Cake successes

A few months ago now, Charissa and I took the next level of the cake-decorating class, this time learning how to make flowers out of royal icing.

The course ended right around the time that fundraising for the CHEO bike ride was supposed to start. So of course, knowing that practice makes perfect, I decided to offer decorated baked goodies as an incentive for donations. More money raised for CHEO, more baking and decorating practice for me, delicious goods for my coworkers – perfect!

I agonized over donation -> kind of baked treat mapping for a while, but eventually settled on a scheme that I thought was manageable. Cupcakes for most of the “tiers”, with a cake being the reward for the highest “tier” of donations. In my fundraising email, I made a flippant/brilliant comment (I still can’t decide whether I was serious or not) about how I was almost hoping not many people would donate that much, so I didn’t need to make too many cakes.

Well then. What I didn’t expect was the uptake of my offer – luckily I only sent it out to a subset of coworkers. 5 of them donated enough to earn themselves a cake, with the others getting various numbers of cupcakes. And over the course of the last month, poor hubby has had to watch a stream of cakes leaving the house, none of them available for him to sample. 🙂 My poor patient man!







This seems to have turned into a porcupine-cam blog, but I’ll roll with it for now.


We’ve been seeing Porky on and off a few times a week lately. This afternoon, in the middle of a windstorm, I saw him teetering on a pretty thin tree. “Poor thing”, I thought, why is he up there? The answer, of course, was snacks. When I went out to investigate, it turned out that he had gnawed off a little branch, and was methodically cleaning leaves off of it. Apparently he likes his fresh young leaves!


He was cute, holding on to the swaying trunk with his hind legs, grasping the food branch in his front.


Having taken a few photos, I went inside, keeping an eye on him. Next time I wandered into the room – he was no longer on the tree. “Odd”, I thought. We’ve seen him down-climb before, and he’s definitely very meticulous about his foot placement – and veeeery slow. My guess is that he fell, given the strength of the wind that day and the short timespan between him being up in the tree… and not.

When I went out to check, he was below the tree, chuffing to himself and fluffing out his coat. Poor guy.


When I went back inside to report all this to hubby, both of us were a bit concerned about Porky hurting himself. You know what? It must not have been too bad, though – because half an hour later, guess where I saw him?


Back up the same tree, gnawing on an even higher branch… *facepalm* Oh you poor dummy.

He’s back!

Remember Porky? Well, it appears that he’s made our neighbourhood his home!


On a few different occasions now we’ve seen him around. For the last month, we kept seeing him napping in one of the fir trees out back.


While they may make a good perch for a porcupine, they’re pretty bad for being able to take pictures of said porcupine!


Doesn’t he look a little bit prehistoric?


Today, however, he chose a (birch?) tree farther back in the forest, providing some nice views. I think this is definitely the latest we’ve had this little leaf cover on the trees.


Unfortunately, it was getting close to dark by the time I spotted him, so the lighting wasn’t that great for taking photos. And I didn’t want to blind the poor thing with a flash, possibly causing him to fall out of the tree, poke himself with his own needles, and risk getting an infection and dying (yes, apparently they’re so prone to doing that that their skin contains antibiotics – how is that for genetically engineered superiority?!).

Hello 30

I’m generally a pretty organized person. In fact, one might say I’m generally a pretty obsessively organized person.

So it was with great surprise that I arrived at MEC today for my cross-country ski waxing lesson to find out that… it had happened yesterday. Huh. Is this the first sign that things start going downhill very quickly after you hit 30?

In other news – I bought cross-country skis! Dan and I decided it was a waste of all the green space behind our house (the golfers around here aren’t that extreme), and I’d rather take up skiing as a winter fitness activity. I have visions of making a ramp off our deck so I could quite literally ski out the back door.


Now if only the weather would cooperate and snow enough to cover the layer of pure ice last week’s rain left us with…


It took me months to read book one. Although that’s probably not fair to the book… it took me months of it sitting on my night-table, and Dan pestering me to read it, for me to pick it up. It took me many more weeks to get through about the first hundred pages.

It was only following a glut of library books (due to my ill-timed hold expirations), when in over-reaction I pushed all my holds too far back and was left with no books to read, for me to really start reading the book. Finished it within two weeks, I think.

It took me 3 days to finish book two. You’d think I was kidding… but no. And none of those days were on a weekend, I might add. I’d say it was fair to say I was hooked. I’m not sure if it was the long break from reading science fiction, which may have played a part – but I’d like to think that it had more to do with the writing. An interesting concept, well-written, part adventure and part murder-mystery.

So now I’m lingering over the third and final book in the series. Let it be a testament to my self-control that I’ve now had the book for 5 days (two of which did happen to fall on a weekend, this time) and am “only” about 3/4 of the way through. To be honest, I’m trying to stretch it out, because I’ve really grown to like the characters and don’t want to see their story come to an end. [EDIT: I finished it a week. This was written a while ago. The book was still awesome.]

For a book that Dan picked up on a whim at the used book sale (as far as I know), it rates an 11!

