Friday, November 30, 2012

clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose

{the first shipment of gifts}

I am so not a good gift wrapper, but it is not for lack of trying. I love the pretty paper, I have really sharp scissors, I always find a flat surface. Try as I might I am just not a natural gift wrapper. Jeff has flown the coup to write his CFA (it was all a guise to hang out with his best friends from university I think) and I actually had the foresight to send his family's gifs with him. Isn't that organized and grown up of me? I can say that because it is very out of character and therefore not bragging (right?).

{figgy figgy}

I saw these pretty little trees at the market two weeks ago and decided one would be mine. I should say one would be my next victim. I have a horrible track record with house plants. So far so good for this pretty little plant. The salesman warned me the leaves may all fall off (hello traumatic), but happily that hasn't happened. Figs remind me of my sweet friend Jayme, we used to laugh when people said wine smelled like fresh figs -- they have no smell people!!

This is not a picture of my date nut spice loaf. When I woke up this morning Jeff had already wrapped mine in about sixteen feet of Saran Wrap. He wanted to take it to his parents this weekend. Such a sweet son! I promise mine looked every bit as good as this though ;)

The return of Ina's date nut spice loaf is a joyous occasion -- For all her "I-live-in-the-Hamptons;- my -husbands'-name-is-Jeffrey;-I-only-use-the-finest-vanilla-from-Madagascar-nonesense, I love Ina Garten. Her recipes work every time and my family always love what I make.

Happy Weekend dear friends. Mine will be full of marking, but that is somehow more palatable since it will be the last marking of my esteemed (!!) career as a TA.

Here are some fun links from around the interwebz:

I don't care what happens to my face, I love running

This really was not a good week for runners -- sheesh

I loved living with my parents and I would totally do it again. Great idea!

Good news for coffee drinkers -- bottoms up!

as an aside drink Puddle Jump Haligonians

Just when I thought Homeland had taken a turn for the unrealistic. This is frightening. 

No one has ever accused me of being badass, which is precisely why I need these boots

This must be a joke #fortheloveofgod



Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Have you watched the BBC show Miranda? It might be the funniest thing I have ever seen. No joke.

Friends introduced us to the series two Christmases ago and I now associate it with the holidays even though it is totally unrelated. We kind of forgot about it until a few nights ago. Boy am I glad we remembered this little gem. I am marking my final assignments ever this week (hallelujah) and needless to say Jeff has been busy, despite this we made time to watch a few episodes and we have both been in tears laughing.

Miranda is so refreshing. I don't know much about cinematic history (which probably doesn't include tv shows anyway), nor do I know much about different types of comedy, but this show seems to harken back to another era of television. The comedy is physical; "situational" is the way Jeff described it. It is funny without being shocking, offensive or crude (well, it is a little "naughty" at times). Miranda is the opposite of Chelsea Handler, and thank goodness for that!

Just watch it. You'll thank me.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the remains of the day

I've never seen that movie, I just like the title.

Only a few more days until the CFA releases my husband and Violet's daddy so he can hang out with us over the holidays. Even though he is busy (understatement), Jeff is so sweet reading to Violet here, helping me with things around the house there. I am so ready for this drawn out study session to be over, but Jeff has juggled work, family life and his preparations like a champ. Come what may I am very proud of him

Last weekend we slowly got out a few Christmas things including a big box of Christmas books. Violet is loving all things Christmas this year even more than last (and that is saying something). Very cute. I am digging the pace of our ramp up to the holidays. Normally I do everything in one crazy blur of a weekend. Drawing out the process is kind of nice (even if it is just because my heavy lifting/ high up reaching husband has been otherwise disposed!).



Sunday, November 25, 2012

your ideal bookshelf

{not my ideal bookshelf, but they are pretty which is really the point of having books}
A few days ago Joanna, writer of one of my favourite blogs, talked about a new book called My Ideal Bookshelf. I haven't read it, but I can't wait to. I love books like this. In the book the author surveyed various cultural figures about the contents of their bookshelves -- so interesting! Do you think people bluffed? Like, oh my bookshelf only houses the classics, when really it is all Fifty Shades of Grey up in there? I have a similar book on my coffee table that asks chefs what they would want for their last meal. I love reading it and I love thinking about my own answer to the question (note to self: write a blog about my preferred last meal).

