Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Do-Gooders Society (and damn proud of it)

I joined the Junior League of Toronto. I was a provisional member in the Houston Junior League, but when I was transferred to T.O., I was forced to resign. Finally, after 18 months of contract extensions, waiting to find out if my work visa was going to be extended or if I was going to be personally escorted to the Canadian/US border, I decided to jump in feet first and just join already.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Junior League, it’s basically a hoity-toity group of women who disguise their social climbing behind a mask of “volunteerism”. It’s essentially where former sorority girls go to die. At least in Houston it is. Just to give some perspective, the Toronto League currently has 88 active members not including the 15 who started today. The Houston League currently has 5,000 active members. You do the math. The Toronto League, unlike the Houston League, though, actually attempts to give back to the community (ok, not totally true, but sort of). It doesn’t care if you’re black, white, brown, big, small, young or old…it just cares that you care. And I care.

Needless to say, I’m excited and am blowing my own little horn about the possibilities that our “little engine” just might achieve. Blaaaaaat!

My friend Christina and I waiting for the subway post-JLT meeting

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Happy Birthday Robert Burns

In an ongoing and very concerted effort to keep a smile on my face this winter, I decided to I needed some greasy comfort food (sure, that’ll make me feel just great!). Last weekend, in an attempt to release my inner Paula Dean, I hit Loblaw’s to get the requisite ingredients to make a homemade Chicken Pot Pie and then realized that my craving was going to take approximately 7.5 days to prepare. So, I scrapped the “homemade” part of the plan and took myself out for dinner to my favorite Irish pub, The Foggy Dew, instead. The Foggy Dew is the kind of place that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. It’s dimly lit, has the perfect din level and has a great big fireplace smack dab in the middle of the bar. Everyone there – both employees and patrons – are cool and welcoming. I grabbed a seat at the bar, ordered a pint and of course, the yummy chicken pot pie with fresh Prince Edward County peas. Mmmm!

After about 5 minutes, I heard someone simultaneously reciting poetry and stabbing a giant piece of meat with a large knife. Several people stood up and toasted while he was doing this, but I didn’t really get it so I just kept watching the only thing they had on TV. About 10 minutes later, the same speech thing happened so I asked the bartender if this happened every Friday night. He laughed and told me they were celebrating Robert Burns Day, a famous Scottish poet known in most circles simply as “The Bard”. As I turned around to see the commotion, a live bagpiper started playing his bagpipes and marching around the bar, followed closely behind by a guy carrying a huge plate of haggis. Craziness! Then, everyone in the bar was served free Fried Mars Bar desserts in celebration. Sweet. I thought fried desserts were only found in Texas (Fried Twinkies! Fried Snickers!) but apparently Fried Mars Bars are very popular in Scotland. Who knew?

The moral of my little story is this: just when you think you can’t muddle through…pick yourself up, take yourself out and eat a fried dessert! I left happy, sated and not nearly as blue. I love you, Toronto!

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Real Tea vs Canadian Tea

I had a brief conversation with someone this week about proper iced tea. Of course, he was Canadian and therefore hardly aware of any other tea besides this kind. Granted, he has tried iced tea from McDonald’s and, while that doesn’t really count in my book as true iced tea, at least it’s actually brewed! I am in no way trying to take anything away from Nestea – it is a perfectly reputable brand – but any alleged tea maker who has the word “Instant” on their homepage is in no way the real thing.

So, being a true Southern girl with a keen opinion on the libation, I thought I’d take this opportunity to do a little comparison for all of you tea lovers out there.

How real sweet tea is made:
1) Boil a large pot of water
2) Steep actual tea bags for 5-7 minutes
3) Remove tea bags
4) Add 1 cup of sugar while tea is still hot; stir until sugar is dissolved (note: sugar does not dissolve in cold beverages)
5) Add enough water to fill up half of your container
6) Add mint leaves, fresh lemon wedges or any other fresh additive of your choice
7) Stir
8) Pour over ice and enjoy!

How Canadian tea is made:
1) Mix up all kinds of chemicals and ingredients that end in things like “-dioxide”, “-zonate”, “-lactin”, etc.
2) Shoot in artificial lemon juice
3) Add some dark food coloring to make beverage appear to be “actual” tea
4) Add processed air to keep bottle content “fresh”
5) Add screw top to keep preservatives in
6) Pour over ice and enjoy!

You can choose for yourself, of course…I’m just sayin’.

