Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well, it's been a complete year of doing a new thing every day. Expect a wrap up in the next couple of days.

Today I followed different New Year's traditions. (I believe I stole this idea from Sydney originally).

I ate cabbage, which are meant to resemble money and bring fortune in Denmark and the southern U.S.

I ate pork, which is another symbol of prosperity (in Austria, Germany, Portugal & Spain).

(The pork & cabbage were combined in cabbage rolls.)

I also ate 12 grapes, which again is to ensure future prosperity.

It's interesting that most of the traditions involve prosperity. I would think there would be more things that might be important in the new year.

Now I'm off to do something that's not really a tradition - I'm going to bed long before midnight. (I have to leave for the airport at 4:30 a.m. & I'm really tired.)

Happy New Year, all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Packing to go home

I head home early on New Year's Day. (Actually, very early on New Year's Day - apparently I need to be at the airport at 5 a.m.). Today I did something I've been threatening to do for almost 5 years - I packed my niece in my suitcase. She thought it was a big joke, but I did have to promise that I wouldn't actually take her back to Ottawa with me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A sew-sew day

(Edited to add the picture.)

Today I visited my uncle. He recently got married, and as part of the cleanup/merge of the two households, they found an old sewing machine.

Today I played with an old hand-crank sewing machine. It is powered only by your right hand turning a crank. It doesn't use bobbins - instead it uses a spindle. I didn't realize sewing machines like that existed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Today we got together with some relatives I hadn't yet seen this trip. We met at my cousin Nancy's, and I met her son Gregory. He is 7 months old, and is getting close to crawling (but currently only spins in a circle). I had not seen some of the other kids in a couple of years. Oddly, they are all getting bigger. I am a little confused as to why that keeps happening.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Make believe

When I was a kid, one of my favourite shows was Mr. Dressup. It's a Canadian show, and the star (Mr. Dressup, actually) had a trunk of costumes for acting out different things. He also was big on drawing and crafts. He used to make trees and hats out of newspaper.

Today I made trees and hats out of newspaper.

It was harder than it looked, and I had to look up instructions for the hats. The first hat I made was too big for my niece. The second was too small. You'd think the third would be just right, but you would be wrong - it was (apparently) a little too big.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Not really a Christmas tradition

Today my mom & I made fish & chips. This is something I rarely make - probably less than once a year, and always at my mom's place. Today I also made onion rings. Lately I have developed a love for onion rings, and the ones I made were very tasty.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Breaking the camel's back

The afternoon of Christmas day tends to mean that my family sits around and plays games. This year two people got new games for Christmas, so I played Straw and Wizard. Wizard is a game where you predict how many tricks you will take and gain or lose points based on how accurate you were. Straw is a game where you add cards (with different weights) to a camel's back. If you go over the limit, his back breaks and you add up points.

Both were entertaining (and compact, thus easy to carry).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


In my family, we open our gifts Christmas eve. It has evolved so that we go over to my aunt & uncle's place for supper, then open our gifts.

We were there before supper today, so I got a chance to play their wii. I tried the golf, the boxing, and the bowling. It took a while to get the hang of it, but it was fun. The boxing was excellent, but I didn't play for too long as it was too much of a workout for the circumstances.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hanging out with my niece

We finally arrived around 10 (local time) last night.

Today my mom & I went to the spa. (Her birthday is just before Christmas, so this is her usual birthday present.)

After that, I took my niece shopping for her mom's Christmas gift. I have to say, she has good taste for a 4 year old.

I also got to put her to bed tonight, so I flossed someone else's teeth. Luckily, she's quite patient.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bubble breaker

Today is another day I'm spending in airports. My first flight tried to leave 30 minutes late, but they couldn't get the gate detached from the plane, so it actually left 1.5 hours late.

Flights throughout the country are a mess. Halifax airport was closed, and flights were getting cancelled. There were people in Ottawa airport lying on blankets on the floor. (I don't know where they were trying to go). I'm in Winnipeg, and when we got here we waited for 30 minutes before a gate was available. (Luckily I had 4 hours between flights, because by the time we got off the plane it was only 2 hours - but, of course, my next flight was delayed 45 minutes.) I don't think there are any flights on the departures board that are not delayed. It's a mess.

However, as a result of the chaos, I had a lot of time, so I played bubble breaker on my sister's cell phone. It's an entertaining game. Sadly, her battery is now dead.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I can't believe we ever looked like that

I mentioned a while ago that I bought a hard drive DVD recorder. As a result, my VCR has been moved to the basement. It's not actually set up down there, and one of the things I always intended to do was to copy some old Christmas home videos from tape to a DVD.