Anyhow this post got me thinking, what books would be on my ideal bookshelf. I've been mulling that question over all weekend. I've come up with a list, but I reserve the right to change it at any point and on any whim. Here goes: The Corrections; Operating Instructions (Joanna has this on her list too, I read it while I was pregnant with Violet and absolutely fell in love with Anne Lamott, she has so much spunk); Persuasion; On Beauty; Anne of Green Gables; Mercy Among the Children and War and Peace (I've read it, for real I promise). I'm sure I am forgetting something...

Want to play?

What books would be on your ideal bookshelf?



ps -- I also love thinking about what books would be on other people's bookshelves. My mum for example, hers would have a strong Victorian contingent, a good dose of maritime lit (the more depressing the better), something by Flannery, Willa and Wendell and at least one No. 1 Ladies. Did it get that right mum?

Friday, November 23, 2012

clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose

This was the first week of my new job. It went well, thanks for asking. Jeff has been a champ juggling my new schedule while his own gets even busier with the count down on for his big exam. I've been taking the same route to work for the last eighteen months and even though I didn't really know any of the people I would pass everyday I kind of missed them this week. I wondered how my favourite crossing guard was doing (he always helped me cross, it is possible he thought I was in high school) and I wondered if the dog walkers in the park I passed through were still out in the cooler weather. I'm sure everyone is fine without me ;) In the spirit of embracing change here are a few things I am currently liking about my routine.

{all the pretty horses}
What am I, a ten year old? I've always liked these pretty creatures. There is a bar in Calgary that has the most beautiful photos of Sable Island horses, even though I have never been to Sable Island they always reminded me of home. These particular horses are near my parents house and they remind me of living there when Vi was a baby. My dad used to take her to see the horses early in the morning. I love thinking about both Vi and my dad on my walk to work.

{good great coffee}

TIBS within walking distance. Mothers lock up your daughters (read: Jeff lock up my debit card).

{holiday trim}

I like tinsel and I like coloured trees. Some people say tacky, I say festive. My mum and I set up a silver tree a few years ago and I love love loved it. Imagine my delight when I came across this super-sized red and gold beauty. All class.

And as an antidote to my gratitude:

I want to be Anne Lamott

I want to eat pumpkin squares (if they are half as good as the ones my sweet friend dropped off this week they will last a day -- hers lasted about twelve hours)

I want to wear this hat

I want to watch all of these before Christmas

I want to live here
Happy weekending friends!



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"participate in food production"

{this is the best I could do}

9. Grow something and eat it. Tomatoes maybe? Basil? Both? Mmmmmm caprese salad. (note to self: mould on cheese does not count)

One of my goals before I turn thirty was to eat something I grew. I once read an essay by Wendell Berry that encouraged the practice of growing at least a little of one’s own food. Like most Canadians I am normally only involved in the consumption part of the agriculture supply chain. As a result I think we run the risk of feeling artificially separated from the source of our food. Wendell Berry is way (WAY) more articulate on the subject so check out his essay for a more eloquent synopsis of my motivation for this particular goal.

Since I have no garden to speak of and the opposite of a green thumb I thought that caprese salad would be a good place to start. The plan was to grow basil and a few tomatoes, how hard could that be? As it turns out, pretty hard.

First my basil was eaten up by what I can only imagine were very hungry earwigs (way less cute than their caterpillar counterparts). Then my cherry tomatoes exploded as I waited for them to ripen perfectly (they actually exploded – for real). No tomatoes, no basil, no caprese.

I felt dejected for several months.

Then last week I revisited my list and surveyed my options. They were slim. I had some gnarly looking chives that I once saw my neighbours’ cat nibbling and some woody thyme. Then Nicholetta posted a recipe for roasted cauliflower soup on her blog – it called for one of my two viable ingredients – thyme (she didn’t specify that it should be woody, but I doubted it mattered much). 

So, there it is, roasted cauliflower and thyme soup. Something I grew myself.

I know it is a stretch.

Wendell Berry would be disgusted I am quite sure of it.

