This year’s Christmas baking was a low key affair. We’d decided to do our baking on Friday, because we had a party to go to on Saturday and wanted to bring some baked goods with us. But then my sister got booked into a meeting all afternoon because Friday was still technically a workday and we were already scheduled to go to see Star Wars that night, so me, my mom, and my niblings just did the baking without my sister1.
I made my old stalwart, shortbread cookies from my Great Granny’s recipe that was taught to me by my Aunt Wendy:
And then I made fudge because (a) it’s easy, (b) who doesn’t love fudge?, and (c) it involves sweetened condensed milk, which means that I get to lick the lid of the can of sweetened condensed milk!
My niece made peanut butter snowballs, from a family recipe that she got from her grandfather:
My nephew made Rice Krispie squares with festive rice krispies:
My mom was the most prolific baker, as usual. She made butter tart squares:
Today was the Annual General Meeting of the Arts Council of New Westminster, followed by its 50th birthday party! For the past 50 years, the ACNW has been bringing community of New Westminster together through the arts and I’m proud to have been a small part of that.
I joined the board of ACNW back in June 2014, at the encouragement of my friend, Tig. It was shortly after I finished my MBA and it gave me my first experience of being on a board of directors. For the past year, I served as the secretary on the board. I got to work with a fabulous group of people, got to contribute to an organization that supports artists in the community and runs many of the amazing events that makes New West such a cool place to be. I learned a lot, made some great friends, and am proud of what we’ve accomplished over this time. I made the tough decision to step down from the board after 3+ years – with my day job getting busier and busier and my new role on CESBCY, I felt like I should not spread myself too thin and that it was a good time to make way for some new blood on the Arts Council board. I will continue to be a supporter of the ACNW, but now as a cheerleader on the side rather than as a member of the board. Looking forward to seeing what amazing things the ACNW does in the next 50 years!
Happy birthday, ACNW and thank you to all the artists, art enthusiasts, donors, staff, volunteers, board members, and ACNW members who make it all possible!
Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday, so I thought it would be fun to show up unannounced for a surprise birthday visit! The conference I was at in Washington, DC ended today and, unbeknownst to my mom, I had to fly through Toronto to go back to Vancouver. So I decided that instead of having a 2 hour stopover in T.O., I would pay a few extra bucks to have a 1 day stopover so that I could spend my mom’s birthday with her! I recruited my sister to this subterfuge and had her invite my mother over tonight so that I could just take show up at my sister’s place – and she was so surprised!
The funny thing is, my sister and I came up with this awhile ago, back when I booked my flight to Washington. And wouldn’t you know it, but last month my mom tells me that she decided to go to Montreal to surprise her sister, my Aunt Maureen, for her birthday! Apparently the apple does not fall too far from the tree!
This year’s Halloween costume, being immortalized here on ye old blog:
To put this photo in context, my gym had a costume contest: show up at the gym in your costume, take a photo, and post it on Instagram. Best photo wins a prize! Hence why I am holding a dumbbell in the photo – but in true Cersei fashion, I did not put down my wine goblet, even to workout! Props to my fellow gym goer for suggesting that I put up a weight bench to use as my throne!
Just like the year I dressed up as Daenerys, I am surprised by how many people I came across today who do not watch Game of Thrones. I mean, isn’t it the most watched show in the history of television? I thought for sure that in the intervening two years since I dressed up as Daenerys, including carrying around three dragons all day, and repeatedly got “Are you Elsa from Frozen?”, surely enough additional people would have started watching GOT that everyone would know I was Cersei. But alas, I got a fair number of blanks stares and upon asking “Do you watch Game of Thrones?” and hearing “No,” I’d reply “Well, I’m Cersei from Game of Thrones”, and they’d said, “Oh, is she good?” Ha! She’s only like the most evil character to ever have eviled!
The fact that there are so surprisingly many non-GOT fans out there did allow me to have this fantastic conversation:
Me: I’ll have a grande no room Americano.
Starbuck Barista: OK. What’s your name?
Me [with a straight face]: Cersei.
Starbuck Barista [with a confused look]: Sorry? What?
Me [continuing to have a straight face]: Cersei. C-E-R-S-E-I
She still managed to spell my name incorrectly on the cup:
Sadly, my gym photo is the only full length photo I managed to get of myself! I was teaching tonight and I wore my costume to class, because I’ll be damned if I’ll let a little academic responsibility get in the way of my wearing a costume on Halloween. A couple of students asked me for a photo, but I didn’t get a copy of those and totally forgot to snap one on my own phone. (I also wore my costume to work during the day, but also neglected to get a proper photo1.) Here are some photos of my failed attempt to take a decent photo when I got “home” tonight (where “home” = the hotel I’m staying in as I’m working offsite to collect some data):
And also an OK photo of my hairstyle:
When I bought my costume, I was looking at the wigs in the Halloween store to see if they had a Cersei one (which they didn’t). I didn’t clue into the fact that I already have long blonde hair until I got home. D’oh!
