Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tuesdays with Morrie

I just finished Tuesdays with Morrie two nights ago and can't say enough good things about it. Thanks Laurie for the great recommendation. Reading it made me miss my days as a first-year undergrad student at St. Thomas University where I was encouraged to think and reflect on a daily basis on everyday things - something that really isn't encouraged in the same way at the more science-based university where I am now.

This book is made up of several small chapters where each focuses on a weekly (every Tuesday) conversation between the author and Morrie Schwartz - a sociology professor suffering from ALS. They talk about forgiveness, family, love, culture and eventually dealing with death. The book isn't exactly deep in terms of philosophy but a number of things that Morrie says in the book really made me think. In fact, when I read this book again, I think I'll keep a journal with me to jot down some of the things that he says that really speak to me.

At one point, the topic of conversation is the impact of culture on our happiness and satisfaction in life. It seems that lately (especially with the current economic situation) there is such a focus on money and how it makes us happy or unhappy with our lives. In the book, Morrie really stresses that its our culture that can make us feel insufficient and that we can reject that culture if we want our lives to be different... This definitely resonated with me, and its stayed on my mind lately... specifically, that we need to focus more on the things that matter in life. I know, I know... kind of cliche right, but surprisingly, even through the lens of dying, Tuesdays with Morrie was able to portray this message in a refreshing way! I'd definitely recommend it!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Additions to the Backyard

I took a trip to HomeSense today. I rarely go there, but when I do I almost always come home with a couple fun finds. Today's visit was fabulous because I found a great garden stool... something I've been wanting to get for quite some time.

Here it is in place between our two Muskoka chairs at the back of our yard.

While walking around I also spotted a little ceramic turtle which has since found a perfect spot in one of our gardens.

And I also picked up this guy on clearance. It has a holder inside for a tealight and a chain to allow it to be hung. For now though, its spot is in the middle of our patio table.

Then, just to round out this post... a picture of the puppy Izzy. No, I didn't get her at HomeSense... but she's still pretty awesome!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My other life...

In my other life as an academic I work part time as a Teaching Assistant Developer with the Center for Teaching Excellence at the university. Our group has a blog and it was my turn this week to contribute. If you want to check out my recent post on dealing with classroom disruptions you can check it out here. Make sure to leave a comment if you have any helpful tips for dealing with these issues!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Be Right Back...

School is kicking my butt right now so, posting is slow. Will return soon!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feeling Like an Undergrad

Today I've been working on a paper that is due for my very last required course for my Ph.D. Such a huge part of me is giving myself a pat on the back that I've gotten this far, but this other part of me is feeling just a little ashamed... why? Because today as I was working on the paper, I considered (at least twice) emailing the prof and asking how long she wants the paper to be... how she wants me structure some of the parts etc... Thinking these things makes me realize that while I've come so far in some respects, in other ways, I've haven't changed at all since my first couple of years as an undergrad.

I can only imagine myself in 15 years, writing a grant proposal, emailing NSERC saying "How long is this supposed to be... can I double-space it?"

** Hanging my head in shame **

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter with Evelyn ... and Guitar Hero :)

After my last post about all the food we had for Easter, I came out of my sugar-induced coma and went through some of the pics that we took of the family. The best and funniest photos came from the Guitar Hero session that we all took part in. Yep, that's right... all! The husband and his brother started the whole thing by pulling out the Wii and the guitars.

But, once my sister-in-law found out there was a Bon Jovi song on the list - she and her husband were totally in!

The best part though? After sharing lots of laughs watch my sister-in-law's attempts at strumming on beat, we convinced my father-in-law and mother-in-law to try it out. They didn't fare quit as well as those of us with more experience, but it was a hoot watching them!

The highlight of the day though was getting a chance to spend some time with the newest addition to the family - Evelyn Ruth! Here she is with her grand-parents...

Isn't she adorable?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!

