Beauty in the Ordinary

This is not about being brilliant, or extraordinary, it's not about wanting to be famous, or making headlines, or trying to impress...this about sharing a 'gift' each day with the lift the spirit of people when they read this blog, to show them the beauty in the ordinary.
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." Raold Dahl

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Beautiful Winter's Day

I defy anyone, yes even you Cro,
not to love Winter on a day like today

the sky couldn't have been any more blue if it tried...

the clouds were fluffy and the wind still...

the swan danced on the sparkly lake along with all the other pretty birds...

this is exactly the spot where the lake

meets the river...

and the snow makes the water sparkle.

on up along the parkway 

passed my favourite bench...

where I spotted this little squirrel having a nap in the tree...

even this pretty wood pigeon sat still long enough for me to take its picture...

I swear even the cottages were smiling today...

This was a day when the world put on her finest white coat, and her best blue hat, and said
"Look at me".

...and winter came...

We had a wee snowstorm last night.

Outside looks a lot like the photos above.
These pictures are not mine, they are from
Go and have a look, she takes beautiful photographs.

Today, I think I will bundle up and take some snow-shots of my own.

this picture - mine!

...half-way there...softly, softly catchee monkey

Saturday, January 28, 2012


This past week I had to have a minor surgery at a local hospital.
My appointment was for 11.15 am and written instruction given me by the surgeon included to arrive 30 minutes prior to the appointment.   Me and about thirty others were herded into a waiting room on the fourth floor of this ancient building with no instructions other than writing on a chalkboard on the wall outside this waiting room stating our surgeon was present that day.  As people often do when confused and some in pain, a collective camaraderie broke out and we started to compare appointment times.   It became readily apparent this surgeon was running very, very late.  Eventually a very pleasant lady with an efficient looking clipboard arrived and called three names - none of which was mine.  And so the waiting began.  All gathered looked up eagerly each time we heard footfall in the hallway, hoping for the return of the pleasant lady with our name on the top of her list.  Eventually my turn came around and I was ushered into what appeared to be the hallway of an area that must have been an operating theatre at some point.  Huge, leather chairs had been set up, one behind the other, against one wall.  I sat in the second of these chairs, feeling like a child playing trains and was instructed to sign a consent form, ticking off boxes that promised I had been instructed about the 'dangers and severity' of the procedure I was about to enter into.  Next step was to move up to the recently-vacated front chair from which I could see those who had gone before me lying on what looked like old-fashioned dentist chairs; one in each of the two, huge, empty rooms.  The doors to these rooms closed, but I could see the doctor, my surgeon, racing between the two operating rooms via a third connecting room.  My turn now, and the pleasant lady took me into one of the now vacant operating rooms and I sat on the freshly-papered, ancient dentist chair.  A third actor entered the play now in the form of yet another very pleasant lady who prepared the stage for our leading man.  She asked me if I had been waiting long...I could only smile.  The leading man then entered, masked, gloved, gowned and said not a word to me as he went about his business.  He did, however, have a very pleasant conversation with the second pleasant lady about a colleague who was retiring that day and for whom a party was being prepared in the lunch room.  I learned the menu for their lunch and the retiring-lady's length of tenure and generally well-regarded reputation.  The procedure was over in under ten minutes, and, stitches in, I was abruptly alone in this overly-lit, cold, vast room as our star dashed through the connecting door to the second operating room and his next patient.  Left alone, I scrambled off the dentist -chair,  fumbled with my coat and made my way back down the hall.  I was lucky enough to have a warm, smiling, familiar face greet me back in the cold, grey waiting room.  And yes, it was still full, and everyones' head still turned with eager eyes as they heard my footfall in the hallway, hopeful it was our first pleasant lady coming to fetch them for their interface with the exulted one.
Back home, safe, comfortable and sipping on a big mug of tea, I reflected on my experience.  It was more surreal than unpleasant.  Of course, I had the good fortune of not being worried, or sick, or in pain and was able to convince myself that all I truly needed that day were the surgeon's hands not his personality.  But I did wonder for the elderly lady who was ahead of me in line.  I could see the tremble of her hand, the laboured way she walked.  She too had a friendly face with her back in the waiting I hoped she was okay.

I'm betwixt and between today, confused if I should be outraged by this inefficient system, or eternally thankful I have one at all.  I think I am both. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Blog Love

As I gently wind my way towards two-years of blogging,
I reflect on what brought me here in the first place.

all the above images come from Zsa Zsa Bellagio.

This was the first blog I ever read, the first blog I fell in love with.

