Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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The Best Thing I Got

The best thing I got on my trip wasn’t even a Christmas present. It was something that my sister gave me when I first got here – my dad’s old French fry cutter.

My Dad's French Fry Cutter

My brother-in-common-law is renovating my mom’s basement and while they were clearing out the old stuff, my sister asked him to save this for me. Apparently, when they got it, it was so rusty that they didn’t think they could save it, but after a lot of hard work scrubbing off the rust, it was, in fact, salvageable. I’d actually been thinking about it just before I came here and I had been assuming that it would have been rusted beyond recognition and would have have been unceremoniously thrown out.

When she gave it to me, honestly, I nearly cried. Not just because I really wanted this French fry cutter, but because it showed that my sister knows me so well that she knew how much it meant to me.

This French fry cutter, which we think my dad got from a restaurant when it closed down, holds a lot of great memories of childhood for me. As you may or may not know, I love French fries. As you also may or may not know, my Dad made the best French fries in the entire world. He had this French fry cutter attached to his work bench in the basement – he’d skin and clean a potato, put it into the cutter, and bring down the handle, and it would slice the potato into the perfect size French fries.

Day 171

I have many a fond memory of the French fries my Dad would make1. At one point, he learned that the guy who ran the local chip wagon used peanut oil in his deep frier, so my dad got peanut oil and omg, those fries were delicious. Sometimes we’d have fries with grilled cheese sandwiches, where the grilled cheese sandwiches were made in the waffle iron. Sometimes we’d have French fry sandwiches, because there is nothing fries need more than to be stuffed between two slices of Wonder bread with Imperial margarine on them. And sometimes we’d just have a basket of fries, with vinegar and salt on them. But no matter how we ate them, I’d always be in heaven.

Thanks, Nancy and Jeff, for this most thoughtful and touching gift.

  1. I also have one scary memory – the time that my dad splashed burning hot oil out of the deep frier into his EYE! He has to wear an eye patch for a while after that while his eye healed. []

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Presents!

As we all know, the true meaning of Christmas is presents. And there sure were lots and lots of presents under the tree this morning! My niece and nephew got lots of nice toys – Madeline’s were dominated by Monster High dolls and Thomas’s included dinosaurs, trucks, and a few toys from Monsters University1. I gave a fair number of presents from Ireland – because Ireland.

As for me, I was spoiled, as always. Here are a few highlights:

A Christmas tree ornament with a picture of my niece and nephew:

Christmas ornament

This book about bears:

Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants

Not shown here: my mom gave me some money to buy two things on my Christmas list – money both because then I don’t have to worry about carrying these presents in my suitcase and because I need to pick the right size. First, a pannier for my bike (since I’m planning to start biking to work once the days get longer so that it is is daylight when I go to, and come home from, work). And second, a pair of minimalist running shoes (both because I tried a pair on once and I loved them and I have been reading Born to Run2 ).

And a molecular gastronomy starter kit and book (because I need new hobbies now that I’m done school3.):

Molecular Gastronomy

There were also countless others things: chocolates and mittens and scarves and jewelry and makeup, etc.

Spoiled!

  1. Specifically, Mike Wazowski, also known (to Thomas) as the Baby Eyeball Monster. []
  2. Also, as part of the running study that I’m in, I get 15% off at the Fit First store where we start all of our Sunday runs, so I’m totally buying them there! []
  3. Well, done except for that pesky industry project paper that I need to finish []

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Adorable Things My Nephew Says

Two-and-a-half year olds are hilarious. That’s how old my nephew is and he is a ball of energy and says the most hilarious things1.

There are some things that he says a lot, such as “Be careful”, “I’ll be careful”, “What happened?”, and “Can I eat it?” He’ll tell you to be careful if you are doing anything remotely dangerous, like walking up the stairs, walking down the stairs, or just walking. “Be careful, Grandma!” “Be careful, Aunt Beth!” He is always looking out for your welfare. Today when I went out for a run, he sent me off with an enthusiastic “Good luck!!”

He often asks, “What happened?”, as he always wants to know what’s going on. If someone tells a joke and everyone laughs, he looks at you very earnestly and asks, “What happened?”

“I’ll be careful” is his refrain when he’s told he shouldn’t be touching something. To a sentence like “Thomas, the Christmas tree ornaments are for looking, not touching.” he’ll reply, “I’ll be careful!” To a sentence like, “Thomas, that is your sister’s Monster High doll, not yours”, he’ll reply, “I’ll be careful!” I’m sure if there were a flame thrower or a chain saw in the house, he’d just tell you “I’ll be careful!”

