28 February 2011

Oscar overview

kindly skip over this entry if you dont want to read hollywood chatter.

as you know, hollywood award season is to me what college football season is to dave. lifeblood. my feeling toward movies is similar to my feelings toward food: i like to try new things, i love being pleasantly surprised, i say "better luck next time" when i have a less than stellar experience, i have my comfort favorites that cant be replaced no matter how old i get, and the classics have a special place in my heart.

anywho, this year i found a live web feed but missed the red carpet (thanks X). but i was able to watch a large portion of the actual awards (unlike last year or the year before) so that was a good thing. maybe. i found the dresses to be pretty "safe" and on the whole boring, but i guess they were better than some of the disasters from years past. i had a few favorites though so that was something at least.

(favorite surprise of the night was cate blanchetts unusual dress that totally rocked; and while reeses dress was "safe" i thought in general she looked hot)
(i was shocked to find this picture and think "camila alves. va-va-voom!" she has never really been on my radar, but she looks like a modern day frida kahlo. and i mean that in the most complimentary way possible [if you know me, you will know where im coming from]. gorgeously exotic.; and my mr darcy, eh-hem, mr colin firth. what a dapper dude. and his wife looks lovely. glad he is being well taken care of.)

as for the actual award show. ack. the hosts (james franco and anne hathaway) were total tanks for me. anne has always annoyed the crap out of me, so that wasnt a shock, but i was looking for so much more from james. he seems to have carved out a unique, cool place for himself in recent years but he looked like a dull, stiff, pretty boy on stage. i wanted to punch him in the stomach. or slap him or something. ditto for anne. they were wasting my time and embarrassing me in the same second.

thankfully though, there were a couple bright spots. i was rather surprised to find myself chuckling at the award presentation by russell brand/helen mirren. tee hee. and i liked colins win and speech, although, i would have actually liked to have seen him dance, or kick up his heels or something. {sigh} but that was it. those were the positives. you throw in an annoying presence and musical performance from gwyneth paltrow (!? she now tops my list of major irritants, and her stupid newsletter GOOP) and ive got to say that the oscars were, overall, a waste of my precious time. :( but i still look forward to next year, and the year after that, and then ive got to keep the kookiness up so that X can be convinced to watch with me during the years while im stuck in a nursing home.

27 February 2011

Sweet nectar combats social ills

got out for brunch before heading into retail hell.

we chose the nectar social house in dartmouth for brunch today. it had been on my list for a while but we finally got around to it. its on the same block as two if by sea cafe, so i was hoping to be as pleased with nectar as we were by the cafe. nectars website makes it look pretty swanky, so i wasnt sure how things would pan out.

thankfully when we arrived the place was just starting to calm down, which is always good for us. they cleared a place for us so we could sit at a comfortable table and spread out our babyware, so that was nice. and then, while we skimmed the menu, we noted the cool mod decor: fringe curtains as room dividers, dark woods, leather wall tiles, funky wallpaper patterns, glass tile, white leather chairs, and lots of cool lighting and mirrors. and still, amid all this hip, trendiness, they were really pleasantly kid-friendly toward us.

(reading with papa while we wait for food)

as for food, dave ordered the buttermilk banana pancakes which came with fresh fruit on top. very yummy without being too sweet and there was a real amount of fruit (not a garnish like most places) so X could enjoy as well. and for me, i ordered the "eggs bombay." a departure from my otherwise standard breakfast fare. and i really dug it. it was two poached (medium) eggs over rice, covered in a mild curry sauce and served with sourdough toast. it also came with sausage which i of course gave to dave. im glad i branched out because it was a really nice dish. if we go back i know im going to be hard pressed to order anything else. im now on the hunt for unusual brunch items, i like being pleasantly surprised.

(mmmm, food)

another lovely surprise: the womens bathroom had a basket of individually rolled up terry washcloth-sized towels to dry your hands on. it was a luxurious bathroom accent and an eco-friendly choice that also worked well for helping to clean X up at the end of the meal. i thought it was fabulous.

all that positive energy was just what i needed before we went to the mall...eeeppps. we tried the bookstore "chapters" first. i wanted to buy a few of the library books we were enjoying with X so that we could have them for our very own. my mistake though, i thought bookstores still actually sold books. they do not. chapters is like a mini-disneyworld. the store had just as many tables filled with knick-knacky junk and toys as it did books, and that is BEFORE you entered the kids area. there was a HUGE entrance sign making you feel like you were entering a ride, and what a ride it was. the outer edges of the area that penned you in were set up as the bookshelves and then everything inside the pen was toys: buckets and boxes and piles of toys and games. they had one of the worst collections of books i have ever seen. so when i went looking for the one thing i really wanted, of course i couldnt find it. our home "library" is more diverse than this bookstore was, and we didnt bring a single kids book with us here when we moved! i was fuming.