A colleague did take a photo of me working intently on my computer in my costume, but (a) it wasn’t full length and (b) I look terrible in it. [↩]
I’d been dying to make these Pokémon candies since Scott sent me the video of how to make them. Well, it was Cath’s birthday the other day and that seemed like the perfect excuse to try out the recipe!
Really, all you need to make these are some candy melts and silicone half-sphere mould. The former were pretty easy to find (I got them on sale at Michael’s craft store, but later discovered you can also buy them in bulk at the Bulk Barn), whereas the latter were more difficult. We checked every kitchen store in the area, plus Michael’s, Canadian Tire, Winners, and London Drugs and found silicone moulds in every shape other than half sphere. In the end, I had to resort to ordering it from Amazon!
Candy Melts are available in just about any colour you can imagine!
Silicone half sphere mould
Then all you had to do was melt the appropriate colour Candy Melts, coat the mould with it and stick it in the freezer. In ~15 minutes, they popped right out and were all beautiful and shiny!
We made two yellow half spheres to make Pikachu, two blue half spheres to make a Polliwag, and one red & one white half sphere to make the Pokéball! Then we made some ears for Pikachu1 and then, using food safe paint brushes and melted Candy Melts of various different colours, decorated them up. Then you use the remaining melted Candy Melts to glue the two halves together and you are good to go!
The original video shows you how to make them as piñatas, but I didn’t think it would be nice to smash a poor innocent little Pokémon! Well, at least until you are going to eat it.
They are Pokélicious!
Sadly, one of the ears fell off on the way to the party! [↩]
Three years ago today I adopted my little fuzzballs, Watson & Crick. When I first got them, they were very much people cats, but they’ve gotten even more cuddly and affectionate. Crick started out as a kitty who would like to be curled up next to me on the couch or in the bed, but now she’s a full on lap cat, who will sit on my lap when I watch TV and who more often than not curls up on my chest to go to sleep at night. Watson still likes to sit just out of arm’s reach and meow at you because you are not petting him when you sit on the couch, but now he’s willing to curl up next to me on the couch or the bed and on the weekend he even sat in my lap while I watched two full episode of The High Man in the Crooked Tower! I was in heaven!
In honour of their third adoptiversary, I bought the kitties a cat house that looks like a shark because that’s hilarious. Here’s a video of them checking it out when I first gave it to them:
I like that they politely took turns getting into it. Much unlike their cat tree situation, where Watson inevitably attacks Crick if she sits on any level of the tree, even though he only ever wants to sit on the very top.
So far, Crick seems to like the shark more than Watson, as she spent a fair bit of time hanging out in there:
Watson went back in again after that, but quickly got out once I started taking pictures:
Happy adoptiversary, my sweeties! You make my life better every day!
Two words for you: laser tag. Anyone who didn’t celebrate their milestone-birthday-whose-number-shall-not-be-named by playing laser tag really missed out.
You will not find a finer group of laser taggers than this crew.
I knew I wanted to do something different for my birthday this year and after much deliberation, I settled on laser tag. I hadn’t played laser tag since high school, but I remembered it being really fun and also, it seemed like something epically ridiculous to do for my birthday. And hence, I scheduled two private games of laser tag (or should I say “lazer” tag) at the laser tag place in New West and gathered a group of peeps who were up for the challenge of spending an hour shooting at each other in a dark labyrinth. The first game was a free for all, where it was every man, woman, and child for themselves. In this game, I learned that I have terrible aim and was very glad that there is no cost for ammo when it comes to laser tag. In the second game, we were put into two teams and your objective was to only shoot people on the other team while not shooting people on your own team. As it turns out, Team Red’s strategy of strategizing bested Team Blue’s approach of not strategizing. Who knew? Despite my poor performance, I had so. much. fun! It was even more fun than I remembered it being! Everyone else was also raving about what a blast they had too (even a few who had been skeptical before the game), which made me very happy!
After the games were over and we all had a chance to examine our score cards in detail1, we headed over to my place for the after party, where we (along with some other peeps who weren’t up for (or available for) laser tag but who were up for partying) ate, drank, and were merry into the wee hours. As usual when it comes to parties, I didn’t get nearly enough time to chat with anyone as much as I wanted to, but I did really have a great time and was reminded that I have the best friends ever.
Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate with me. And if anyone wants to go play laser tag again, I’m game!