At least it is a start? Last year I grew nothing that I ate. Baby steps.

Next year I will try to up the ante and disqualify herbs from my challenge – what is the easiest thing in the world to grow? A potato? I was born on PEI…



Monday, November 19, 2012

Blog < CFA

Apparently when you have to write an exam for work you get the computer with the working keyboard

Or so says my husband

As you may recall the period on my keyboard doesn't work -- since there isn't much point in repairing a five year old macbook I've been pinching Jeff's to write my notes to you

Tonight he needed his computer

I was not impressed

He should really get his priorities in order, sheesh

I have a "to do before I am thirty" post all ready to go (in my head of course), but I simply can't write it without a period (of all the keys to malfunction the period may be the worst)

For now all I can offer you is a cute picture of a pyjama clad girl -- oh and a quick, cute, unpunctuated story -- Violet was saying grace before supper tonight and she said, "dear god, thanks for the food even though I know already that I will not like it"

Nothing if not honest

Supper was mediocre -- Violet has good instincts, I'll give her that

I promise I will steal my husband's computer tomorrow and write a proper post!

Until then,



Friday, November 16, 2012

clear hearts, full hearts, can't lose

{flowers in November}

I have the opposite of a green thumb. Imagine my delight when my outdoor flowers continue to bloom into November (can we call this late November?). Maybe this is totally normal in this part of the world, I've never really paid attention. All I know is that I like little white flowers more than little white snowflakes.

{Christmas Creep}
People react strongly to Christmas preparations in November; they fully embrace them or they disdain them. I've generally fancied December 1st the official date after which Christmas cheer is welcome, but since having Violet I feel extra excited around holidays. Christmas creep has officially begun (via Micheal Buble if you must know). I'm reading The Happiness Project for my book club and the author explains how anticipation is a big part of fun and fun is a big part of happiness. Why not start the fun now? (I draw the line at celebrating before Remembrance Day, it just feels wrong)

Note: picture from last Christmas, I'm not completely crazy!

It is such a delight watching Violet develop real friendships. I miss the days of hanging out with friends for hours. It is so much harder to develop those bonds with busy "grown-up" lives. I like living vicariously through Violet as she and her friends simply enjoy each other's company. It is also a reminder to me to pick up the phone and hang out with some of my lady-friends (or at least pick up the phone and chat!).

Have a great weekend!It will be another girlie weekend on Newton Avenue -- crunch time for sweet Mr. Pond. Only a few more weeks until we can all relax for the holidays!

Here are some fun links:

Only in the US; try to name Stephen Harper's kids...he has kids, right?

Venetians make floods look stylish (see photo 15) 

I finally watched this movie -- Suzy is the new Margot, I love it! 

It is getting colder -- time to fatten up! 

I'm terrible with make-up, but how pretty are these? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

ballerina pile-up

{so you think you can dance 2020}
Saturday was parents' day at Violet's dance class. Violet has been so good lately my heart sank when I heard parents were going to be invited to observe. I'm not sure you remember the last in-class performance Violet partook in, but I for one am still scarred. I braced myself for some serious regression in terms of Violet's confidence and independence. Jeff was working so I cautiously invited my mum to come with me, but I warned her Violet may end up in another hot puddle of tears. Being the world's best nana, my mum assured me she didn't mind.

But, guess what?

Violet was a dream. She didn't seem to care at all that people were watching the class -- not even the dad's intimated her as she wiggled down the magic sidewalk (that is an actual activity they showed us). I was so proud of her listening skills (where are those at home?), her enthusiasm and the joy she exuded as she trotted, jumped and wiggled around the room.

This is what I had in mind when I signed her up for dance. Success!

Who knows what will happen during her concert in June, and really, who cares? I am just so pleased she is having fun right now.

Here are a few pictures from her "performance", including my personal favourite, the ballerina pile-up.