(crazyland. although, this picture doesnt begin to do the place justice)

on our way out of chapters, we peeked in to the neighboring store, tag, to see what they had in the baby section. its like a target that sells only clothes and home decor. decent prices, lots of color, and decent variety. i couldnt convince myself to buy anything though, but it was nice to know they have a whole wall of children rain gear for when the time comes...and that time is coming soon.

(this much color and fresh plastic smell would normally give me a seizure, but it is nice to know where i can go to outfit X when the spring rain falls begin)

14 February 2011

Bathtub time machine

this weekend we were able to preview a big kid milestone, as well as take a trip back to the twilight zone of newborn hell.

so, some of Xs friends are already turning one. this saturday we had our first one year old birthday party to attend. we expected and tried to get X to nap beforehand, but she must have sensed something in the air and would NOT go to sleep. so, we gave up and told her she had to stay awake until the end of the party (which she did, it was a one nap day for her). we got to the party late because we had planned on the nap and showering and getting ready while X slept, grr. so it was in full swing when we arrived and all of our playdate pals were there. thankfully we didnt miss out on singing happy birthday to mr kaleb.

(all three of the girls of the playgroup are actually in this pic: X, ava, and havyn; birthday boy kaleb with his mom laura)

then, on sunday we made a mexican casserole to take to our visit with newborn baby molly and her tired parents. mom, janice, is a geology PhD student working with daves boss and this is her first child with husband mike. they are nice people who are far away from family, like us. having a little one in the dead of winter cant be fun, plus, janice is already back at work trying not to lose too much time off of her PhD schedule. so, mike is the stay at home dad, struggling to keep his eyes open while caring for the newborn. not that mom has it easy either!

it was nice to be able to bring them food, break their social isolation, and give them some confidence that things will get easier (slightly. ha!). they had the same feelings and frustrations as us and they were just tired enough to have their guard down to be able to share with us without feeling weird or taboo about it. those early days are brutal man! plus they were in the thick of the 3 week growth spurt. ugh. and while i honestly cant remember the exact intensity of it anymore (it really does fade!) i still have a great fear of the newborn days, and still have sense enough to not to want to do it again anytime (ever?). i do hope we can semi-regularly see them, at least to help boost everyones spirits until we get out of this windy, grey winter. its so nice to be able to commiserate. :)

so, we saw the not so distant future and experienced a first birthday party, and got to take a step back to the hellish nightmare that is the newborn. interesting to see how far X has come, and where we are going. when you can pause for a second and reflect, its pretty amazing what they accomplish in their first year.

09 February 2011

Three out of five starfish

who says a fancy 3-course dinner cant happen with a baby?

dave recently alerted me to the fact that it is dine out month in halifax again. last year, while i was pregnant, we got out twice to enjoy the fancy dinner options: once at five fishermen and once at press gang. this year, the only menu that JUMPED at me was from five fishermen, and since we had such a positive experience last year, and some tasty crab cakes at the summer seafood festival, i thought it was a good enough reason to attempt a fancy 3-course meal with X.

we planned for a tuesday dinner at 6p thinking the place wouldnt be too crowded and we would bother the least amount of people, if indeed X became a problem. so, the day came and it was snowy out. snowy enough that i called the restaurant to make sure it was going to be open, because i didnt want to walk down there in nice-ish clothes and find a "sorry for the inconvenience" sign on the door. luckily though, they were staying open for the night.

when we arrived and were seated we had a corner of the restaurant to ourselves, so i relaxed a bit. no one seemed horrified by our presence and we werent getting any dirty looks so the night was looking good so far. we quickly gave our waitress our order (since we had reviewed the special menu online and made our choices ahead of time) and went over to their unlimited salad and mussels bar. dave loaded up a plate of mussels and other things and ate while i entertained X. then i hit the salad bar and made a plate of fruit and greens for Xs dinner, and i had a few bites of salad bar offerings before the hot food came.

i ordered the "pan seared local sustainable steelhead trout with citrus scented israeli couscous, grilled artichokes, and lemon mustard seed chutney." the israeli couscous we had had here last time was so memorably fantastic that i was giddy to eat my first spoonful of this citrus version tonight. unfortunately the flavor didnt pop and the couscous was quite clumpy. the fish was good but nothing memorable. for me, the stand out items on the plate were the grilled artichokes. smokey and tender. they had a wonderful flavor. i think i could have eaten a whole main course of nothing but that. so, at least there was that yumminess.

