Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Inescapable (Truth)

Well, friends, you win some and you lose some, right?

Tonight's date night was set up to be a fun-filled evening of entertainment (yay, $5 Tuesdays at our local cinema!) and fine Japanese cuisine at a sushi place I've been wanting to try. (We actually noticed a few locations of that particular chain last time we were in MontrĂ©al. I was excited to see that they'd made their way to Toronto as they seemed to be quite popular, if the frequency with which we spotted their logo in MontrĂ©al is any indication!)

Our evening wasn't exactly a comedy of errors, just a whole bunch of little things adding up to a kind of so-so night. Shall I wallow elaborate? Well, if you insist...

Exhibit A:
At the last minute I suggested watching a different movie, because the one we were going to see stars Bradley Cooper (not my fave actor), and I was afraid it would be lame. I knew we'd be taking a chance on seeing an "independent" film, but I've had a lot of good experiences with indie movies at this particular theatre, and the trailer looked pretty good. Trailers, however (as we all know), can be deceptive. (Cue sad trombone sound).

Exhibit B:
What was it about this movie?! The plot was solid if not super inventive. I mean, any story involving kidnapping, espionage, secrets from the past, corrupt governments, and the bond between a father and his daughter should have some riveting material, no? The actors, in my opinion, were expertly cast. Yet somehow, I didn't feel myself drawn to the characters or pulled into the story.

For one thing, there was basically no build-up to the "problem" the main character needed to "solve" - literally the second or third sentence of the movie was, "Your daughter's gone missing in Damascus!" Um, okay. Way to ease us in to the main character's life there! (And the guy who delivered that line, though supposedly close enough to the daughter to know her secret travel plans, never appears in the movie again. What the what?!) Other scenes (including the ending, which was pretty much as abrupt as the beginning) were similarly choppy; it's like the filmmakers were so focused on advancing the plot that they forgot to develop the story.

There was a fair amount of violence, too - not the shoot 'em up variety with a (Hollywood-style) typically high body count, but the more measured (and therefore intense) kind. Yet somehow, it didn't feel intense or compelling. (Not that I'm advocating for violence in movies, or trying to imply that it's necessary to make a story intense or compelling!) I don't know - the whole thing was just weird. I had that feeling of anticipation where you're waiting for something to take off, to get good, to leave you feeling satisfied. I kept waiting for everything to be pulled together. Aaand.... yes, I'm still waiting. (Wah wah wah wahhhh). Oh well, at least I enjoyed the soundtrack!

Exhibit C:
After a somewhat disappointing movie experience, you'd think we would have been looking forward to dinner even more eagerly. Except - I couldn't find the menu/brochure we received for the aforementioned sushi restaurant, which had some enticing coupons attached. Did I want to try out this new place (which just so happens to be strategically located across the street from the theatre)? Yes, please. Did I want to try it without said coupons? Not so much. So we settled for mediocre (but inexpensive) sushi from another place that was close by. Sort of a win? (At least for our wallets, I supposed.)

However, the evening did have a silver lining! Before dinner we stopped by Loblaws and picked up some potted organic herbs (basil, curly parsley, and thyme). Alas, they had no sage or rosemary. But that won't stop me from posting this:

Hope you all had a more terrific Tuesday than I did. But there's always the hope for a wonderful Wednesday, right? Right. :)


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy "giving thanks" day!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."

1 Chronicles 16: 34

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May our hearts overflow with gratitude for all we have been given.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pure Pumpkin Awesomeness

Just when I thought nothing could intensify my recent pumpkin-cravings, THIS HAPPENED.

Well, I guess we all know what I'm doing on Monday.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fun Friday :)

A few fun things today, complete with Youtube videos. Enjoy! xx

1. The new theme song for the upcoming James Bond flick has been released. Adele was clearly the best choice to sing this rather epic number - what a lovely voice. Every time I hear one of her songs I'm drawn in by the depth and soulfulness of of her voice. ♥ Gorgeous! I also really love the graphic design for the "music video" - the font choice and timing of the lyrics on screen was just perfect and didn't distract at all from the impact of the instrumentation or vocals. Well done, designer(s), well done.


2. After reading this post, I'm inspired to line up some documentaries to watch with Wilson on some of our upcoming date nights. (We set aside one night per week that's just for the two of us to spend time together - easy enough before having kids, we'll see how long that continues once we have a little munchkin or two running around!) These three look intriguing to me... any other recommendations?

