Hi friends! I hope you’re having a good winter so far. How are we at the end February already? Seriously. Last time I
posted checked, we were celebrating Christmas. CRAZY! How did that happen?
Happy First Day of March! I actually finished this post yesterday but somehow forgot to hit publish, which is why you aren’t getting this ’til today. Ooops. But because I did write this at the end of February (I swear!), I’m still allowed to be talking about winter, snow and Christmas… right? (crossing my fingers that you agree). This paragraph was just added today, because I don’t normally like to write more than I need to 😀 So let’s pretend it’s still February…even for the few
hours minutes it takes you to read/browse this post.
Remember awhile back I’d said you’d see some changes on my blog? And a new name? It’s just about ready! I’ve been busy creating my brand new site which will be more food-focused but don’t worry– I’ll still be sharing travel stories, too. I’m pretty excited and really hope you guys will like it. Just a warning though, it’s gonna be heavy in the geek department 😀
Superman Pie, anyone? Lois asked me to make this for her friend Clark. She wanted to let him know she’s onto him (whoa, that could have a couple different meanings..EEK). You’re secret’s out, Superman. Er, I mean Clark. BUSTED by a yummy Sweet Cherry Pie. Whoopsies!
The Man of Steel approves of this pie. It’s a mix of sweet cherries (frozen–but I can’t wait to make it with fresh ones this summer), a dash of cardamom, lots of cinnamon and a splash of Grand Marnier for a SUPER yummy flavour (see what I did there?).
Not into superheros (say WHAT??) but you’re still feeling sorta nostalgic for the 80s?
Okay, how about a Pac-Man pie to bring you back to those lazy hazy Saturday afternoons at the arcade? (I may or may not be old enough to remember spending all my free time with my friends at our local arcade which, I might add, was way too conveniently located close to my high school). Ok, I’ll admit it…I played a pretty mean Pac-Man back in the day (even though I’m still 21…Shh!!). Waka waka waka. Here…let me distract you with a pie!
This is a Wild Blueberry and Cinnamon pie. Such a great mix and catching those elusive pastry ghosts was so darn yummy! I felt like I was 8 years old again (so about 10 years ago, or so… he he).
Apparently February 27th was National Strawberry Day. Yep, in the middle of winter instead of, say– maybe June? Whoever came up with that is not the brightest crayon in the box, but let’s roll with it. It gave me a great
excuse opportunity to make something with strawberries since it’s been too long.
I figured there was probably no better way to celebrate it than with a bucketful of fresh(ish) strawberries, loads of chocolate and Deadpool. Who’s with me?
Because when your buddy Deadpool asks you to make him a pie you really can’t say no. He insisted actually, and he used quite foul language (yikes!) while he was at it. So I figured I’d better comply with his demands just so he doesn’t beat me up. And he told me he likes strawberries so I think this will appease him. I think I’m safe for now (at least until his next pie request, anyway….Womp womp womp). I’m happy he liked his pie though because it took me MAXIMUM EFFORT to make it a good likeness of him (#extrageekalert)
It’s time to take a break from pies & all things geek (but just a short break– I promise)
I can’t believe how fast winter seems to be flying by this year. Anyone else notice this? The fact that it’s been milder than usual probably helps. One day last week we reached 14C (!!) which is unheard of in mid February around these parts (hello, Canada? Brrr). We’re normally at -10 at this time of year, and usually it’s much colder even. Back in November I was playing with the idea of going south this winter but I’m actually glad I didn’t book anything because this has been the best winter ever.
The milder weather means I can spend more time outdoors soaking up my Vitamin D too. And it’s much easier to enjoy all that sun when it’s not -45!
The days are getting much longer now, too which I love. Like many Canadians, I’ve diagnosed myself with Seasonal Affective Disorder so by the time January rolls around the shorter days have really started to take their toll.
At this time of year the sun is setting approximately 1 minute later, sometimes two, every day (I might check this stuff regularly) and now it’s light out until almost 6pm. I’m definitely counting down the days ’til Daylight Savings (11!) and Spring is here in less than 3 weeks (18 days, baby!). If you wanna follow along, I’ve added a Spring Countdown here on my blog :). Don’t worry my fellow winter-haters, I got yer backs.