(my dinner)

dave ordered the "blueberry honey glazed duck breast with sweet potato and apple mash, pistachio & rosemary pesto." the duck was decent but for me there were too many bites with pieces of fat too big to ignore. i wanted to chew and swallow them, but i just got grossed out after a while. the duck meat itself was tasty, but overall i wasnt impressed. the sweet potato mash was too sweet and blah for me. X liked it though. lol.

(daves dinner)

dessert arrived shortly after and we were able to finish our meal with a proper dessert for the first time in almost a year. i ordered the "valley apple & 'terra beata' cranberry cake with brown butter ice cream and calvados caramel sauce." the cake was dry and lame and because of X i wasnt able to have the brown butter ice cream, something that dave was able to reap the benefit of. he made the same "yum yum" noises he used to make while eating something with salted caramel in france, sooooo, im thinking the ice cream was a hit. daves dessert was the "deconstructed black forest cake (dark chocolate cake, bing cherry compote, chocolate fudge sauce, kirsch whipped cream)." the dark chocolate cake and fudge were of respectable chocolate quality, so we thoroughly enjoyed it. i couldnt do the whipped cream, but dave said he barely noticed the hint of liquor. im not a big fan of cherries, but the dessert was good despite that element.

(my dessert; daves dessert)

so, how did X make out? great! she explored the restaurant until the main course came and then she sat in her high chair with us and gorged on fruit, salad fixings, buttered bread, and the occasional scoop of sweet potato mash from mom. she had a big appetite that night which thankfully meant she was willing to spend some time at the table. she was actually in more of a go, go, go mood than normal tonight so things could have ended badly if she hadnt been interested in sitting to eat.

(Xs "before" plate; X and her plate enjoying dinner)

in the end, it was nice to get out and show ourselves that we can enjoy a fancy meal with X. dont get me wrong, in the future, i am very pro-babysitter, but while that isnt an option here i am happy to know we can succeed in this endeavor. it was a bummer that this particular fine dining attempt wasnt very impressive but at least there were some side dishes that were top notch.

and, if you are now exhausted of reading about food, you can pump your fist along with this anti-foodie article i recently came across. although, i honestly wouldnt categorize myself as a foodie. i just dont like chain restaurants, i like trying new things (especially when friends are involved), and i like to pay for things that are worth my time and the calories.

06 February 2011

Viewed from arms length, a decent diner

another sunday brunch that didnt really meet expectations.

after a nightmarish night of "sleep" courtesy of X, i was in no mood to try a nice place for brunch. so we put aside our brunch wish list and found a diner with decent reviews that we hadnt tried yet. we chose the "armview diner."

we arrived just as the crowds were thinning and got a quiet area to sit. the decor was 60s/70s style and had only been updated sparingly since then. there were old barber shop knick knacks around, dj equipment (used for their nighttime entertainment) and the overall colors and designs were funky. so the place had potential.

as we sat looking at the menu, a friendly little girl and her father came over to say hi to X. had a nice parental chat in which he assured us that things do get better and that he was enjoying every minute of his time with his precious daughter. he was an older dad, and seemed to have so much enthusiasm about it, so it was nice to listen to him talk.

as for food, i ordered my diner standard of 2 scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries, toast, and tea. the bacon was extremely fatty/greasy, limp and nearly devoid of actual meat. made me shiver just thinking about eating a wobbly strip of fat. the eggs were dry and lame, and everything else was average.

dave ordered the haddock burger with home fries. he actually enjoyed his food and really liked the lemon dill tartar sauce. X also had a good experience. she got some toast from my plate, and we ordered her a side of fruit. blueberries, melon, grapes. she ate everything we offered her. i couldnt believe she packed it all away!

in the end, it was a standard diner with a few shining elements and a few cringe-ables. i wouldnt go back, but we didnt have a bad time.