?

Through many discussions, Jeff and I have settled on a date (finally) Because of many reasons, we couldn’t do it earlier than 2012, so we decided on September 22, 2012. Actually having a date makes it much more real, even though it’s still upwards of a year away.
This of course, leads to a renewed budget talk, renewed vendor search and especially, a renewed talk about the type of ceremony we wish to have. Jeff and I have different ideas of where to have our ceremony. I would love to have it in the church that I attended when I was a child, where my father was married, where I was baptized, etc. This church is the closest thing I have to a sort of community church, where the priest knows me and has known me since I was little.
One other church could have contended with the Greek Church, and that was Notre Dame de L’Assomption, which was a French Catholic church. My mother took me to this church, I was part of the choir and vivdly remember Christmas mass, sitting in the pews, and gazing at this beautiful statue of the Virgin (which I wrote about in one of my previous blogs). Unfortunately, this church was sold and bought by a circus company and is now the place is used as an exercise room for acrobats, stained glass windows and religious statues and all. And what became of the statue of the Virgin which I so fondly remember? I saw her broken pieces in the garbage bin when I went to go witness the day the circus company moved in.
But back to the original story, the Greek Orthodox church is where I would like to have the ceremony where Jeff and I will become husband and wife. But I am torn (still) in this decision for many reasons. One, is that apart from myself and my father’s parents and my father’s brother, no one will have any ties to this church and even more importantly, no one will have any idea of what will be going on. Not only will most of the ceremony be conducted in Greek (which I myself do not speak), but it is also quite different from a Catholic ceremony. It is much longer and more ritualized, and there are aspects (such as the Stefana) which are completely alien to maybe 50 out of the 60 people there.
Another reason is that Jeff is toying with the idea of wearing his ribbon shirt to honour both his grandparents and his Mohawk heritage. I don’t know how the priest will react to this, or how it will look. Will it look like it is meant, a joining of two cultures, or will it just look odd...
And maybe more than anything prior, Jeff really wants an outdoor ceremony. Although we have talked about this, and knowing how much the ceremony is important to me (I get angry when I talk to people about this and their response is - Who cares? The party is what’s important!), he told me he will go along with what I choose. But part of a marriage is the idea that one does not get her own way anymore, marriage is about compromising. How can I push aside his idea of an outside ceremony for something that is important only for myself?
Who knew this could be so difficult!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Of citrus and blueberries

Ahh, my first day off from work and it feels GREAT! I had a to-do list that I made last night of things I wanted to accomplish, but of course Life got in the way, and it didn’t happen the way I had wanted to. But no matter, I still got some things done (my bathroom is sparkling clean). Amongst that, I completed my marmalade and am quite happy with the results!
This is the first time that I make marmalade (not being a huge fan of it myself) but I had some leftover oranges in the fridge that weren’t going anywhere fast, and this blog gave me the idea to do so. Along with the recipe and technique that the blog explains, I researched it and pulled together facts that coincided between recipes and what my own judgement and cooking reasoning told me would work. I learnt that marmalade (just like jam) can be made with a variety of different cooking apparatus (think microwave, oven, stovetop, slowcooker, bread machine, etc). Although there are varied opinions, I'm a believer in using mainly old-school methods, so I stuck to stove-top, but might try it out again in the slow cooker next time.
Also, most recipes call for between 3-5 cups of sugar, which I think is enormous and redundant, as I want the natural sweetness in oranges to come through for me rather than mask any taste by rendering it sickly sweet. Blegh.
But this citrus marmalade is anything but blegh. Although it’s still got some quirks I want to iron out, it’s a fine beginning and produces a great spread that can be used on toast or an English muffin, or maybe with meats such as chicken. It’s a three day simple process that is worth waiting out the days to take out the bitterness in the peels of the citrus.
·         6 large ripe oranges
·         1 lemon
·         1 cup of white sugar
·         Enough unsweetened orange juice to cover the fruit, I used about 3 cups
·         3 tsp of freshly grated ginger
1.       Wash the fruits thoroughly. Cut a thin slice of the bottom off of each fruit. Peel 3 out of 6 oranges. Cut the peeled oranges into quarters, then into pieces roughly equal in size and discard the pith between the segments (that’s the white stuff on the inside of the peel and the middle of the orange). Discard all seeds. Cut the peel into very thin slices, as thin as you can slice, then cut lengthwise to make little squares. Add this to a pot for the stovetop.
2.       Take your other three oranges (with the peel still on them) and cut them into quarters, discard all seeds, then slice them very thinly. Add these to the other oranges in the pot.
3.       Grate the lemon until the peel is mostly off, then cut it into chunks, then add to the pot.
4.       Add the water to the pot until the fruit is covered, cover and set aside.
5.       24 hrs later, boil the fruit, occasionally stirring, for about 30 mns. The rinds should be tender. Cool, then cover and set aside.
6.         24 hrs later, add the sugar, and grate and add the ginger. Mix, then boil the fruit again until the mixture gels, about 30 mns.

Citrus Marmalade and Blueberry Jam

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Three Small Successes

1. I survived this last month and a half. Jeff still lives unharmed, I didnt have a nervous breakdown, and I didn't unintentionally go off my rocket at an innocent 5 year old. Life is good.

2. My marmelade is boiling away on my stove. Through all that craziness, I started a new cooking project - a citrus marmelade which takes three days to complete. I am very much looking forward to the end result (which I of course will blog about).

3. I am not feeling stressed about the upcoming (Tuesday) midterm. I have fallen into this state in which I feel like whatever happens happens. Not that I will purposely set myself up to fail, but I wont lose any sleep over this anymore. Amen to that.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Poem Time

Please, Dad

As soft winds sweep away the days
I look back on life through a haze.
Remember playgrounds, parks and friends,
In childlike gaze that never ends.
The laughter in a game of catch,
Shall memory ever attach...
To innocence in youthful eyes,
Catching the ball to Dad's surprise.

I recall my first bike, first wreck,
Who picked me up, said, "What the heck?"
Convinced me to give one more try,
While, knees skinned, I forgot to cry.
Just the joy knowing he was there,
Making him proud my only care.
There was nothing I couldn't do,
My heart held fast that to be true.

Though teenage years were kind of rough,
I sure wasn't too big or tough.
You taught me to defend what's right
And never back down from a fight.
So I learned the hard way to stand,
Still, with each lump, I found your hand.
Drawing from you an inner strength,
And stubborn pride of equal length.

But there the line of fate was drawn,
As though I blinked and you were gone.
I found myself facing the sun,
Not man, not boy, fatherless, one.
Eyes blinded by a void inside,
I could not live that you had died.
Alas finding it to be true,
I could do nothing without you.

Please, Dad, today just hear my call,
I'm sorry that I dropped the ball.
My life is wrecked, my knees are skinned,
My emotions undisciplined.
I can't get up although I try,
Please don't be upset if I cry.
Though I can't fight what I can't see,
Please, Dad, say you're still proud of me.

To hear him say 'I'm proud of you' would mean the world to me.