{nervous at first}

{warm up}

{that is a happy girl}

{there is a lot of running}



{three: ballerina pile up!}

Monday, November 12, 2012

warm weather and head colds

{nothing like jumping into leaves, never mind the concrete!}
It was so nice out today. I really can't get over it. Vi and I were outside without jackets -- I actually was too hot in my sweater as I sipped my tea at the playground this afternoon. I was sipping tea because I have the worst of head colds. I can't breath, I have gone through two boxes of Kleenex (I admit I do not use it sparingly) and by the time evening rolls around I feel like my sinuses are going to explode through my face and fall onto whatever I am trying to read at the time -- not a great way to feel on a grading weekend. Damn you term papers.

We managed to have a lovely weekend despite being under the weather. We hung out with some of our favourite people and tried hard to connect with some others! When did three year olds get so busy? Violet definitely has a more lively social life than Jeff and I.

Speaking of Jeff's and my social life, we attempted a date night last night (it involved a burned copy of John Adams and a large box of Kleenex -- jealous?). Halfway through our first episode we were summoned by a pajama clad princess who wanted her mummy and daddy. Off to Bauer St. we went. As much as I wanted to relax with my main man I was touched Violet missed us. It was kind of sweet. Plus, at that point my head was reaching its breaking point and I ended up in bed shortly after the rescued princess nodded off.

What did you get up to this weekend? Were you able to play outside today? I sure hope so.



Friday, November 9, 2012

clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose

{kid logic}
If I can't see you, you can't see me -- right? Violet loves hiding from us these days. She also likes orchestrating the conversation around her hiding. "Mum, say 'where is Violet?, Where is my sweet girl?'" And I do. Game over? No such luck. "Mum, say it again. Say, where is that Violet? Did I leave her at Susie's?" And on it goes...

{turtle necks}
I know it is dorky, but I love me a fresh turtleneck once the weather gets colder. They get a bad wrap, but Audrey, Marilyn and Jackie all wore turtle necks.  Here are a few tips for wearing turtle necks in a non-dorky way (none of which I followed today!)

{Remembrance Day for kiddos}
How do you explain war to little kids? Not a fun conversation, but then again not everything is fun. Violet's amazing teacher did a couple of crafts with the kids this week: a dove for peace and a pretty painted poppy to help us remember. I love how she broached a dark subject and got the kids to think about how lucky we are to live in a peaceful country. It got me thinking too.

Bored? Check out these links:

Something for parents to keep in mind

I knew it!

mustaches aren't the only facial hair on the block this month 

I did not know this, but I bet Mark Harris did!

pretty (but pricey) cake stands 

a perfect Christmas dress -- fit for Betty Draper, no?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

baby it's cold outside

{chili for a chilly night}
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. The rainy walk to work didn't help my mood. I was cold all day and the scarf I wore didn't match my outfit so I hated having to wear it around my office (#firstworldproblems, I know, I know). And poor Jeffrey, he could do no right, dear man. At one point this morning before work when I was bickering with him Violet actually said to the two of us, "stop it guys, you are the grown-ups." Nothing like being told by a three year old. Sadly, she was right.

It rained on my walk home today too so I decided to make chili for supper to warm my family and I up, and ask for their forgiveness for my bad mood. I think it worked because Violet asked me to make chili at Christmas, which means it must be really special and Jeff gave me a big hug.

Hugs and chili, not a bad ending to a dreary day.


the recipe I used to make chili, which was quick, easy and yummy can be found here:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

guess what?

I got a job!

Wanna know the best part?

It is permanent -- as in we can make long terms plans (and yes I'm already all over MLS and baby name websites --  just don't tell Jeff ;)

When I told my sweet husband the good news the second thing he said was, "I can't wait to go to the dentist". We are crazy like that.

I am so excited! It is official, we are in Halifax for the long haul -- as if you ever believed I would leave!



ps -- I just hope I didn't get a new job the same week as Mitt Romney did....

Sunday, November 4, 2012

hard questions

Why is the question, "what are you good at" such a hard one to answer?

If someone asked me what my sister was good at, or what my best friend is good at I would have no problem answering. I could wax on about the virtues of those I love, but if I was asked to say what I think my own strengths or gifts are I wouldn't be able to answer with such certainty.

At church this morning we were asked to consider our gifts and how those may be a natural way to engage with our community. That makes sense to me. How much happier are you when you are doing something you love and when you are doing something you're good at?

