Saturday, December 14, 2019

Chocolate Cherry Bread

One of the most interesting foods I've tasted lately was a loaf of chocolate cherry bread that I bought at a bakery/cafe in Dundas, Ontario (now a part of Hamilton)...

My daughter had heard good things about the Detour Cafe... Looking them up online, for this link, I see that they also roast their own coffee beans, which they sell online.

Waiting for a table to open up, I stood near a rack of fresh baked goods - and noticed a round loaf of dark brown yeast bread - chocolate cherry bread.

We bought a loaf - it was delicious! It tasted much like raisin bread - but, to a chocolate-lover like me, much better... Not too sweet - though I think I detected a few chocolate chips, which were a nice touch.

My next baking goal is to find a recipe and try to make some.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Toronto Christmas Market

The problem with outdoor Christmas markets in Canada is that they can be very cold!

That's my main memory of the Christmas Market I visited with my son's family in Toronto a few weeks ago...

Feeling sorry for those  (in red coats) taking tickets at the entrance, I headed for indoor shelter as quickly as I could!

It was fun to wander around - indoors!

(I gravitated to galleries...)

In all fairness, others did enjoy the outdoors!

There wasn't any snow - but the wind in the Distillery District - near Lake Ontario - was chilling...

(So glad I didn't plan to talk to Santa!)

His elves were very entertaining...

We ended our day in a lovely pub-restaurant...

The outdoor cold made us appreciate the warm food and good times!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

December Outdoor Walking Again!

It has been a real treat - the past few days - to go out walking in the neighborhood...

The ice or snow on the ground has mostly melted!

I headed over to the library (about a mile away) to return a book...

Then walked home through a neighborhood schoolyard.

I used to work in this building - when my kids were in elementary school. (We used to park on this side of the building in those days... I wonder why they don't anymore.)

My kids would sometimes stop by after school on their way home.

Then down a footpath shortcut I used to take... 

Lots of neighborhood memories!

Just as I arrived home, it started to snow - light, fluffy flakes... Then the sun came out...

Will the sun melt these flakes or not?!

I'd be happy with a few more days - or weeks - without snow!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Walking Outdoors... Again!

Snow has been melting over the past few days...

It's exciting for me to be able to get outside and walk again - even if it is drizzling...

I've been trying to take long walks at least three times a week. The past few weeks - with snow on the ground - I've headed to the largest indoor shopping mall in our part of town.

There I'd walk all three floors at least once (while Terry read and enjoyed coffee in the food court).

I was recently reminded that "exercise is medicine" for type 2 diabetics... So it's important for me to keep at it, whether indoors or out!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


The problem with being retired (if there is a problem!) is that... there are few deadlines - so I can fritter away my time... But now, as Christmas approaches, I want to get a few things done today...

Send cards, wrap gifts, mail checks...

And tidy up stuff that has accumulated on my desk over the course of the past few months.

Maybe I need to look at today as a day in the office - like in my working years - and get the tasks done that need to be done. I wonder if looking at the same "to do" list again and again - and never completing it - is demoralizing for me.

Maybe I need a fresh clean start - with an empty list! Nothing needs to be done!

Now that would be amazing!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

When we were last at Baker Bob's in Almonte, I noticed he was selling oatmeal sandwich cookies that reminded me of ones my mother used to make: Two flat oatmeal cookies sandwiched together with a paste of dates (and water).

I bought one. It tasted just like the ones I remember...

When I got home, I searched for my mother's recipe.

I found it in  her old Purity Cookbook.

Of course, I halved the recipe - the original calls for 6 cups of rolled oats and 2 cups of flour.

For "melted fat" I used half coconut oil and half olive oil - as I'm trying to eat "vegan" these days. (Everything must be plant-based... That means no butter!) The recipe is "vegan-friendly" - it doesn't call for eggs.

In spite of this, I did find it hard to manage the dough, which was sticky... Perhaps I should have added more flour when rolling it.

I baked about half the dough in flat rounds - then, taking a short cut, added chopped dates to the other half, and baked them as "drop cookies" - in mounds dropped from a spoon. Much easier!

I froze the flat rounds for a later date, when I'll make the date "paste" to "glue" the sandwiches together.

They are a lot more work than drop cookies. I can see why my mother stopped making them!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Advent Reading...

I like to pull out books to read at different times of the year..

I always travel with a book, though I don't always read it...

I took two books to Toronto when I was there in November. I didn't open them! I did, however, read stuff online...

Now, during advent, I've dug out a few books I'd like to read...

I've chosen ones to make me reflect on the "reason for the season" of Christmas...

It will be interesting to see if I get any reading done... December can be a busy time!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Christmas Spirit ... in Dundas, Ontario

In late November, Terry and I spent an afternoon in Dundas, Ontario - a picturesque old town that is now part of the city of Hamilton.

Christmas spirit was evident everywhere...

The event was called a "Dickens of a Christmas"...

The town Christmas tree had been lit...

Santa was greeting passers-by.

There were free cookies and apple cider - as well as wagon rides!

A Dickens of a Christmas continues weekends until December 22...


Friday, December 6, 2019

Almonte... in Wintery Weather

The day was sunny - but cool.

Let's head out to one of our favorite towns - for a change of scene, I suggested to Terry. All too soon, roads will be covered with snow - and we won't go anywhere...

So we headed to Almonte...

We walked along a river path...