Today I hooked my VCR up to the DVD recorder and transferred some old home movies. First I transferred the movies to the hard drive. Some of them are very choppy and hard to watch, but they also have what is probably the last picture of my grandma. Also, there is a clip of my grandpa singing O Christmas Tree in German. His parents immigrated from Germany, but the year my grandmother died (when he was 77) was the first time I remember him speaking German. My sister would sing O Tannenbaum, and he would then sing the next line in German.

Once the movies were on the hard drive, I set up a dubbing list and started transferring them to a DVD.

The problem with doing it this way is that you have to play the whole thing a second time to transfer it to a DVD.

It is not done transferring yet, but hopefully it will finish before I fall asleep.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chesnuts roasting on an open fire

Today was fun. I got together with friends for lunch at the Elgin St. Diner. Afterwards, we wandered through the Rideau Centre, which is the main mall downtown. It wasn't all that busy, considering that it's the weekend before Christmas. I suspect that the bus strike is the cause.

However, that's not the only new thing I did today.

Yesterday I was short of ideas so I was reading through Sydney's archives. As a result, I realized that people actually roast chesnuts over a fire. (It's not just the song.) The grocery was selling chesnuts today, so I roasted chesnuts over an open fire. I was expecting them to split or something. Instead, they basically burnt - they looked like coals. The shells then got very soft, so that you could actually peel them. The nut itself was soft and chewy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

Today I made a snowman snowflake. This gave me the opportunity to realize I have no idea how to make a snowflake in general. However, I eventually figured it out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's my name again?

This is another stolen idea - I think it was Kathy who did this months ago. Anyway, I spelled "Colette2008" with Spell with flickr

Alphabet Block c o-sf3 L E25 T T e grave 2 DSCN5654 Wood Type 0 8

It's really easy to change the selected picture - but not easy to change back.

As an added bonus, here's my answers to a meme from Crystal. It's not my personal list, and it's heavy on places in the U.S. and Europe, but still interesting.

Things I've done in my life (in bold):
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - it was closed when I was there
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - I've been to France, but did not see the Mona Lisa
20. Slept on an overnight train - Nope, but I've slept on planes and ferries.
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - Technically no, but I've felt sick and miraculously gotten better once I called in.
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice - I've seen them, but was too cheap to ride in one.
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run - Clearly the person who created this has never seen me play softball/baseball
32. Been on a cruise - Mediterranean cruise, 2005. I'd highly recommend it
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors - Ireland 2004, Germany 2008
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person - Yup. It is surrounded by buildings, which was a surprise.
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa - Three times - twice to Botswana, once to Tunisia (for 4 hours - see #32)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person - Yup. It's not really impressive because by the time you get there, you've spent 2 hours going through the museums, which are incredible
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - Yup. I have pictures taken from the top where you can see the shadow
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies - Girl Guide cookies, actually
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - only twice, and I fainted the first time
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - I don't remember having a specific favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job - I've been laid off, but not fired
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone - my arm when I was 11 or 12 - and probably a toe & a kneecap as an adult, but I didn't bother going to the doctor (although if I'd realized I'd hurt my knee as badly as I did, I probably would have)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper - possibly when I was a kid?
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee - I've been stung by a wasp, but not a bee
100. Rode an elephant

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Work those lats

Only 2 working days left for 2008. I can't wait. Since we're closed as of the end of day Friday, and it keeps snowing, and there's a transit strike that makes traffic very slow, fewer and fewer people are showing up at the office every day. I might work from home on Friday if no one is around.

However, none of that has anything to do with my new thing for today. This is one of those things that I could have done anytime, but didn't .

I've talked about going to the gym before. Most of the time I go for specific classes - it has been over a year since I went simply to work out on the machines. The gym I go to has treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes. It also has a strength training circuit with a bunch of machines. I've used most of those machines in the past, but there's one that has always intimidated me - the lat pulldown station. It consists of a bench you sit on, along with handles above your head (attached to weights) that you pull down.

Today I tried the lat pulldown machine. As is typical of things like that, it wasn't nearly as scary or difficult as I had built it up to be in my mind.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Feeding via pressing a button

(Edited to correct the number of days left. For some reason, I thought it was Dec. 14 all day yesterday. It was not. )

You'd think that since I have only 15 days left, I'd be doing big things these days. However, today was not that kind of day. Instead, I borrowed an idea from Jen S. and donated a meal via Cascade Feeds America.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Today I made yogurt cheese.

You start with natural yogurt (with no setting agents like gelatin). You line a strainer with cheesecloth, put it over a container, and put the yogurt in the strainer, cover the yogurt with plastic wrap (or, in my case, a plastic bag), and then put it in the fridge for several hours.

The yogurt becomes concentrated. You can then use it instead of sour cream in dips, etc.
I inadvertantly bought vanilla yogurt instead of plain, so I ended up with really thick yogurt. It was very enjoyable.

