Sunday, December 19, 2010

Festive but Fast Weekends...

This weekend went by very, very quickly. Perhaps it's because it's the last weekend before Christmas but even compared to other fast-moving weekends, this was exceptionally quick.

However, for me, it was a very festive weekend which made it nice. Friday, I had a relaxing evening though I did do a little work. The thing with being a recruiter is that sometimes I get phone calls in the evenings from consultants who can't talk during the day. I never mind. It's nice that people feel comfortable calling me during their off-times. Still, I managed to kick back with the puppies, enjoy the season with some mulled wine and just relax.

Saturday began early. I've discovered that the key to a successful shopping trip is to beat the crowds. Since my parents' had planned on coming down this weekend for their annual Jungle Jim's Christmas Shopping Trip, this meant I got to prepare lunch for them. As an aspiring cook, I might get a wee bit too excited about this. I don't get to cook for people too often so when I do, it's an event.

This, of course meant that I had to take a trip of my own to Jungle Jim's on my own. I have learned through my time in living in fairly close proximity to the store and in being a foodie that it's hard to be a hardcore shopper when it's crowded with newbies and visitors from afar. Thus, when armed with a list and a purpose, I go during times when it's less busy. For me, this means before 10 a.m. on a Saturday or on a week night between Monday and Thursday.

Thus, I arrived at Jungle Jim's around 9 a.m. It was quiet. I managed to not only get everything on my list but also have time to look without being surrounded by too many people. Being the holidays, I did have a few splurges. I had to buy some nice wine, for example.

Then, of course, there was the chanterelle mushrooms.

I've been looking to try these for ages. They're popular on all the cooking/food shows I love. They're used a lot on Iron Chef America and I've been longing to try them. I even emailed Jungle Jim's to find out when they would have them. Thus, when they did have them, I bought some. I couldn't resist. I haven't tried them yet but I can't wait. I love mushrooms in general and they look fantastic.

And, on the plus side, I did resist the black truffles that were sitting beside the mushrooms even though I've been longing to try those too. In time, I'm sure I will. For now, I'll work my way up.

I managed to complete my Jungle's Jim trip by 10:30 a.m. and finished up my Christmas shopping by noon. By the time I was done, the crowds were beginning to be out in force. There's nothing more satisfying than getting ready to leave just as everyone else is arriving.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning my house. Then I got to spend the evening with a good friend having a lovely festive time ordering pizza, drinking wine, watching "The Holiday" which is one of my favourite Christmas films and drinking spiked hot chocolate. It put me in the Christmas spirit. I love that feeling.

Today, I got to spend the day with my parents. I made them lunch which was a nice treat for me. I tend to go a little overboard but I think it was worth it. Today's menu was:
  • Arugula salad with toasted walnuts, roasted pears, gorgonzola cheese with shallot vinegarette
  • Spaghetti with brown butter and Mizythra cheese (yes, the Old Spaghetti Factory recipe)
  • Gingerbread cake with vanilla whipped cream (thanks, Ms. P., for the whipped cream suggestion!)
  • A nice chianti

I had no liver and fava beans to go with the chianti but I think it was probably better and less bloody my way. It turned out pretty well, I think. We all ended up rather stuffed.

Afterwards, we went to Jungle Jim's. It was a nice trip but far more hectic than the previous days' visit. That's the thing with the holidays. Everyone has to shop. This means the shelves were more sparse, the crowds much thicker and it took a lot longer. Still, I always enjoy looking around with my parents'. It's always a new perspective. I think as a 'local', I get a little jaded as to the luxury of having such a nice store so close by. With my parents', I can appreciate the fabulousness of having such a place at which to shop.

Now my parent's are headed home and I'm ready to relax with the pups. They're currently out frolicking in the snow, hunting bunnies. One was sighted this morning and thus Sookie has been standing guard all day. Rory, meanwhile, got board with standing guard and has taken to licking the ice patch that has refroze after some icicles on the roof melted onto the patio this morning. I'd chastise her for it's ice and she's a dog. There could be worse things she could be doing. Just as long as her tongue doesn't freeze.

It's just hard to believe that in a week, Christmas will have passed by already. It's sad. I'm trying not to look ahead and simply appreciate the now so that I can appreciate the time I can spend being festive and enjoying Christmas before it's all over for another year. I, personally, would be quite ok if we could also spend January baking cookies, decorating the house, watching Christmas movies and having parties.

I suppose we could but, well, it's just not the same, is it?

Nevertheless, there's still almost a week until the holiday and I, for one, intend to be horribly festive and twee in my efforts to salute this time of year.

I love Christmas!

Happy Monday!

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