For the record, in game two I only shot one of my own team members, though I did shoot her twice. [↩]
Hey, remember that time I said that my sister and I were going to take our mom to New York City for her birthday? Well, that trip was Dec 20-23 and we had a pretty amazing time! Of course, 4 days is really only enough time to scratch the surface of the Big Apple, so while we had an amazing time, we clearly have to go back because there were so many things we didn’t get to do!
We stayed at the Hudson Hotel, which was lovely and had a decor that I would characterize as lots of textures but barely any light.
On our first night, we had a bite to eat at the Hudson Common (their beer bar) and then went for a walk, whereupon we stumbled upon a Christmas market! Given the recent attack at the Berlin Christmas market, there was high security at the one we stumbled upon, include police vehicles lining the road in front of it and cops with assault rifles guarding the place.
On day 2 we set out to see a show. We’d been told when we got our tickets to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular that we had to arrive an hour in advance of our 11 am show to get through security so we grabbed coffee and a bite to eat on our way and headed to RCMH. We went through the security, which included one person who searched your purse and then another person who searched you with a metal detection wand, and then we got to the guy who scanned your tickets… and it turned out we were there on the wrong day! We actually had our Christmas Spectacular tickets for Dec 22 and for Dec 21 we had tickets to see Wicked at 2 pm2! So we went off for a walk and stumbled upon the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree. I was less than impressed with the tree itself (though perhaps it looks better at night).
But I was impressed with the people soliciting donations for the Salvation Army3, especially these two guys who were really giving ‘er:
I had wanted to go skating at Rockefeller, but the lineup was too long, so I just took this picture instead:
I also saw this:
“Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times”
I felt like I should take a photo of that before it gets taken away, given recent events in US politics.
We stopped in at a pub for lunch:
Then went to see Wicked!
Wicked was fantastic! They had the understudy playing Elphaba (a.k.a., The Wicked Witch) and she was incredible! I didn’t know anything about the play other than that it was a re-telling of the Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch, who maybe isn’t so wicked after all. It had a cool story, fantastic performances, and the costumes and sets were amazing. Here’s what the stage looked liked before the show started (no photos allowed during the show):
And here we are waiting for the show to start:
That night we went for a pre-dinner drink at Ascent:
My sister had a Manhattan Mule, I had a Rossini Bellini, and my mom had The Trifecta.
and then the most amazing dinner at Porterhouse, where we started with the burrata (we may have dug right into that so fast we forgot to take a photo:
My mom had the Porterhouse Porkchop with a glass of Sancerre:
My sister had the filet mignon with a Malbec:
and I went for the chili rubbed rib eye, also with a Malbec:
On Day 3, we went to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular! We moved expertly through the security line, having done it all the day before, and got inside with plenty of time to spare4
The show was pretty spectacular. The precision with which those dancers dance is amazing! The music was fun and there were a variety of different acts, including, among other things, a very cool instrumental version of the 12 Days of Christmas where the number of Rockettes dancing represented the number of days of Christmas and We Three Kings with actual camels.
After the show, we walked to the MOMA, but the lineup was so long that we weren’t able to actually go in and had to make do with just checking out the gift shops. I bought myself this lovely necklace:
On our way, we passed by Trump Tower:
We were on the opposite side of the street, but anyone who wanted to go right in front of the building had to go through a security screening. And apparently Trump wasn’t even in town – I can’t imagine what it’s like when he’s there.
Next up was dinner at Bar Boulud, including delicious cocktails:
Salmon for my sister:
And my mom and I both had scallops:
After dinner my sister had an Elixir au Chocolate, which she declared the best drink she had ever had:
And we all shared profiteroles for dessert:
On our fourth and final day, we decided to walk to the High Line Park, and along the way we saw Times Square:
and my mom met her favourite snowman, Olaf:
and the New York Times:
and Madison Square Garden:
and the big post office:
and we may have stopped for a treat at Doughnut Plant:
And with that it was time to head back to the hotel to grab our bags and head out to the airport!
As you can see, while we saw quite a few things, there is a tonne of stuff that we didn’t see! Clearly, we need to go back!
We also had truffle and parmesan popcorn, which was amazing! [↩]
Thankfully we didn’t have it mixed up the other way around and show up for a 2 pm show to find out we’d missed an 11 am one! [↩]
I was conflicted about liking this, given that the Salvation Army is an anti-LGBT organization and I also hate that song (which I refer to as the “I love you because you have low self-esteem” song), but it was very entertaining how much they were into it. [↩]
In addition to all the security that we’d seen the previous day, on this day we also saw the bomb sniffing dogs walking through the venue. [↩]