BABIES (Been wanting to see this one since I first heard of it a year or two ago. Babies!! ♥)


FIRST POSITION (Yikes - that "foot stretcher" looks like a medieval torture device!)

THE BLUE PLANET (Okay, technically this is a mini-series and not a documentary, but it still looks fascinating to me. I'm also interested in the highly acclaimed film Earth, which I believe was produced by the same team. This clip is from one of The Blue Planet episodes. The music drives up the intensity so much - love it!)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hello, Harvest!

Ever wondered why three of our seasons (summer, winter, and spring) have but a single name, while the most glorious of all seasons (ahem, no bias here!) can be called either autumn or fall? Just the other day I made an off-hand comment to Wilson about how it's called "fall" because that's what the leaves do, but I wasn't sure where the term "autumn" came from.

Said question was still rattling around in my brain earlier this week when I stumbled upon this article, which explains the whole linguistic conundrum beautifully. Apparently before either "fall" or "autumn" appeared in mainstream English usage, the period between summer and winter was generally referred to as "harvest." I must admit, that term has a nice homey, traditional ring to it that I quite like.

I'm sure most of us city-folk have little cause to call this season "harvest" anymore, but don't you think it's a nice reminder that despite having 24/7 access to pretty much every kind of food imaginable, there is still a pattern to growing things and the harvesting of crops that no cutting-edge technology or international trade can ever fully replace? In any case, call it what you will, I do so love this time of year... pumpkin-cravings and all! :)


P.S. Linguistic article found via Tim Challies' website. That man finds the coolest stuff on the web!
P.P.S. My favourite part of the article is the very last paragraph - love the whole Britain vs. America dynamics, tee hee!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Friends, allow me to share my new obsession favourite pastime with you:

I am officially in love with this series! Poor Wilson will attest that I have no interest in watching anything else these days, and have basically absconded with the entire set between the library and my parents' private collection. Pretty much every night that we don't have other plans, I curl up on the couch, bat my eyelashes and sweetly suggest, "Honey, want to watch an episode of Lewis?"

There are a plethora of reasons I am smitten with this show. First of all, the Masterpiece Mystery! production itself is a throwback to happy childhood memories of movie nights with my parents, when we would gather 'round the screen and watch the ever so elegant Diana Rigg introduce that night's feature presentation (usually a Hercule Poirot mystery with David Suchet masterfully portraying Christie's brilliant detective). I still remember quite clearly the Masterpiece opening title sequence which I completely adored: a Gorey-esque animation in sombre hues with the occasional splash of colour and a "fainting woman" who had swooned on the edge of a crumbling parapet. Oh, BBC, even your opening credits are noteworthy.

Which brings me to point #2: the BBC seem to have rather a unique talent for consistently producing high calibre TV series. (In our family, other favourites include Foyle's War and Midsomer Murders). Maybe it's merely my British roots showing through, but I often find the quality of their programming to be head and shoulders above what we're producing in North America. I just can't resist British comedies, British mysteries, and even the occasional British romance/drama. Now if only the dialogue of these shows wasn't drowned out by the noise of gravel crunching underfoot, or what have you! But aside from that strangely British idosyncrasy, the production quality of this particular series is superb. Wonderful camera angles, story-telling, dialogue, and a talented cast that bring to life characters you can’t help but fall in love with.
Thirdly, Lewis (or Inspector Lewis, as we say on this side of the pond) is set in Oxford, which is pretty much the most ideal place to shoot a TV series, ever. I mean, it's Oxford! Steeped in tradition, birthplace of brilliant thinkers and some of the most beloved authors of all time, full of quaint shops, old churches, stunning spires, and home to two on-screen detectives who get to flip open their badges and say "Oxfordshire police" in charming British accents.

Excuse me while I swoon.

Lewis features tight plots that still twist deliciously and keep you guessing ‘til the end, a sublime cast, sumptuous visuals of Oxford and surrounding countryside, and a palpable chemistry between Detective Inspector Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) that makes the whole series sing. Throw in enough Shakespeare quotations to satisfy even the fussiest English teacher, plus a dash of Latin and Ancient Greek (it is Oxford, after all!) and what more could a girl ask for?