Then we headed over to see what "Baker Bob" was selling...

As we exited his bakery, we couldn't help but notice that someone had taken pity of the statue of James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, who grew up in Almonte.

He was wearing a hat and scarf...

He definitely looked warmer wearing them!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Play Spaces in Toronto

Visiting my granddaughter in Toronto, I've discovered that nowadays there are quite a few indoor play spaces where children can go to play...

On weekends, these spaces are booked for parties...

Parents, grandparents, or care-givers, of course, have to supervise the children they bring...

For the children, it's fun to play with new toys...

My granddaughter especially enjoyed grocery "shopping" and preparing pretend food...

Another time, she spent an afternoon at a place with trampolines and structures for climbing...

It was fun for her to mix it up...

And it was fun for me to sit back and watch!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

ALL? (Or a SELECT Few?)

I did a double take when I saw this store sign...

So ALL coats are discounted 40%...

That’s interesting...


Don’t know if ALL are on sale... Or just a SELECT few?!

What does this sign actually mean?!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Shopping at Canada’s First L.L. Bean Store

Like Marge Simpson, the TV cartoon mom in "the Simpsons," I wear the same style of clothing most of  the time. If I find a garment I like, I buy it in several colours to mix it up a bit.

In my teaching days, I purchase clothing from a Toronto retailer who sold skirts with large pockets, perfect for holding keys, pens, and chalk.

Since retiring, my clothing "style" has changed. Now I often buy cozy fleece tops - and coats - online from L.L. Bean, a store in the USA.

The main problem with online shopping is that you can't try on a garment before buying it.

So I was thrilled to learn that the company recently opened its first Canadian store in the Toronto area. Now I can actually try things on before deciding whether or not to purchase them.

The selection isn’t as large as the online catalogue, needless to say... But on my first trip to the store I found two soft fleece shirts I know will be perfect for cooler weather.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Making Gingerbread Cookies

I've never done a lot of Christmas baking - unlike my mother who always made cookies as well as two  kinds of Christmas cake, one light and one dark. She would freeze them and enjoy them for months.

I did have one Christmas baking tradition when my children were young: making gingerbread bears.
I repeated the same tradition with my granddaughter this year...

Hope she had fun..

I did!

It brought back a lot of old memories!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

We all start out so small!

Holding a new-born baby is a reminder that we all start out so small! We grow up - and old - so quickly!

Holding my new-born grandson, I asked my son to take a picture of the baby’s hand resting on mine.

When I see him next, he won’t be this small.

I want to remember how tiny his hands were when he was born.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Changes Sometimes Occur!

Ever since the college expanded its campus in our neighborhood, about 20 years ago - and began charging students and visitors for parking - shopping centres and neighborhood streets have been overcrowded with the cars of college students looking for a place to park for free.

Street by street, neighbours have petitioned the city to limit street parking.

Terry has been an active advocate for years...

So it was gratifying for him to see signs go up on our street a few days ago.

So glad it has happened before winter - when city snowplows often struggle to clear the snow from our street because they can’t get through the cars parked on both sides of the street...

It takes a lot of work and advocacy, but sometimes change happens!!

Thanks to our neighbour, Mary, for catching this moment in pictures.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Play is Good Exercise!

One of my mother's sisters lost 10 pounds in one month - babysitting her grandchildren. Retired (like me), she normally lived a sedentary life, much like I do... But for that one month, she was always on the go.  A lot of her walking was up and down stairs.

I thought of her when I arrived in Toronto to help look after my granddaughter. My right knee and hip were bothering me. Doing stairs was a struggle. Would I lose any weight?!

After 3 weeks, I felt great! No need to think about physiotherapy for my knee or hip now! Playing with a three-year-old was great exercise!

One day, in fact, I climbed 13 flights of stairs, according to my phone app. (But I didn’t come close to my aunt’s weight loss record... In three weeks, I only lost 2 pounds!)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Calling 9-1-1

The sound of honking horns made me look up.

Through the window I saw a young man lying on the side of the road next to the sidewalk.

Had he been in an altercation? I didn’t know. But he was having a hard time getting up.

When he stood up, then fell back down, I decided to call 9-1-1.

No-one answered.

As the phone kept ringing, I watched through the window as a taxi stopped. The young man got in and a moment later got out. Another taxi appeared. He got in that one and drove away.

Seeing this, I hung up.

A moment later, my phone rang. The 9-1-1 operator was now calling me.

I told her why I had called. She wanted to know details: taxi identification numbers... which I couldn't remember.

Thinking about it later, I decided that - if I ever need to call 9-1-1 again - I’ll only let the phone ring twice before I hang up. That way I'll be able to use my phone to take notes and photos, until the 9-1-1 dispatcher calls me back.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Baby Surprise

When they discovered that our three-year-old granddaughter would soon be a big sister, several great-aunts gave her dolls that were babies - to practice on.

 She took her new role seriously...
The dolls became the daily focus of her concern...

When her real live eight-pound baby brother arrived home from the hospital a few weeks later, she wanted to hold him...

But she was puzzled: Why is he so heavy?!

She expected him to be as light - and easy to carry - as her dolls!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


While in Toronto recently, I went to a car wash with my three-year-old granddaughter and her dad.

She was intrigued by all the things they were doing to their car, cleaning it inside and out.

I was more interested in learning why washing a car by hand is now called "detailing"!!

Where did that term originate?!!

(I haven't been able to find out.)