Even though we’re having a mild winter, I don’t plan to dig out my flip flops from storage just yet. I learned THAT lesson a few years ago when I hauled my summer clothes out after a mild start to spring and the next day THIS happened. This was early April one year (2007) in Ottawa.
You can imagine the curse words that were uttered (and I rarely swear, except around Deadpool–he’s a bad influence) when I woke up to this surprise that morning. It took my friend Al an hour to even find his van in the driveway, let alone clear it off.
Okay, I’m still trying to repress that memory. Let’s move on to something much more fun, shall we?
Like pie! Um, yeah, back to pie. You can never get enough pie, right? Although I’m thinking about re-starting a strict paleo plan so I might not be baking/eating much of the pies I make (or trying not to, anyway).
I made this for my fella for Valentines Day. Is there a better way to show your love than Darth Vader and an insane amount of chocolate? Welcome to the Dark Chocolate Side everyone. It’s tasty to be here.
This is a rich chocolate cream pie on a gluten-free chocolate cookie crust and a smattering of homemade raspberry preserves on top. For some reason, using Darth Vader on my pie just called for something ‘red’…(Hmm, very strange indeed). I don’t generally like to mix fruit with my chocolate, but this was a fun addition and it worked out really well. The dark chocolate shavings on top certainly helped balance out the fruit. You really can’t ever have too much chocolate.
Because we’re just about into March it feels very weird to chat about Christmas buuuuuuuuut better late than never, right? (don’t answer that question). So I thought I’d still share a little holiday recap with ya’ll.
My holiday was fabulous but it was also insanely busy with my baking marathon leading up the holidays. I got tons of orders (thanks to my sweet friends for recommending me…you guys rock!) and this was on top of the gazillion doggie and human treats I usually make every Christmas for my clients and friends.
I was quite happy to take a break from the kitchen by the time Christmas came around. And the desire to take a baking break rarely happens…
On Christmas Eve, when I was finally done all my baking, it was time to meet my friend Al for a festive drink and dinner. It was the perfect way to kick off the holidays!
We’ve been doing Christmas Eve together for almost 20 years so it’s pretty much a tradition now. Al hails from the Yukon so it’s a pretty far trek to go for just a short time (though he does go home occasionally). Since my dad’s passing a few years ago, I don’t really do much for the holidays anymore. My mom and I aren’t close at all, unfortunately, and my brother lives across the country and never comes home at Christmas. Plus I haven’t heard from him in a long time, so that doesn’t help. Most of you know about all my family ‘drama’ so I wont’ go into it here. Things happen, I’m dealing with it. I really miss my dad so Christmas is always kinda tough, but it does get a bit easier every year.
I did, however, get together with my favourite Aunt during the holidays and we always have a fun visit when the two of us meet up. She’s the best (and kookiest) woman on the planet. Never a dull moment with this sweet lass.
I’m also grateful for friends who always include me in their holiday festivities as well. Especially Kat, one of my dearest besties, who always makes time for me even though she’s super busy with her own family at Christmas. We always laugh until our ribs hurt, it’s great. She and I have been finishing each others sentences since 1989 💖
Normally Billy and I go somewhere for the holidays as well, even if it’s just a short road trip. This year’s was quite spontaneous as we didn’t have a plan, or a destination, until a few days before Christmas (we were both too busy baking/working to plan anything, really).
We ended up going on a super fun road trip to Barrie (north of Toronto) to visit Billy’s awesome long-time friends’, Lenka & Brad. Since our trip was fairly spontaneous, all of the rental cars were already gone so we got stuck with a truck. While I do love a good truck (my ‘dream’ car is a pick up truck–yeehaw!) we learned that our credit card insurance doesn’t cover truck rentals so it ended up costing us almost triple what we expected, and budgeted for, on this road trip. Oops! Lesson learned. We’ll definitely plan more in advance if we’re going to rent a car again– especially during the holidays.
