Brunch /brənCH/

Weekends are divine, and brunch is my favourite time. I am soooo poetic! But, it’s true. I love brunch; I love planning brunch, I love prepping for brunch, I love having friends over for brunch, and I love eating brunch. And Sunday’s are my favourite day for brunch!

brunch collage

Last weekend, we had some of our amazing friends over (well, “technically”, as Mouks would say; all of our friends are amazing – seriously!) and these particular compadres we hadn’t seen in quite a while. Life gets busy, and with kids, activities, work and coordinating schedules, we seem to only ever have time for … you guessed it – BRUNCH!

I love trying out new dishes, and am thankful, that for the most part, everything just kind of magically ‘turns out’. At least in my head it does … and everyone seems to choke it all down with a polite smile and a degree of enthusiasm … so I forge ahead with delight!

depression glass bowl labeledPart of enjoying a tasty meal, is the art of setting the table. I like to putter and fuss, and believe that everything tastes even yummier, with a delightful presentation. For this particular brunch, I pulled out some of my favourite pieces. My Baba’s cherished green depression glass bowl housed a yummy fruit salad (I often speculate on how this beloved piece came into her possession), while my antique yellow and white napkins snuggly engulfed delicious bagels in a sweet little basket.

brunch table settingAnd no table setting is complete without added  height; so one of my many cake plates was layered with a coordinating red damask napkin with additional bagels gently laid on top. A secondary stand held a yummy homemade apple coffee cake, and a cute antique glass sugar pot with a lid, held some delectably delicious whipped creamcheese. I used a painted ceramic egg cup to host the capers and put it on a small rectangular glass plate with sliced red onions. To complete the look, everyone had a special ‘spreader’ at their place setting, lime rimmed crystal goblets for water, and red antique low stemmed juice glasses. I don’t segregate kids dishes from adult dishes. (I’m all about equal opportunity for breakage). Once Mouks hit the age of 3, we pretty much threw out the plastic cups and plates, and he went right to glassware and ceramic dishes. I think it makes everyone feel special, and particularly for nice occasions. In my head, I believe it instills a sense of confidence and the opportunity to act more grown up and “M” for mature. (I use this video game analogy to bribe Mouks into acting more mature, citing that he can start getting “M” rated games, when he can act like an older guy – hey! … whatever works – we gotta speak their lingo)! My mom (Bobs) did this whole dish deal for us as well … though I know I am certainly not scientific proof that it instills maturity, because I’m still a bit of a goofball AND a bull in a china shop!; but it sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?! And, in fairness to any youngen who’s eaten in Smackiland, they have not yet broken a dish or glass. Now, that’s impressive!

tulips in milk jugI did buy some lovely fresh tulips and put them in a butter coloured metal milk jug to coordinate with my vintage inspired creamy yellow dishes, meticulously placed on a faded red floral tablecloth reminiscent of a country garden. And… ahhhhhh… my ‘pre-spring’ brunch table was set!

I like to serve a menu with a variety of items everyone will enjoy. Here is a list of my latest offerings:

Bevvies:

  • Big D’s ‘Stand-Up’ Lattes. The name says it all… a load of rich, luxurious caffeine, smothered in frothy goodness, and so thick your spoon will stand up.
  • Juice d’orange.
  • San Pellagrino, with fresh lime wedges.

Cold Delights:

  • Flavourful fruit salad, consisting of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple and blueberries. Topped with maple infused whipped cream. Mmmm…. Mmmm… who doesn’t love just a little touch of maple syrup goodness?
  • Kettleman’s bagels (only THE best bagels in all of Ottawa); poppyseed, sesame and ‘everything’ selections.
  • Deli toppings: prosciutto ham (a.k.a. Moukie’s ‘special ham’), smoked salmon, with ultra thinly sliced red onions and capers.
  • Assorted cheese plate: stinky Rouy cheese, double cream Brie, and garlic Boursin, garnished with grape clusters and strawberries.
  • Whipped cream cheese. I find spreadable creamcheese, whipped with my hand blender makes it creamier for spreading with not a lot of fuss.
  • Delish berry jam.
  • Pads of butter.
  • Homemade apple coffee cake.  Stay tuned for this uber awesome recipe!

Warm Goodness:

  • M-mm-mmm maple sausages…. yummmm… sausages! Easy to throw in the oven on a cookie sheet, and voila!
  • Egg nests! Yeah… you heard me.. but these are different, there are no birds. My latest experiment…. I found a little recipe online, so gave it a whirl! Here’s the Smack-Attack version:

eggs in phyllo recipe

Please call ahead to book your Brunch reservation in Smackiland!

Now taking appointments….

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Friday(s)

TGIF blog banner2

I have always wished that every day could feel like Friday.  AhhhhhFridays.  A day, where you wake up with optimism; a keen new perspective on the day ahead and inner reflection on the week that is ending.  I’m deep like that.  Friday’s fly by quickly (making the rest of the week seem even longer!), people aren’t as serious (they’re sometimes even dog-gone pleasant!), and you know with a degree of certainty that you won’t have to hit the dreaded ‘snooze’ button five times on Saturday morning.  Oh, glorious Saturday!  You carry a sense of anticipation throughout the day for the never-ending possibility of what Friday night’s activities may entail; where you can do as little or as much as you would like.  Well, I can; everyone else must adhere to my delegated task list!

