sugar reduced pumpkin pie, autumn hike and more zombies

this past thanksgiving weekend was way busier than planned. with doug and i celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and a last-minute thanksgiving party with friends, we also had cousins from vancouver visiting (lunch on wednesday after my physical and a peking duck dinner friday night) as well as our traditional thanksgiving feast at my parents’ place on sunday.

doug and i (and chaeli) made the whole wheat bread stuffing, curried butternut squash soup (just a cup for everyone as an appetizer) and my traditional pumpkin pie. the difference this year was that i cut the sugar down to 1/2 of what the recipe called for and used an extra teaspoon of cinnamon. it finally appeased my parents who always complains my pumpkin pie is too sweet.

i was so tired, though, that i wasn’t able to enjoy the bliss of an after-turkey-feast. it took me everything in my power to try and stay awake. on the ride home, i was totally out.

on monday, we went for a hike in the woods. the changing fall colours are now almost over but we managed to still see some lingering splashes of red, orange and yellow. doug has a route on the way back from the little rouge creek, that takes us off the main trail. a good choice because there were so many people hiking that day. all through the year, the rouge trails are not that busy but come thanksgiving weekend, BAM! you have everyone and their dogs out and about!

the small path that separates us from the main one leads to an upper field. it was along this path we were able to let hobbes be leash-free. he bounced and bounded everywhere!

when i came back home, i took a 45 minute nap. so while this past weekend was a lot of fun, it was more tiring than i had anticipated.

still, i managed to get in some walking dead. i’m on season 3, episode 6. i have the biggest soft-spot for daryl.

a wedding at wychwood barns

wychwood barns

great place for urban weddings

last weekend, we had the pleasure of attending our family doctor’s (and long time family friend’s) daughter’s wedding.

both the ceremony and reception were held at wychwood barns – which basically introduced me to a whole new community within or city. i’ve now discovered their weekly farmer’s market and cafe. we’ll be sure to return by transit on a saturday to spoil ourselves with fresh produce from the local farmers surrounding the GTA.

the wedding itself was amazing. the bride did mostly all the planning and organizing, which was impressive, since she’s also midway through her 5 year residency in her medical career (she is going to be a specialist and surgeon in her field).

this was a special wedding for me because i remember ‘babysitting’ her when she was younger than chaeli. when my family went  over to their house for dinner, i would entertain her, not unlike how chaeli now ‘babysits’ the younger ones when we get together with our group of friends.

the bride has now grown up to be an amazingly mature and responsible woman. i am so proud of her! everything she sets her heart on, she achieves. and in the most ethical and moral way.

the groom matches the bride – they are perfect for one another. and i’m so happy she found some one so supportive and good-natured. there’s been a few times in my life when i meet a SO of a friend/relative where i get this strong, gutt-instinct that this is ‘the one’. i have not been wrong yet – and i definitely had this feeling when i first met her then boyfriend/now husband.

the food was fantastic. i checked out the caterer they used. they are involved with the community’s farmer’s market – the whole thing is under the stop’s community food centre

the program does so much more, though, than just catering and running the food market and cafe. there are after-school programs, summer camp, classes and a food bank. but overall, they take action in poverty awareness (the cause), educating families about nutritious eating, awareness of self-sustainable food systems and basically, a program which concentrates on getting sustainable, nutritious foods to those experiencing poverty.

their mission statement says it all:

The Stop strives to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds health and community and challenges inequality.

anyway, it was a caterer chosen specifically by the bride which does not surprise me. she’s always done her part to be responsible for the environment with a strong awareness about global poverty.

the rest of the wedding night was superb. chaeli was a huge hit on the dance floor as she strutted her stuff and showed her dance moves to popular tunes. i, myself, have not remember having so much fun dancing in a very long time. as a family, we definitely did our part partying it up!

back from the great white north…

there’s a lot to catch up on here but i’ve been super busy both at work and my home life.

we just got back from our easter weekend in t-bay, visiting with doug’s side of the family. the main reason we all went was because my PIL have closed their craft and hobby (hobbyist meaning more railway train models/sets) and retiring, after being a part of the community for over 25 years. saturday was their very last, official day they were opened for business.

not long after 4pm, they hung up the closed sign and we all pitched in to help out with the party preparations. by 5:30pm, the 35 plus guests had arrived – each one being a significant part of the store’s history. in fact, i even worked the cash register to make it official for myself. i know i was invited because i’m part for the family (both doug and my SIL grew up working it the store), but i wanted to earn my invitation.

i met a lot of interesting people – all who had great stories. i wish i had the time to meet and talk with all of them but the evening went by so fast.

anyway, the toast was quite emotional and to finalize everything, the very first customer they had (one who’s been faithful all these years), made his very last purchase. he wanted to be the first. and he wanted to be the last.

