Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Summer Heat

Firstly, my sincere apologies for disappearing for two months. June and July were so crazy that I didn't know whether I was going left or right! I picked up the Irish chef from Pearson Airport (in Toronto), mid-June, welcoming him back after what I think he has felt to be an extremely exhausting year of teaching in Saudi (Arabia). Living in a beautiful, yet very tiny coastal town, working for a college that, like many schools in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, is only interested in beating the students with English is tough, both psychologically and physically. Family "stuff", prepping for our vacation (and the wedding), and working like crazy kept me running around like a madwoman. That being said, there were some SUMMER days here and there when I was able to take a breath and spend time with my loved ones :)

Soaking in some rays with my dad after his doctor's appoint:

 Outside of Chil on a brilliantly sunny and hot day (one of the few that we had in June and July)!
 This was my father's...Concoction. What's IN his??? I don't think he'd ever been to this kind of establishment (self-serve/make-your-own ice cream/frozen yoghurt/sorbet), so he was pretty surprised and excited. Yes, he LOVES food, too! Shocker.
Mine was all sorbet (dairy-free). I added Pop-Tarts and sweet mochi (pounded rice)!

Unsurprisingly, going to a garage sale isn't what I'd call enjoyable, so when my sister proposed the idea, I wasn't jumping up and down. Somehow she managed to bribe me with a specialty coffee and off we went. The event was a special one since it was a pre-planned suburb-wide sale. Hyde Park (from Wonderland Rd. to Hyde Park Rd. and from Gainsborough Rd. to Fanshawe Park Rd.) was hosting a neighbourhood yard sale. While on our way, the car in front of us put on their turning signal and slowed to a stop. We pulled up to the car to see if they needed help and who should be driving but a manager of mine when I worked at Taco Bell (what we fondly called Toxic Hell even though we had a BLAST working there!). He said he was fine and had just called a tow truck. Since both cars were blocking the entire street, we had to move. I told him I'd try to find him on Facebook and drove off. To my surprise, we ended up buying something from him while were looking around the garage sale! We caught up and chatted a bit and it was nice to hear that he's doing so well! London (Ontario) is way too small, but it's on these occasions it makes me happy :)  People were out in full force and there were times we struggled to find parking! Emi ended up getting a head an foot board set, a COMFY reading chair, foot stool, desk chair and mirror...Picture (?) for less than $200!!! I can see why people LOVE garage sales!

 Oh, yeah! Lemonade stand! This one is WAAAAY cooler than the cheap-looking one I set-up as a kid!!! I also charged like a penny (1 cent), for a cup! Friggin' inflation!! LOL!!!
Emi a bit too excited about the whole thing.
My purchase of the day, which I admit-although I really shouldn't-that the Irish chef and I play this all the time!!! BEST $2.00 I've EVER spent!

Much to my JOY, the Irish chef returned to Canada just before Father's Day, so he was able to enjoy dinner with us! My father requested we go to the Japanese restaurant, Shiki. Now I'm not sure if they're under new management, but the menu had several new additional items and the staff seemed new. Thankfully, it was still as delicious as ever!

 I was EAGERLY waiting for food!!!
 Vegetable & seafood tempura and yakisoba!!!
 My dad ordered a dinner combo consisting of both tempura and sushi :)
 The Irish chef was craving some pork and ordered tonkatsu (breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet). He also LOVES takuan (pickled horseradish), so he ordered some of that, too! Not many foreigners like takuan, so I was pretty surprised when it became a quick favourite of his!
I couldn't help it! I ordered green tea cheesecake. However, I couldn't even eat half of it and the Irish chef isn't a fan of green tea flavoured desserts (WHAT???), and my sis and dad had ordered green tea ice cream, so they were no help!

Most of June consisted of me anxiously waiting for the Irish chef to return to Canada!!! When he was back, we continued enjoying the food that London has to offer! First we hit up a new(er) Indian restaurant that was recommended to us from friends of ours who are Indian. Gotta take that pretty seriously! The restaurant, India House, is actually in the same strip of buildings as Shiki.

 I was SUPER excited about trying this place out since Curry Garden has closed (on Richmond St.). I don't know if Jewel of India has as well, but I can't recall seeing it as I was driving before we left town.
 Papadums and chutney!!!! Ohhh, sometimes it's SO TOUGH to remember to take photos before demolishing delicious dishes!!!
 Onion bhaji: one of my favourite appetizers!
 Samosas! One of the Irish chef and my sister's favourite appetizers!
 I can't remember the name of what I ordered :(  It was likely butter chicken
Honestly, I had pictures of the menu and stupidly deleted them! I'm sorry! I CAN tell you it was reasonably priced and VERY tasty!!!