I was amazed - I got almost a soup bowl full of liquid out of one container of yogurt.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Today I made pizza dough in the bread machine. I rarely make homemade pizza. (I think it has been over 10 years since the last time), but that was what I decided to make today. Since I knew I was going to be out until 3 or so, so putting the dough in the bread machine seemed like the thing to do. It worked well, and the pizza was tasty.

I also played a new game. I do not recall the name of the game, but it involved creating pathways for the tokens to move on. You were out when your token got maneuvered off the board. It was fun, and a good game to play with a group of people.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let them eat cake

My first new thing for today was a new thing I had been holding in reserve, as it was something I would be able to do if, for example, I was really sick & couldn't do much. I rented a movie* via my digital cable box. I rarely rent movies, but this is definitely the way to do it - I don't mind going out to get the movie, but I hate going out to return it.

The second new thing is something I saw on Krstlchik's blog about a month ago - I made cake pops. Well, technically I did not make pops - I made cake balls. (I decided I didn't care enough to buy the popsicle sticks.)

The first step is destroying the cake. My sister was traumatized by me picking up the cake and tearing it apart.

Next you add the icing, then you make balls.

After that, it's time to put them in the freezer & wait for them to solidify a bit. (This probably wasn't as necessary a step as it would be if you put the popsicle sticks into the ball.)

After they are out of the freezer, you then dip them in chocolate. (My sister did a lot of the work for this part.)

I then decorated them, and they were done.

They took a lot of chocolate, so we had to eat some plain. (It was not really a sacrifice.)

* Elf. It was funny, and better than I expected

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feeling elite

Going to Africa twice in one year gets you a lot of frequent flier miles. In fact, I have enough miles to have elite status next year. As a result, today I chose rewards based on the number of frequent flier miles I have. I chose the upgrades & companion lounge access. Now I just need to go somewhere on a star alliance carrier next year.

In completely unrelated news, the gym I went to today recently got a massage chair. It is extremely enjoyable (although I am not sure why it is necessary in a gym).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nice & warm

Today I took a shower while fully clothed. (A few other thing-a-dayers have done something similar, so this is anotyher stolen idea.)

It was interesting - I was in my boxing clothes. It was actually quite nice - the clothes collected the water and kept me nice and toasty warm.

The hardest part was carrying the wet clothes downstairs to the laundry room. My arms were tired from boxing, and the clothes were heavy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tied up in knots

Today I learned different ways to tie a tie. I tried the windsor, the half windsor, the pratt, and the four in hand. The hardest one was the half windsor. (Not coincidentally, that's the one I didn't take a picture of.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Today I requested a copy of my credit report. I actually requested it from 2 different agencies - equifax and transunion.

I could have gotten it online, but that costs money, so instead I went for the free option and mailed it in. I should get it in a week or two.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wrapping it up

No, this isn't another pre-Christmas post. Instead, today I wore hand wraps to body combat. It was weird - I wore my old boxing hand wraps. They are shorter and thicker than my new ones. (My new ones are stretchy, and very compact). At the beginning of the class, I was constantly distracted by the feel of the wraps. However, I adjusted and the class went well.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Today I made Christmas spiders. They are very cute.

It is hard to tell from the pictures, but the legs are a combination of long beads and seed beads. The body is one large bead, and the head is a medium size bead.

I do not plan to quit my day job - I ended up needing 10 leg pieces (instead of 8) and three body wires (instead of 2) for the 2 spiders.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I put the Christmas tree up last week. The Christmas music has been in my car all week. I spent yesterday afternoon wanting to leave work for no particular reason.

Today I made spiced nuts. They were easy to make and quite tasty.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Today I made a list of things that you may not know about me.