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Things I Did This Weekend

1) Completed my required prescription drugs. – You know how you get three trees’ worth of paper warnings and side effects with your Rx? Well those nasty side effect don’t usually apply to me and I rarely suffer from them. Until today. The evil pharmacist warned me that one of my prescriptions often causes a metal taste in your mouth. After three days – nothing. This morning, I woke up tasting so much metal in my mouth that I thought I might have sleepwalked my ass over to the Ritz Carlton being built on Wellington Street and gnawed my way through every single I-beam there. Even after being completely ridiculed for wearing braces not once, but twice, in my life (two years both times!), I have still never tasted this much metal in my mouth.

* If anyone knows how to rid my trap of this miserable chemical element taste, an email would be much appreciated.

2) Froze my ass off and woke up to shrill, grinding noise. – It’s still snowing outside. I am going to have to dig my way outta here today and am none too happy about it. The first 27 times it snowed, I was completely enamored. Now? It could never snow again and I’d be a happy girl. Actually, snow is quite beautiful when it’s falling and seems to silence the city in a way that it’s not normally. However – if I go to sleep when snow’s falling, I know I will in no way be getting a full night’s sleep. This is because of the oft dreaded snow plough. Inevitably, at 3 or 4am, I am jolted awake by a noise not all that different than nails on a chalkboard. My window faces an NFL football-field-sized parking lot, so I get to hear the grinding of metal against concrete for no fewer than two hours every time it snows. So it goes. This morning, I had the pleasure of hearing him at 4:30am.

Look, I totally grok that he has to clear the snow. But is it really a requirement that it happen before the crack o’dawn? I mean, it’s Sunday for Christ sake. The usually packed parking lot will nary be used today…well, at least not until after Noon. Honestly, my complaint isn’t that the man is doing his job. It’s simply the hour.

Please, Mr. Snow Clearing Man – get some sleep so I can too!

3) Passed this house. – Yes – those are actual plush toys glued and wrapped around this house on Bertmount Street in Leslieville. Apparently, they even change the toys out seasonally. Wow.

4) Ruined a perfectly good cheese grits casserole.

5) Did my very own science experiment. – As my blog name suggests, I am from Texas. This means that, until I moved to Canada, I had never experienced the extreme winter weather which I now get to grin and bear. It’s been unusually cold over the past week (I know – that horse has been beaten) so I decided to see if water really would freeze solid if left outside on my balcony in -20C temps. Last night, I put out about 4 cups of water in a plastic jug and in a few minutes, after I peel myself out of bed and wrap my head eight times, I’ll check the results.

Author’s note: I finally made it outside and – brace yourself – total success! Frozen solid. Is anyone surprised? Nah, me either.

Next up for me: Nobel Prize for Science.

Saturday, January 17, 2009 8:30pm

Sunday, January 18, 2009 1:30pm

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Paxil, please

It’s official – I have the winter blues. This is evidenced by my uncontrollable alligator tears and lack of energy to do anything, including leaving my apartment. In an effort to process, I’ve determined this momentary show of emotion could potentially be due to a few things:

1) I started suffering from an acute sinus infection last Saturday, was officially diagnosed on Wednesday and have been taking 3 different brick-sized pills a day since then. I have essentially been in a drug-induced haze for 3 days. Yes, clouds have filled my head and I can hardly think.

2) Toronto is in the middle of a weeklong arctic blast. My cracked, ashen flesh is showing serious signs of cellular degeneration. Today, I triple-wrapped myself in North Face, gave myself an impromptu latte-steam facial and almost sawed off my gangrene-plauged limbs in desperation. Combine the sinus infection with the face blistering extreme temps and you have a recipe for disaster. I have not ventured outside in 3 days. Now I see why Jack Nicholson went nuts in “The Shining”. My mouth was so dry when I woke up this morning, despite my industrial-strength humidifier, that it felt like someone had shoved in 87 bales of cotton. I could hardly swallow and had to moisten up my hole with a Catholic-family sized gallon of water. Even the birds are looking for a warm place to park their feathers (see photo below).

Please God – make it stop.

Proof of the cold (it’s on TV, so it must be true)

The poor birds

The frozen wasteland

Me trying to stay warm (note the red, chapped visage)

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Time to Take Your Laptops Off "Simmer"

Hi folks,
You may have noticed that I’ve been on a self-imposed hiatus and haven’t posted anything in a while. Well, fret no more – I’m here to apologize and make nice. I’ve actually been super busy collecting experiences to write about…I just haven’t actually taken the time to write them down! For those of you still with me, I have two spankin’ new posts for your perusal. Enjoy!

For those of you who have been in hibernation with me, Welcome Back!