But what if you can't pinpoint an area where you excel?

Don't get me wrong I don't think I am bad at everything, or that I have no talent or even that I have nothing to contribute but I still have a hard time answering the very straightforward question, "what are you good at?".

I've been thinking about this this afternoon and I think I know why I find it so hard. First, when I hear "what are you good at?" I think "what are you better than everyone else at" and the answer to that question for me, and for most people other than maybe Michelle Williams [best pixie cut] and Emily Dickinson [best use of the dash] is a resounding nothing. So if you happen to be even slightly competitive you may find yourself saying, I'm not the best in the world at "x" so I must not be very good. The examples I gave were extreme (who looks that pretty with short hair, seriously), but it is easy to compare ourselves to other people when we think about our own gifts -- not very helpful.

The second reason I think it is hard to say what you are good at is because it makes you vulnerable. What if I say I think my talent is baking, and you've tasted my cookies and you don't think they are that good? What if I say I think my talent is writing a blog and then you notice I really don't know how to use commas (which I actually don't -- those tricky buggers)? But if I don't say I think I am a gifted baker, or writer, or runner or whatever, then no one else can say "oh my gosh, Emily thinks she is so good and look at her mistakes/shortcomings/how much better I am than her." When I say this outloud it doesn't sound like something anyone I know would say, but those sort of worries have run through my head more than once. If I don't say it, no one can refute it?

Anyway, all of this to say I am trying to find my answer to the question, "what are you good at?" I don't think it is something I can figure out in one day. (If it was I would know my gift -- problem solving -- and as you and my grade nine math teacher know, that is not my speciality!)

So I guess I am going to ask for the confidence to know where my stengths lie and also that I might be the type of friend who helps other people see what they are good at.

That sounds nice on a chilly Sunday night.



ps -- here are some pictures from my weekend

{I love the French -- chocolate for breakfast}

{fuel for a man who does math all weekend}

{post work out high}

{three amigos -- just missing Wes}

Friday, November 2, 2012

clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose

Is it Friday already? This week felt at once really long and really short. More accurately the days felt long, but the week felt short -- funny how time works.

Here are a few things that are making me happy this week.

{sleeping babes}
Violet is decidedly a big girl, except for when she sleeps. I've swooned over my sleeping babe before and I'm sure I'll swoon again. She just looks so cozy and squeezable when she rests -- could be the fact she has yet to master the art of talking back in her sleep. Rest assured, if that is possible, she was accomplish (nay master) the art!

{a night out}
I have book club tonight. Not only I am excited to spend time with some lady friends, but there are no kids allowed. The event makes the list for that reason alone!

{family night fun night}

I love  traditions and I love pizza. Our weekly journey to the Hydrostone for the city's yummiest pizza is the highlight of my week and the best way to start the weekend. That is a fact.

Also, for your viewing pleasure:

Just in case you need another reason...

my back has been hurting from carrying a heavy messenger bag, backpacks often seem juvenile, but I'd use this one

I'm making this if it gets colder this weekend -- the yummiest leftovers

"being hungry makes me both murderous and suicidal" - I love Nigella

Thursday, November 1, 2012

halloween part deux

It was a wet and wild Halloween in Halifax (that somehow makes it sound like more fun than it was). Not that the night wasn't fun -- we had a blast, it was just a soggy costume, frizzy hair sort of night.

Violet was a cat by day, cupcake by night.

In other news my daughter consumed her body weight in mini-chocolate bars last night -- I blame the grandparents/ great aunties. To be honest Jeff and I ate quite a few too. I always forget how good regular old chocolate bars are until this time of year. Don't get me wrong, we eat chocolate, but it is more along the lines of Dairy Milk or Galaxy (not that those are fancy or anything, but they seem like a more grown up choice than a Mr Big). Jeff likes dark chocolate, but try as I might I can't get over the milky stuff. Despite this there is something grossly delicious about a Wonderbar or a Snickers -- so cloyingly sweet, yet undeniably scrumptious.

Needless to say there were lots of post-Halloween tears today. Sugar hangovers are the worst.

I hope you are nursing yours with fresh fruit and a new toothbrush. I've found both helpful myself!