Mouks loves Friday’s because school’s out for the weekend, and it’s ‘Pizza Day’, where he can gorge himself with his favourite food.   (Because, seriously, what 10-year-old boy does not love a little ‘ZZA?!)   He is excited for a full night of hangin’ out, and staying up late – and he literally radiates with anticipation for his first buddy to arrive for what will be an ENTIRE marathon weekend of Lego and Wii.  Whereas I am carefully devising my ‘mental preparedness plan’, which includes when, where and how long, to nap.

When I asked the Big D, why Friday is his favourite day he replied with his usual philosophical wisdom (and witty chuckle; the one where he laughs at his own joke before he tells it),  “‘Cause it’s Friday”.  Ahhh yes…. profound.  What’s not to love?! 

Friday’s are Hopeful.  Optimistic.  Joyful.  And now, every day is Friday, in Smackiland.Friday for Blog

Exactly 363 days after our beloved Snor’eo passed away, many months of mourning and oceans full of tears later, we welcomed a new pooch in the ville to share all of our pent up puppy love with.  No shortage of a supply in our abode!

And, very fittingly, her name, is FRIDAY. (T.G.I.F!)

And now, every day, we are greeted as though we are the most awesome’est pack in the whole animal kingdom, with full body tail wags and slobbery kisses.

Friday’s Favourite Pastimes:  Hunting for duck stuffies, snorking the stuffing out of ducks stuffies, chewing rawhides (and duck stuffies), tearing apart boxes (ohhhh, and did I mention, duck stuffies?), begging for food, running, playing, hugging, sleeping, cuddling.  (And hogging the bed).

Date of Birth:  Some time mid-July 2012.  Six months and still growing.

Breed:  Catahoula / Mountain Cur Mix.  (Yup…. Gotta love ‘google’; apparently, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is the official dog for the State of Louisiana!)  – We lovingly call her our little Catahooligan! 

Place of Birth: Ashland, Kentucky (American born; Just like the Big D!)

Originally Rescued by:  AARF, Ashland Animal Rescue Fund in Kentucky
Ottawa Rescue AgencyCatahoula Rescue Inc. (Ontario) Ottawa

Heartfelt thanks and gratitude to:Friday, blog puppy pic

  • Those who first rescued this sweet little ‘pupper-do’.
  • Those who pulled her from the shelter and saw her potential.
  • Those who housed her, fed her, cared for her and gave her medical attention before she even made the trek to the Great White North.
  • Those who transported her and nurtured her during what was surely a very long journey.
  • Those who pulled the strings behind the scenes in Canada to bring her here knowing that eventually she would find her ‘pack’, and for continuing to  save the lives of countless other furry friends.  Gloria Baggs, the rumours are true; you are amazing!
  • Those who donated funds, food, supplies, time, effort into helping our little Friday, and all of her puppy pals.
  • Those who adopted from a rescue agency opening up a space for her to be saved.
  • Those who foster these sweet dogs with comfort, understanding and unconditional love, until they find their new families.  Trish McQuhae you TOTALLY rock!  And Diesel, you giant great dane puddy-tat, we have photo evidence of some Friday cuddles!
  • To all those countless others who understand that a rescued dog may actually be the one rescuing you.
  • And to our beloved dog Oreo… thank you for opening our hearts to how truly amazing life can be, when a ‘pupper-do’ becomes part of your family.

ben and friday blog polaroid

Me and Mary Jane

Today I met with my friend, Mary Jane.  I haven’t seen her in a really long time.  It was quite nice.  She is quite practical.  Cute in a mature kind of way.  A little flirty, and fun.  Today she made me feel great!!!  I felt taller, and slimmer and  it made me wonder why I don’t hang out with her more often.  She is quite the fashion icon, and everyone seems to know her.  In fairness, I have to be in the mood to chill with her, and feel a bit self-conscious unless I am wearing just the right ensemble with some fab accessories.  I guess it’s been about a year since we’ve hung out, and today we did a fair amount of walking around.  We tend to see each other mostly in the fall, when we are better able to find the time to spend together; particularly when the weather cools and the autumn leaves start to fall.  And then, we’re practically inseparable until  late spring.  I suppose you could classify her as a seasonal friend.  She was locked in my shoe cabinet until today, when I broke her out of retirement.