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I went tobogganing today for the first time in my life. I guess the saying “better late than never” is apt in this scenario. My friend Chris and his wife invited me to their home for an early breakfast (homemade pancakes! smoothies!) – the perfect breakfast for a very chilly day. It was -20C when I left my house this morning. Not quite the balmy day. As an aside, I really enjoy T.O. on Sunday mornings. The city is quiet and I feel like I can explore without being in my usual iPod-wearing bubble, trying to drown out the constant whirs and whines of a big city.

Chris, his little girl and I made it out to the Winthrow Park “baby hill” around 10:30am. While the hill is considered small by T.O. standards, I was more than a little nervous once I climbed to the top of the hill. Even though there were 4 years olds flying down the hill like Canadian geese in flight south for winter, I had nervous little butterflies in my tummy! Chris and his daughter went down first as I got my “feet wet” and nerves up. Up next – the Texan – and in my best Texas accent asked “now how do I do this exactly?” The stares from the regulars were intense! The three of us went down together and it was exactly what I’d hoped it would be – super fun! Because the snow was fluffy and powdery, we all got face fulls of snow on the way down. Chris’s daughter was none too happy about it and thus ended her trips down the hill. I, however, was like a kid in a candy store and went down a few more times on my own. I even caught air on a big bump! Sweet. We made snow angels and threw snowballs, and then packed it in and headed home.

Later that same day, I got ready to go to the annual Toronto Maple Leafs “Have a Heart” dinner. The Leafs players serve the attendees at different stations around the venue – in this case, the Boiler House at the Distillery District – and raise money for their Leafs 4 Kids charity. My friend Carolyn came with me and had a drink at Pure Spirits beforehand (note to self: must try this place again soon – good vibe and what smelled like good food).
Afterwards, we headed over to the Boiler House and were conveniently too late to purcahse a “mystery bag”, although we later found out that they were basically selling old and outdated TML merch. Bogus! We had dinner after introductions served to us by all the Leafs VIP’s – Coach, GM, and players. Overall, it was a way cool event complete with a TML BBQ set and Players cookbook as the party swag…sweet!

Me with Tomas Kaberle

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Can Someone Please Close the Freezer Door?

It’s -28C outside today. Granted, that’s with the windchill, but does it really matter whether it’s -19C legitimately or -28C with the wind? I think not. T.O. has become a snow-choked frozen wasteland unfit for man or vehicle. Note to self: buy long johns and a timeshare in Antigua.

Looking out my window – at 2pm

Read more about the freezer that has become Toronto here.

But I digress. I am under the weather, diagnosed by my doc-in-a-box as having an “acute sinus infection” and not “walking pneumonia” as I had concluded by surfing I am supposed to be resting and not working but, alas, work must go on and I am doing my best to keep up with the plethora of quasi-unimportant emails (imo!). Basically, I’ve been slathering myself up with my newly purchased jar of Vaseline (does that turn anyone else on besides me?), trying to keep my ever-reddening nose somewhat puppy-dog moist, sucking down Halls mentholatum and wrapping myself in a warm blanket cocoon. Maybe I should get one of these monk-like garbs?

I’m not used to sitting at home all day and around 4pm today, I started to get a serious case of cabin fever. I was also starting to feel achy and since am living here alone, must self-medicate and self-serve; as such, I ventured outside to Shoppers Drug Mart to buy a thermometer so as to properly monitor my (again self-diagnosed) oncoming fever. As soon as I stepped outside, the cold took my breath away. It was *bitterly* cold. When I breathed in, my nose actually froze together. Froze *together*, people! It felt like someone opened the freezer door and amped it up x 100. As a born and raised Southern girl, I was ill prepared for it. Still, I perservered and trudged up to the drugstore. The city seemed oddly quiet and I don’t know if that’s because it was so bloody cold outside that people were smartly staying indoors or because I had on about 8 layers of scarves, earmufs and hats wrapped around my already inflamed head. I perused the aisles, picked up the necessary “sick people foods” (Chicken noodle soup! Saltines! Catholic family-sized jug of Tropicana!), a $14.49 digital thermometer and headed home. I force fed the soup, fresh fruit and OJ and continued enjoying my overly humidified apartment while blissfully watching the all-day CSI marathon on Spike TV. Can life can’t get any better?

*New Feature Alert*
So, I am attempting to add a new bit to my blog whereby I document some of the current music I’m digging. Will do my best to post as many Canadian artists as possible in homage to my adopted country. Without further ado…..

Currently listening to (artist/song title):

Hooded Fang/Land of Giants
PPP/Lovers and Haters
Invasions/Atalantic Boulevard
Oh No Forest Fires/It’s Not Fun and Games Until Someone Loses
Hooded Fang/Fall Leaves

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