  1. I have 4 younger sisters.
  2. two of my sisters have started thing-a-day blogs since I started. (Both are more about things they like/appreciate than things they are doing.)
  3. I moved to Ottawa after university because this is where I got a job.
  4. I went to an all-girls high school for grades 9 & 12.
  5. I've travelled to England, Ireland, the U.S., Germany, South Africa, Botswana, Italy, Tunisia, Malta, and Spain on my current passport, some of them more than once. On my previous passport, I only went on one trip - to England and France.
  6. I like baking but hate cooking. Unfortunately, cooking is a more important life skill.
  7. When I was 25, I received my Duke of Edinburgh Award from Prince Edward.
  8. I'm currently into boxing. Other classes I have previously taken as an adult include pottery, Irish dancing, belly dancing, Italian for travellers, home maintenance and repair, ballroom dancing, yoga, and cross country skiing. There are probably more.
  9. When I was 12, I broke my arm by falling off a horse (and landing on a fence). My arm was not visibly broken, and my aunt was more concerned about the fact that my ear was bleeding. (The ear never hurt, probably because my arm hurt too much.)
  10. Both my elementary school and my high school closed the year I graduated.
  11. I've done several backpacking trips and several canoe trips. Canoe trips are more enjoyable.
  12. If you give me 10 things to do, I will get 9 done. If you give me one thing to do, it will never get done.
  13. The summer before my grandmother died, I spent a couple of weeks helping her paint and shampoo the rugs. I had trouble keeping up. (She was 75, I was 22.)
  14. I'm most productive in the afternoon.
  15. Every couple of months, I have lunch with some co-workers I last worked with in 2004.
  16. I'm currently a leader with Sparks (5-6 year olds). In the past, I have been a leader for Guides (9-12 year olds) and Pathfinders (12-15 year olds).
  17. I have 2 friends in Ottawa who were part of the same high school graduating class as me. The high school we graduated from was in Regina, Saskatchewan.
  18. I'm an introvert, and I try not to make plans for Sundays so that I have the day to relax and recharge.
  19. I've always been away from home for Christmas.
  20. I've seen a dog climb a tree (and not a small dog). When I was a kid, my cousin climbed up a tree and my grandparent's dog climbed up after her.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


It's Thursday, and I went to body flow after work. That gave me the opportunity to do an exercise class without wearing my glasses. It was fine - I'm not blind enough for it to be a big issue, but I do tend to get a headache when I don't wear my glasses.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This is when you should roll your eyes

This is going to be a political rant, so feel free to look away now. As in previous rants, I'm not going to fact check - that ruins a good rant - so what you're getting is my perception of what is going on.

The democratically elected head of Canada is the Prime Minister. The official head of state of Canada is the Queen's representative, the Governor General. She (officially) appoints the Prime Minister and, alternatively, dissolves parliament, which triggers an election. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the party who received the most seats in the last election. Right now, that is Stephen Harper, who is the leader of the Conservative party.

Since there are many political parties (and it is possible to run as an independant), it is possible that there are more members of parliament in the official opposition and the other opposition parties than there are in the governing party. That's where we are right now - the Conservatives are a minority government.

This is important, because in Canada it is rare for an MP to vote against his or her party's official stand.

In a minority government, if the government loses a vote on an issue considered to be a confidence issue, they can no longer govern. (Budgets are always confidence votes.)

Canada's last federal election was October 14. That was just over 6 weeks ago. Harper was the leader of a minority government before the election, and after the election became the leader of a stronger (but still minority) government.

The other players:
Stephane Dion - leader of the liberal party (i.e. the official opposition) - he was the leader when they lost a lot of seats in the last election, and is has resigned as leader effective some time next year

Gilles Duceppe - leader of the Bloc Quebecois, which is a political party in Quebec dedicated to getting Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada

Jack Layton - leader of the New Democratic party

The political parties get funding based on the percentage of the popular vote they got in the last election.

Basically, here's what happened.

Harper saw an opportunity, and in the name of saving money, proposed to cut the funding to political parties. This would be devastating to the other parties - in particular the liberals.

The other leaders got upset, and started talking about causing Harper to lose a confidence vote. They then plan to go to the Governor General and ask her to let them rule in a coalition.

Did I mention that it has been 6 weeks since the last election?

And that her choices (after the confidence vote) would be to either let them rule in a coalition or call another election?


Anyway, this is a long and rambling way of saying that today I watched the Prime Minister make a televised speech instead of watching the Simpsons.

The political stuff was probably funnier, because:
- Harper's speech was shorter than expected (and didn't contain the concessions some were expecting),
- The network was waiting for a tape from Dion (which never arrived),
- Layton wanted to make a speech, and was complaining that he didn't get the same amount of air time as Harper and Dion

So to sum up:
- the new government is in trouble (and the Conservatives are running around in a panic),
- the leader of the coalition couldn't get his act together enough to provide the networks with a video tape for a national broadcast,
- the coalition contains a political party who's reason for existing is to break up the country, and
- the members of the coalition are already bickering

I think we should send them all to their rooms until they can come out and play nice.

Seriously, this is pathetic.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More about pierogies

You may recall that I bought pierogies on Saturday. Today I finally tried the meat pierogies. They were good. Whoever made them used a nice blend of spices. (I think I still prefer cheese pierogies.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cleaning up

Today I "borrowed" an idea from someone - I think it was Kathy - and microwaved a bar of soap. I used an old bar of soap that was almost gone, but hard to use due to a non-soap layer on part of the bar.
It started foaming up, but stopped when I opened a door to take a picture. (The soap was black with yellow and green, so it did not change colour.)
The kitchen still smells like the soap.