Yes, I, like many others, have a few Mary Janes stashed away.  And, I am quite fond of them all.  I always wondered how the name of these utterly fabulous shoes came to be, and here’s the scoop:

Many a moon ago, in 1902, (yeah…. that was a l-o-n-g time ago), there was a comic strip called ‘Buster Brown’.   He looks kind of girly in the comic above, but I guess for the time, that’s what all the young whipper snappers were wearing!  The story goes that Mary Jane was Buster Brown’s sweetheart/girlfriend/babe/hot tamale (coincidentally the same name as the creator’s daughter).  Apparently, a couple of years later, Richard Felton Outcault, licensed the use of his characters to a load of companies to advertise their wares.  The Brown Shoe Company, being one of the most famous of course.  So, both, Buster Browns and Mary-Janes gained in popularity, mostly due to some live skit that travelled across the country, where actors were hired and … yada…yada…yada – kind of interesting from a marketing point of view; very ingenious for the day.   I’m sure I must’ve had a pair of Mary Janes as a young girl (or that would’ve just been wrong, on many levels), but for some reason I have a very vivid memory of little Kevin Horner from elementary school, in his adorable lace up buster brown shoes.  Could the impact of his impressionable soles become the stepping stone for my shoe obsession?

These totally cute brown Mary-Janes I wore today, were must-haves for £5 when my Sistah and I were perusing through a ‘car boot’ sale in England a couple of summers ago.

“The future’s got a million roads for you to choose, But you’ll walk a little taller in some high heel shoes” – Hairspray
Ain’t that the truth! 

Doggy Days…

Once upon a time there was a beautiful hound dog named Oreo, that snored her way into our hearts. (a.k.a Roar’eo, Snor’eo, Big O).  When the Big D and I got our first apartment (after a brief stint in his bachelor pad;  yup, those were close quarters;  we MUST’VE been in love!), we saw an ad in the community paper for some puppies that had been abandoned in a knapsack on the side of a road; 2 had suffocated, but 10 survived.  (Yeah… I know… it breaks my heart, disturbs me, and makes me so sad and mad all at the same time.  We said all the same bad words, so don’t hold back on my account)!  Anger aside, we opted for a visit, and there was one itty bitty black and white pooch left, named Oreo, who was about 8 weeks old.  We went to see her, she sniffed us, gave us slobbery kisses and showed off by  ‘peeing on the potty paper’.  It was love…. we brought her home the day after Valentine’s 1997.  She immediately made herself at home, flopped down on a floor cushion and proceeded to saw some serious Z’s.  Even though she was only the size of a football, her snores echoed throughout the apartment (and down the block).

We took Snor’eo everywhere.  One year we packed up my little red Festiva (ya-ya-ya-ya!!!) and drove to PEI for a bit of October car camping.  Okay… so we didn’t put a lot of forethought into how cold it would ACTUALLY  be and “yowza!” it was c-h-i-l-l-y!  In our little 3 man tent, Snor’eo kept us warm and she loved to chew on freshly cut firewood and hang out by the campfire in the hopes that a few dropped marshmallows would roll her way.   We explored the island and had a great trip.

Confederation Bridge

I remember being terrified to drive over that crazy long Confederation bridge that connects PEI to New Brunswick.  So, there I sat, petrified, as the Big D calmly maneuvered the car onto the bridge for the trek back home…. and then, as the car was gently rocking back and forth in the wind, I noticed it.

It was quite faint at first, actually.  I gave the air a quick ‘sniff’, and then it increased in pungency, creeping its way from the back seat, engulfing the car with its wicked stench.  It was the overpowering smell of terror that had escaped from Snor’eo’s bottom side.   She must’ve ‘passed wind’ in fear, and the stench was even more ferocious than her bark!  So, in true smacki fashion I made up a wee song to ease her nerves and mine, which I sang until we reached the other side safely…

“Your bum’s as big as PEI… as PEI… as PEI”
“Your bum’s as big as PEI.. and it smells like ocean fish!”

Some days, like today, I get very melancholy, especially when I remember her fondly in her heyday. It’s been just over nine months, since she passed on to the big doggy bone heaven in the sky, and not a day goes by in our house that we don’t miss that big ball of burly love.

She died the week before Christmas, 2011;  just shy of fifteen years old. It shook us all, even though we knew the days we had with her were getting shorter.  On that fateful Saturday, she faithfully followed the Big D into work, hoping to get her share of pepperoni from the pizzeria next door, and maybe some extra crust, as she did on most days.  It was there, later that morning, that she had her last bite of roasted chicken, and took her final breath in the Big D’s arms.

We all miss her.  Mouks had a really hard time, especially for the first few months.  He was nine at the time, and would lay in bed on many nights, write her name in the air, and cry;  deep hearted sobs of loss in the darkness, over the dog he loved so much.  It is one thing to lose your beloved pet, and to have to cope with that loss.  It is another, to see your child in despair, as he mourns the loss of his cherished pooch, and to watch him struggle to try and comprehend what happens when one dies.

I remember crying (well, more like bawling, with gushing tears and wet boogers) to the Big D one night and saying that I didn’t want to get another dog (EVER), because I didn’t want to feel this overwhelming sense of loss again.  But now, 9 months later, I feel differently.  A void is still left in our little family from the place she held in our lives.  We all know that big ball of love can never really be replaced, but we are getting closer to the stage where we can imagine another exuberant hound dog becoming part of our clan.   NOT, that I’ve been scouring through all the Ottawa rescue sites on a frequent basis, searching for the right ronker to live with us in Smackiland, or anything like that….   But, secretly, in my heart, I know that Roar’eo would like us to save another furry soul and open our hearts to loving another pooch one day.