The kid loves to eat, so “Can I eat it?” (or, alternatively, “Can I bite it?” or “Can we eat it?”) is another thing that he says a lot, even if the “it” in question is in no way edible. I mean, he definitely asks it about chocolate, chips, candy, the lunch you just made for the express purpose of him eating it, but he’ll also ask it about every single present you open, not matter what it is. When I asked Thomas if we should watch the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, he replied excitedly, “Can we eat it?”

Speaking of movies, he has his favourites. He likes Turbo: “We can watch the snail movie?”2 – and Monsters University: “Baby Eyeball Monster movie!” In the past couple of days he has been very interested in watching the Nightmare Before Christmas, which he’ll ask for by saying: “How about Halloween?” Yesterday, since it was Christmas Eve, we wanted to watch Arthur Christmas, but he said, “How about Halloween?” When my sister said, “How about Arthur Christmas?”, he replied: “How about Halloween THEN Christmas?”3.

He’s also said some good Christmas-related things. He’ll tell you, “I like Santa. He’s my friend” and when the power went out briefly due to the ice storm and he saw the Christmas tree lights go off, he said, “I can fix it!”

But the best saying so far on this trip has been Thomas’ thoughts on the Christmas turkey: “It’s like a monster chicken. I’m going to eat that monster chicken.”

  1. Of course, these things are more hilarious when you here them in his adorable little two-and-a-half year old voice! []
  2. He will also turn to you and whisper, “White. Shadow.”, which is very confusing if you haven’t seen Turbo, but very hilarious if you have. []
  3. For the record, we watched Arthur Christmas. []

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The Stockings Were Hung On The Entertainment Centre With Care

Picture it – it’s Christmas Eve and everyone is hanging their stockings. Everyone, that is, except my two and a half year old nephew. Stockings

He was having none of it. He would hold his stocking, he would walk over to where the stocking holders were and then he would either run away from it or throw his stocking in that general direction. But he also wouldn’t let anyone else do it. “*I* want to do it!!” he would say.

We tried various tactics, like, “Santa won’t be able to find it to put presents in it for you!” His sister even tried bribery, offering him some of her Christmas chocolate if he hung up his stocking.

Finally, he decide he would hang up his stocking, but only in a totally different place:

Stocking

We were all very satisfied with this.

Stocking hanger

Then he walked over to his empty stocking hanger, pointed at it and said, “Uh oh!”

Happily, however, Santa was able to find everyone’s stocking and we all got lots of chocolate!

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Gravy Is My Moby Dick

Speaking of best laid plans, our Christmas plans got a little bit turned around this year. We were originally going to do a Christmas turkey dinner at my brother-in-common-law’s cousin’s place last Sunday and then have a light but fancy dinner today, but then, because the whole Greater Toronto Area iced over, we couldn’t go there. So instead we had to make our Christmas dinner here. My mom and sister, unlike me, are very experienced in the making of turkey with all the trimmings. Including my old nemesis: gravy1.

So I asked my sister to teach me her gravy making ways. And now I’m writing down her advice so that the next time I try to make gravy, I’ll remember what she said!

Christmas Eve dinner

Turkey gravy.

Gravy Making Tips

  • Save the drippings from the turkey.
  • Heat the turkey drippings in a pot.
  • Put a few spoonfuls of flour in a bowl and add a bit of turkey drippings to make a slurry.
  • Add the slurry to the pot of drippings and mix it very fast (apparently this helps you avoid lumps).
  • Voila – gravy!
Christmas Eve dinner

Mushroom gravy.

  1. Actually, when I said that gravy is my Moby Dick, my mom said, “me too!” I didn’t know that – I always remember her making gravy. []

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Best Laid Plans

So last night I wrote two scheduled posts for today and was just starting on the postings that I had planned for yesterday when my blog decided it wanted to take Christmas Eve off. Perhaps it was wrapping presents or drinking egg nog, but whatever it was doing, it was not working for me. Happily, it’s back now, so I’m going to finish them now, while the little ones are napping, having gotten up at 6 am to see what Santa had brought them and then tired themselves out after playing with the million and one toys they received.

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Nollaig Shona!

In honour of my trip to Ireland this year, I say “Nollaig Shona” to all!

Irish blessing

Image Credit: Posted by Sr. Heather, OPA on Flickr.

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Merry Christmas!

merry christmas

I’m scheduling my posts for today so I can enjoy the day without worrying about responsibilities. Right about now, we are opening a big pile of presents under the Christmas tree. But the best present of all is being with my family!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Image Credit: Posted by Jen Donely on Flickr.