My in-laws spent the day with us yesterday and we enjoyed a fabulous Easter meal (made mostly by my husband... but I like to think I helped). Between the seven of us we polished off a ham, enormous amounts of potatoes, vegetables, baked mac&cheese and a dozen rolls. Not to mention that a little later, I brought out the cake-pops and Lucas' mom reminded me that she'd brought dessert as well.

The cake-pops were certainly a hit! However, the veggie lovers in the crowd thought they were a tad sweet for their taste. But for a sugar-addict like me - I loved them. What put me over the sugar-coma edge was the addition of the lemon pie, the graham cracker pie, the lemon squares and the cherry cheesecake squares. I adore my in-laws, but when I suggested they bring dessert, I never expected 4 different desserts and 6-8 bags of candy :) Looks like I'll be hitting the treadmill tomorrow...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cake Pops!!!

I hopped on the band-wagon and made cake pops today! I followed Bakerella's instructions that I found here and here. While mine are much lumpier and bumpier than Bakerella's version, I've had much less practice.

Here's a run down of what I did.

Baked a cake in a 9x13 pan (I made lemon cake), cooled it and then crumbled it up finely.

Then I added a whole can of frosting and blended the cake and frosting together. Once it was well combined I formed the mixture into egg-shaped balls, covered them and put them in the freezer over night to harden. Btw, forming the eggs was kind of messy, the cake stuck to my hands and fingers a lot so I had to rinse my nasty hands off after every 6 eggs or so.

After the eggs were quite firm, I dipped each egg in melted chocolate. I used Wilton candy melts in white, yellow and pink.

This was the most difficult step and a couple eggs ended up having to be sacrificed due to my poor dipping skills! Oops!

Once everything was dipped, I went ahead and decorated my eggs. With a combination of corn syrup (which took forever to dry), the melted candy, sprinkles and writing fondant, here are the final products! I hope they taste as good as they look!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Newest Spring Project

Despite the crazy snow storm we got Tuesday, I'm thinking of Spring! So, last night I made a trip to Michael's to get a spring-y wreath for the front door. I browsed the ready-made wreaths and found a few that I liked, but they were quite pricey and I was convinced I could do something similar myself. Off I went to the floral section and I started picking up items that I liked.

I ended up with a plain grape vine wreath (only $5) and 3 bunches of white berry covered grass-y things (only 2.50 each). This morning I pulled out the glue gun, ribbon and scissors and got to work. After pulling apart the grassy-bunches, I made my way around the wreath gluing in sections of the grass every couple inches. I finished the wreath of with a home-made bow and a little egg that I had laying around the house. So, while I still spent $60 at Michael's I came home with not just a wreath but a bunch of scrap-booking supplies, some other flowers for around the house and the materials I need to make a sweet Easter treat... Not to shabby if I do say so myself :)

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Updates... Updates.... Read all about them...

Ok, so this blogging thing doesn't really come naturally to me. Just as I'm falling asleep at night, I think, "hmm... I should update my blog..." and then I don't really think about it again until that time the next night :) But, since we just got back from a conference in San Francisco where we took A LOT of pictures I figured this might be a good place to share them with family. Here is a highlight...

Also, since a couple people have been asking me how the reading is coming, I figure an update on that front is in order! I've been doing lots of reading this year but its been a bit slow over the last couple of weeks since the husband and I were away on vacation and I surprisingly didn't do much reading while we were there. I've read a couple of the recommended books but I've also tried out some others that I've been interested in reading.

So far this year I've read:
Down Came the Rain - by Brooke Sheilds
Confessions of a Shopaholic - by Sophie Kinsella
Chasing Harry Winston - Lauren Weisberger
Suzanne's Diary to Nicholas - by James Patterson
The Time Traveller's Wife - by Audrey Niffeneger
Remember Me? - by Sophie Kinsella
The Audacity of Hope - by Barack Obama

Over the next few days, I plan to write posts about each of these books. As you can tell from my ratings, my favorite so far was The Time Traveller's Wife but right now I am also reading Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and I also just checked out Divine by Karen Kingsbury so I think there is lots of good reading coming up in the next couple weeks! Stay Tuned... I'm sure I'll get the hang of blogging soon!

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