As an aside, I also crystallized the reasons for my dislike of ebooks. The biggest one being completely individual and having to do with my reading style. I like to flip back and forth. That’s just how I read. If a conversation or description in one part of a book triggers something in my memory, I like to search back through the book to see what caught my attention, how this new information ties in with what was revealed previously, etc. It drove me mad trying to do that on an ereader (which I had to use for book 2 since I was too impatient to wait for my turn for a paper copy at the library). I fully get the convenience of the device, and would probably use it for trips or if I commuted by public transit, but at home nothing still beats an old-fashioned book.

Oh. I guess I should mention what book it was. 🙂 The Species Imperative by Julie Czerneda.

And since hubby would say no post is complete without a photo – I saw this most excellent sunrise on Christmas Eve day.


The end of an era

Want to know what $2600 and a very frazzled me look like?


Yup. I was rear-ended yesterday. There go nearly 16 years (minus a few months?) of accident-free driving since I got my license. Not my fault – but the accident-free counter in my head still gets reset!

As for the other car? The stupid older SUV barely had a scratch on its own bumper. Likely a carrier of the same metal bumper that came in so handy as a defence mechanism when hubby got rear-ended while driving his own monster a few years back. A handy thing when you have one… on the receiving end, though, my opinion of said bumpers ranges quite far into the “unprintable” category.

It was also a good time to put my new smartphone through its paces, which it passed with flying colours, allowing me to look up the location of police stations. Not the phone’s fault that my hands were so shaky that I didn’t actually notice that the station I had picked was not open on Sundays. On the other hand… WTF Ottawa? We have 5 police stations in the city and only one that is open 24 hours, with at least one not open on Sundays???

The whole kerfuffle has also led to some very atypical behaviour on my part in the last 24 hours. I missed my volleyball game with about 5 minutes’ warning, as I was on my way there when the accident happened. Sorry team. I also was late for a scheduled appointment – our hardwood getting delivered, woot! (but more on that later) I had gone to the body shop to get an estimate and a time when I could drop off the car – and the nice estimator forbid me from driving my car away since with the trunk lid cracked open the fumes could seep into the car. Waiting for and dealing with the rental car ate well past the 1-hour buffer I’d left myself for that estimate appointment. Whoops.

The one nice thing about this has actually been the concern of the service people I’ve been dealing with. One of the first things everyone has asked was whether I was hurt, followed by assurances that it’s just plastic and it can all be fixed. Still… my poor baby! I feel so bad for my little car. 😦

Despite the lack of posts, we didn’t miss our annual tradition of going out to get a real live christmas tree. We had been planning to go out to the tree farm on the Saturday, but delayed due to the dreadful weather, which once again included freezing rain.


But first – a very belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who sees this! Or maybe it’s not late, but just super-early for next year? And of course there are still the orthodox christmas and new year… yes… that’s what I was aiming for! 🙂

We definitely did not regret our decision when a frosty and nearly-clear Sunday greeted us the next day. Possibly since we were so early, we didn’t see too many people on the way to the farm. It was a whole different story when we were leaving, of course!

Before selecting a tree, hubby had to play a round of “good idea, bad idea”. Take that, “running with scissors”!


NB: No hubbies or christmas trees were hurt in the making of this photograph.

We wandered up and down the rows a few times, leaving random articles of clothing or saws near certain trees to mark our favourites, before we settled on this beauty.

the_chosen_oneFor those curious, yes, that tree does fit under our standard-sized ceilings. But just barely. As can be attested by a nice straight scrape in the ceiling popcorn from when it had to be tipped into the stand. Oops.

This year, we wandered into a different section of the farm from where we’ve previously gotten our trees, and were rewarded with a nice view as we crossed a little stream to get there. I think this is the least-frozen I’ve seen this stream in the couple of years we’ve been going to the same farm (the weather more than made up for that later, in the week surrounding Christmas).



All dressed up in its rightful place, we’re pretty happy with our tree this year.


Again, hubby convinced me to get a mini-tree for the entrance (a tradition we started last year), but unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it. But I’m coming to love this tradition, since this is the tree that greets you with its twinkling tinsel and lights as soon as you walk in the door.

And of course I had to insert a completely gratuitous picture the kitties to end the post with… but it counts because it was taken in from of the christmas tree… right? 🙂


Checking out

A conversation I had with the cashier at the checkout today:

[general pleasantries]
Him: How was your weekend?
Me: Pretty good. A lot of driving..
Him: Oh yeah? Driving kids to hockey and stuff?

I mean, I know I don’t look 21 anymore, but hockey mom? I guess I need to upgrade my wardrobe and care routine before I leave the house. 😀

By the campfire

[A campfire on Stratton Lake in Algonquin Park]

Last Saturday was a dreadful reminder of things to come – pouring rain all day, cold, and lights on in the kitchen when making breakfast at 8:30. The weather has really improved since then, but I think over the next few months I will need wonderful reminders of summertime camping trips, like this one, to get me through the winter.

The itsy-bitsy spider