But it was a great road trip and we had an absolute blast with Lenka and Brad. These two of some of the sweetest, kindest and most generous people you’ll meet. Our holiday consisted of loads of laughs, shenanigans, wine, card games and dart competitions, and amazing food. Brad is an exceptional cook and Lenka is the hostess with the mostess and a party-planning/organizer Queen.
We loved spending part of the holidays with them (thanks guys💕) and both of us had such a fabulous time.
We had Christmas dinner the night we arrived and it was absolutely fabulous. It was one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in a long time. Brad rocks in the kitchen!
The next night we checked out a local brewpub Barnstormer which was a lot of fun. I couldn’t try their beer unfortunately (ok, I had a sip), but they had a nice cider and the food was pretty good.
Brad wasn’t too happy about how long he waited for his beer. Or maybe it’s because the pizza was all gone, we’re not too sure.
Billy seemed awfully happy when Brad attempted to put him in a choke hold when it was discovered that there was some missing beer.
Lenka and Brad have a ‘games’ room in the basement and we had fun playing a few rounds of darts. No eyes were even poked out in the process…surprisingly!
This is Bing, their cute doggie friend. He really likes Brad…and beer.
Some euchre fun, wine and beers, and a delicious cheesecake! YUM
Because it’d been a couple of days since I baked anything, I was itching to bake something. So with our hosts out at a family gathering for one of the evenings we were there, I may or may not have sneaked into the kitchen and made them some Toblerone Shortbread.
Fortunately it was a success, even though it took me 3 hours to find a mixer (!!!??) While this may be quite normal for some, any baker such as myself might also find this insane. I must use mine every single day (haha) so it’s up there in an obvious place with the flour, sugar, pots, frying pan, chocolate, coffee….all the normal stuff I’d reach for in my kitchen at any given moment.
I found their mixer in a back closest— between the closest black hole and the nearest Death Star (HA!). I think they were more surprised they even had one and that I actually found it.
“Hey guys, I made you cookies. Luckily I found the mixer”
“What? No way, you found the mixer? Wait..what? We have a mixer?”
Not too surprisingly, it looked like the one my Grandma used back in 1939 so I was surprised it even worked. But it did! And luckily they enjoyed the cookies. I suspect the mixer might not get used again until our next visit and I do a hostile kitchen takeover (he he).
This guy liked the cookies too. And the Christmas tree photo opp.
See how normal (ish) my hair looked in this pic? (I’m looking at you, Lenka). As any of my friends who’ve done a sleepover party with me can attest, I have the wildest hair upon awakening and it’s usually not the ideal time to do a photo shoot (haha). If you don’t know me that well (though I suspect most of you wouldn’t be overly surprised given how my hair normally looks) just pretend you’re having a sleepover with your friends and one of them wakes up looking like one of the dudes in Metallica. Or Twisted Sister. Or, worse, Kiss. Yes it’s that bad.
While standing at Niagara Falls (back in September–and I’d already brushed my hair that morning!) I looked like I was doing an 80’s heavy metal video. ROCK ON!
I was a rocker in the East Coast too. In fact, I can probably do a travel post on JUST my crazy hair pics. Stay tuned 😀
Okay enough laughing you guys, and let’s get back to Barrie.
Our little monkey came along for the trip and enjoyed bossing poor Bing around. Even though it was more his house than hers (haha). What a kook.
Too much holiday fun means nap time for both of these guys. Two peas in a pod. (Go Redblacks!)
We stopped in Kingston, Ontario for coffee along the way and did a fun walk with the little cutie.
How about this view (Lake Ontario) with your morning coffee?
When we got back to town we squeezed in a visit with my lovely friend Jen at her Mom’s place for New Year’s dinner. Jen’s mom, Joan, is an incredible cook and she never ceases to amaze me with her meals and desserts, too (she’s a big inspiration to me since she’s such an amazing baker). We had a wonderful time with their family and dinner was amazing.
We also did a holiday brunch at one of our favourite restaurants in Ottawa when we got back home. Delicious!
Hope you guys are doing wonderfully and don’t forget to check back here for my newly revamped blog very soon. Happy Daylight Savings/Spring, though I’ll likely be back with another rambly post (along with too many pie pictures) before then.
Lots of love,
Dana (the rocker chick) xo