i felt it was very appropriate.

going back to t-bay will be a little bit different. we spent the day doing a lot of ‘traditions’ we normally do. earlier that morning, we went to get coffee (and brunch) at a diner across the street with the regulars – the regulars being old-time hobbyist friends whom visited and purchased from the store often. but throughout the years, the tradition was to meet up for coffee every saturday and brunch on the last saturday of the month. they talked about railroads and trains and everything both in between and outside of their shared interest.

we wanted to also go across to coney island for our usual lunch fare everytime we are helping out at the store. but unfortunately, due to the fact that it was the long weekend, it was closed. we’ll have to still go back the next time we go for a visit. they have these slider dogs/hamburgers topped with their home-made chili. and their fries are one of the best!

it will be different when we go back – not having the store to lounge around and people watch from inside. while it wasn’t the same for me as it was for doug or my SIL, i definitely will miss it.

hobbes the firecracker

he hates wearing anything so i imagine he wasn’t at all pleased with the costume i picked out for him.

dog halloween costume

“god help me”

i wouldn’t have bothered buying that firecracker costume yesterday except that, well, first of all, it was only a couple of bucks since it was bought after halloween and most of all, we were invited to a halloween party for small pooches at a local off-leash park.

the party was only for small breeds and was held in the small dog, off-leash area. the only problem was that we normally cross through the off-leash area for the bigger breeds to get to the gate of the small dogs only area.

not a second after we entered, a couple of big dogs came running up to hobbes and started to chase him. as we walked, i noticed hobbes was getting quite a lot of attention. it only dawned on me that they were actually after the firecracker on hobbes’ back.

the fact that hobbes would run away from them basically made it a game for them – look! it’s a moving toy! lets get it!!!

poor hobbes.

i also figured out that dooce probably edits her photos of chuck when she requires a modesty patch right within flickr. thought i should try it myself – and the perfect opportunity came about today when hobbes saw me coming downstairs and immediately rolled onto his back as if to say, “ah. you’ve arrived. rub my belly.” typical male behaviour.

hobbes rolled onto his back

a patch for hobbes’ thing-a-ling

red curry mussels, date in the woods and bbq-pool party

with chaeli visiting my PILs, doug and i had a date-weekend rather than just a date night. we actually hummed and hawed about going out for a nice dinner but by the time the end of the week rolled around, neither of us actually felt like leaving home.

friday night, we ended up making some thai red curry mussels for dinner. we accompanied it with a fresh baguette and some apple riesling wine. i can’t tell you how amazing it was! to dip the bread into the spicy, yet savory, creamy broth. we’ve been trying to replicate the first time we had red curry mussels from the san francisco food-haunt, fog city diner. which is still the best we’ve ever had. this recipe is about the closest we could fine. i recall the red curry ‘soup’ from fog city diner was thicker – creamier. i suspect it was just them adding a heavier type of coconut cream (or just cream on top of the coconut milk).

definitely a lovely dinner. and before that, while having a pre-dinner drink (gin & tonic), we sat in the living room and talked. i mean… really talked. a nice conversation. no serious stuff but just one of those good talks one finds with a best friend. luckily for me, this best friend also happens to be a life partner.

saturday, we went just on the outskirts of our city, north of us, to a conservation area. it was an idea i had awhile ago, to check out some of the trails at the bruce mill park. while most of the time, our hikes involve chaeli, i have to admit it was also nice to go just the two of us. we can cover more mileage and be a bit more adventurous. in other words, we got lost. not on purpose, but we certainly didn’t seem to care to follow a direct path. it was good – just over 3km in an hour with some hilly areas to boot.

hobbes definitey got his workout!

we stayed home for dinner again – this time making maple glazed, buttermilk grilled chicken, kelp chips and some small potatos. doug made plenty for leftovers (which was eaten tonight). a good recipe – the buttermilk really does marinate the meat, making it nice and juicy.

sunday, our friends, di and rick, had a bbq pool party. it was such a good time – with a crazy amount of food! of course, like most weekends, food is a symbolic part of our lives. i made a pasta and asparagus salad with a lemon-honey dressing (definitely better to make the night before to allow the acidity of the lemon rind and juice mellow out a bit). i left the pasta in just a smidge too long to be on the al dente side but after chilling in the fridge it surpassed. it was my first time making this recipe – next time i’m going to up the garlic and lemon a little and use less pasta. even though i used a whole bunch of asparagus, i felt it could have used more – it would certainly pump up the nutrients!

as a bonus, we got go hang out with rita, harry and their boys – they live in the connecticut and it was just so nice to catch up with them! i definitely miss it when they were living in TO.