It existed in another incarnation, but no matter. 

She went away for a while, but came back more beautiful than ever.

This blog is a feast for the eyes.




Monday, January 23, 2012

Gong Xi Fat Choi

Wishing us all, Health and Prosperity in this Year of the Dragon

p.s. 45% of the way there!

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Heart is Achin'...

Good night Etta...
Sweet Dreams Darlin'


I'm speechless...

Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kick Ass Soup!

One thing I am fast learning on this weight-loss journey, is that Asian food is a wonderful source of good-tasting, nourishing dishes.  So far this past ten days I have made, Vietnamese Pho, Thai Khao Phat Gai and tonight's dinner is Thai-style Chicken Noodle Soup.

6 cups good-tasting chicken broth (add bones if you have leftover roast chicken or turkey) 90 calories
1-2 fresh chicken breasts or thighs, chopped into small pieces, 
OR 1-2 cups leftover roast chicken (or turkey) 550 calories for boneless/skinless chicken breast meat raw
1 stalk lemongrass., finely sliced and minced, 
OR 3 Tbsp. bottled or frozen prepared lemongrass
3-4 kaffir lime leaves, 
OR substitute 1 bay leaf
1 thumb-size piece galangal 
OR ginger, grated or sliced into thin strips 9 calories
1 large carrot, sliced 25 calories
several bunches baby bok choy, separated (or other added greens of your choice)  30 calories for 2 cups
1 red chili, minced, 
OR 1 tsp. chili sauce 
OR 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice 10 calories for 1 whole lime
2-3 Tbsp. fish sauce (to taste) 30 calories
1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut milk 50 calories
white or black pepper (to taste)
generous handful of fresh coriander
8-10 oz. dry flat Thai rice noodles, or other noodles of your choice  560 calories for 152 gr dry
optional: 1 tsp. sugar, to taste 16calories

800 calories for  10 c = 80 calories/cup without noodles


Bring a large pot of water to just under a boil and add the noodles. Remove from heat and allow noodles to soak 5-8 minutes, or until soft but still chewy ("al dente"). 
Drain and rinse briefly with cold water to keep from sticking.
Using a large soup pot, bring chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Add the fresh or roasted chicken, lemongrass, galangal or ginger, carrot, whole lime leaves (plus chicken or turkey bones, if available). Boil on high for 1 minute, then turn heat down to medium and cover with a lid. Allow soup to simmer for 5-6 more minutes, adding bok choy when chicken is nearly cooked.
While continuing to simmer the soup, add the chili, garlic, lime juice, plus 2 Tbsp. of the fish sauce. Stir well.
Turn heat down to minimum and add the coconut milk (add up to 1/3 cup for creamier soup). Stir to incorporate.
Taste-test the soup, adding more fish sauce until desired flavor/saltiness is reached (how much you will need depends on how salty your stock is). If it tastes too salty, add another squeeze or two of lime juice. Add more chili if not spicy enough, or more coconut milk if the soup is too spicy. If the soup is a little too sour for your taste, add 1-2 tsp. sugar (to balance out the lime juice).
To serve, place a generous mound of noodles in each bowl, then top with the hot soup. Finish with a final sprinkling of pepper and fresh coriander. 
Optional Vegetables: Other vegetables that can be added to this soup include broccoli, mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, celery, or spinach.

This is good!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy Face

20% of the way there.
(no time line)

Feeling in control.
(important to keep a positive perspective)

Certainly not deprived.
(when am I ever?)

This is working! Thank you to my darling girl.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Climate Change and Economic Downturn

I don't purport to understand the science of climate change in depth.  I do think that nature has it's own timetable and plan that is only marginally influenced by us meager humans.  
(See the effects of eruptions of Mt. St. Helen's 1980 and Mt. Pinatubo 1991.)

I am, however, thoroughly enjoying the difference each winter here in Niagara-on-the-lake is bringing.

December 2010 - January 2011

December 2011 - January 2012

Similarly, I don't completely understand all the economic doom and gloom that is being constantly reported.  Oh yes...I get the belt -tightening, and the unemployment...but then, in our little town of just 12,000 people, I see all the construction going on.

Ice wine festivities begin this weekend...I'm hoping the warmer temperatures hold!
(Howling winds and snow forecast for today!)

January  13...OOps...spoke too soon.  Major snowstorm came in today.
Not a lot left after reasonably mild temperatures, but the mercury is going down, down, down tonight!
It's going to be cuddle up by the fire, newspapers, coffee and staying home tomorrow!
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