Aside from providing a delightful distraction from the drudgery of daily duties, Lewis has sparked in me a passion for a trip to Oxford. Just to wander around Oxford’s many colleges, have a picnic in the Botanic Garden, stop in at the local pub for a pint glass of orange juice... Sigh. Well, maybe one day... A girl can dream, can’t she?

In the meantime, I’m getting my fill of Oxford via any season of Lewis I can get my hands on, and picking up British slang while I’m at it (to wit: “dishy,” “get it sorted,” and my personal favourite, “rumpy-pumpy”). I might secretly be cherishing the aspiration to introduce some of these phrases into mainstream Canadian conversation, but you won’t get me to admit that at one point I started reading a passage of Jane Eyre aloud in a British accent. What?! You can’t prove a thing!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Recipe Round-Up: Fall Flavours

As the temperature has slowly been falling (on some days, positively diving - with no complaints here!) from the twenties to the teens, my body has fully kicked into fall mode. I'm craving thick, savoury stews and soups, large slow-cooked hunks of meaty goodness, and roasted squash and root veggies. Not to mention warm spices (cinnamon! nutmeg! allspice! cloves!), preferably in yummy baked treats or steamy mugs of coffee and tea. I have therefore assembled some very autumnal recipes to whet your appetite for some festive flavours. After all, Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
Pumpkin Bread in a Bowl - I think this hearty breakfast idea could be enjoyed all year round, but lately I have been craving everything and anything pumpkin-y! Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, Pumpkin Spice Chai tea from David's Tea, and the Pumpkin Gratin recipe that I just noticed on our kitchen wall calendar. And this:
I actually woke up this morning dreaming about making
this dish (no joke)!
Chorizo-Stuffed Acorn Squash - Normally any recipe with the suffix "-stuffed" in the title does not entice me to seriously consider making it for dinner. Too fussy, especially for a weeknight. And I am most emphatically not a fan of dishes that require a lot of hollowing out of ingredients with care and precision! But this puppy might just change my mind.
Real Simple always styles their food so beautifully,
don't they? Although, is it just me or does that lettuce
look a touch on the "brown around the edges" side?
Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar Lids - Ok, I know I've posted this recipe before, but honestly, can you blame me? I have also made this recipe before and can thus personally attest to the fact that it merits another honourable mention. Or two. Or 15. Seriously, are you still reading this? Hie thee to the nearest farmers' market or grocery store and fulfill the destiny of any sad, end-of-season roma tomatoes you can find!
I think it's official: Deb is a genius. The woman combined
roasted tomato soup and grilled cheese in a single dish, people.

 P.S. Deb, the genius-woman behind the best food blog of all time is coming to my beloved city as part of her book tour next month! How thrilled am I?!?! (And secretly hoping I can find someone to come with me to her book signing, but as much as I hate large gatherings where I don't know anybody, such is my love for Smitten Kitchen that I have actually made plans to go alone if I can't convince any of my friends to come along.) It will be epic, I tell you! SOOOOOO excited!!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy October!

After an exhausting end to September (a persistent UTI that wouldn't go away until the second round of antibiotics, followed by a family health crisis which is thankfully in hand now), October is finally here! I am looking forward to cooler temps (although really, since last week when fall officially commenced, the weather has been simply gorgeous for the most part) with crisp autumn breezes, baking lots of yummy spiced goodies, indulging in the occasional Pumpkin Spice Latte, wearing sweaters and thicker socks, and having a more structured weekly schedule (shifts at work + a little tutoring on the side). Plus, our exciting Thanksgiving plans include spending the holiday Monday cleaning out some piles of stuff that have just been sitting around (shoved into closets or, more embarrassingly, in a heap on our bedroom floor) for faaaar too long. You have no idea how much I am looking forward to that day. It'll be like my birthday's come early!! :)

Today was a much needed day off for me, but after a luxurious 11-hour sleep I actually had enough energy to be fairly productive, to wit: I took care of some financial housekeeping and some real housekeeping and even baked two loaves of bread ("honey whole wheat" and a new recipe for banana bread, yum!) after dinner. Maybe it's nothing more than the change in the weather, but, for whatever reason, it seems like I suddenly have my cooking mojo back, and I'm loving it! So much, in fact, that I can hardly wait to share a fall recipe round-up with you guys. But that's for tomorrow...
Happy October, everyone!