We went to other places to eat, but for some reason, the emails with the pictures from those places never arrived to my inbox and I'd deleted the shots after sending them :(  We ended up at Kimchi House (one of my favourite Korean restaurants!), and we also headed to Jack Astor's (which we almost NEVER eat at) after seeing Anne of Green Gables at the Huron County playhouse!!! Yes, we're nerds and we know it!  http://www.lfpress.com/2015/06/16/anne-of-green-gables-presented-by-drayton-entertainment. The show was pretty well done, but I'm not a BIG fan of musicals that aren't actually musical scripts (like Phantom of the Opera, Cats, etc...). Anyhooo, back to Jack Astors. I ordered poutine with perogies and it was INCREDIBLE, but I could barely walk afterwards! We also gorged ourselves at Sunfest (http://www.sunfest.on.ca/).

Every summer we end up going to a cottage, and this year my sis and dad went away to a family friend's cottage for a weekend. Because they took their bikes and my sister's car isn't big enough to take two bikes and my dad, the Irish chef and I needed to drive my dad, lol! Not ones to shy away from a road trip, we headed up on a Friday night to Bayfield, Ontario :)  Bayfield is GORGEOUS cottage-country. My father had consumed a mango smoothie BEFORE leaving London and insisted he didn't need to use the washroom prior to hitting the road, so of course he needed to use one about ten minutes outside of Bayfield. With nowhere to stop and barely a shoulder (on the road) to stop on, I asked him to wait until we got to the small town. By the time we got into town, my father made it clear he needed a washroom ASAP. At this point we were stuck in traffic due to a Corvette parade going through town. I was blocked in and couldn't move anywhere. My sister (in her car ahead of us), was yammering out her window that the cottage wasn't even 100 metres away and couldn't he just wait?!? It was turning out to be a slight disaster, and trying to find a place where he could simply use the washroom wasn't working. Here's my warning to travellers coming to Canada: most establishments will NOT allow you to use their washrooms, and if it's an eatery, you're almost always expected to BUY something if you do use the washroom. TERRIBLE POLICY and lack of manners and I apologize on their behalf! I was thinking, "What can I do???" when without even thinking, I maneuvered our car, cut off a beautiful orange Corvette, my sister, very sweetly, followed, and just like that, we were-unofficially-part of the parade. People laughed and pointed, yelled at us and some were quite shocked. I was mortified, but more annoyed at listening to my father tell me what happens when you hold your pee in, lol! I'm sure we'll NOT be welcomed back into town any time soon :(

After the toilet fiasco down at the water:

Looking both ways (right): the view of the Eastern shore of Lake Huron
 Looking left
 The gorgeous sun setting on a beautiful Ontario summer day!
 The water was freakin' freezing!!!
Although the trip to the water was nice (downhill), going back up was another matter, lol!
Emi and my dad's bikes (this is in London). I was trying out Emi's bike while behaving like the total goof that I am ;)

Realizing how important giving back is has changed my life in the best ways possible and June and July were no exceptions! I ended up taking my friend's daughter for a day and we had a blast hanging out :)  We had lunch with my sister and my dad and then went to the park. We shopped, baked cupcakes and did our nails!!! She was so happy with our play date that she told everyone she knew about it, complete with showing them her painted nails, hehehe! I couldn't have been happier that I took the day to spend some quality time with her! 

About a week before leaving for Europe, my very good friends organized a clothing swap with a cause, so I went over to my friend's place early and help sort and display clothes and prep the food. I had quite a bit to contribute and it was decided that any unclaimed clothing would go to the women's shelter in the city. I tried NOT to take any new clothes as I already have a lot and I'm really trying to live on less and less (including clothes, shoes and accessories!). However, I ended up with some fun finds that I LOVE! We also donated money (there was a $2.00 entrance fee), to the International Justice Mission (https://www.ijm.org/) which is a global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world.

 FOOD! Calm down, Mik! Sooo yummy!
I LOVE eating...No secret there. Particularly enjoyed the caramel & Skor (chocolate bar) dip for the apples!!! YUM!!!

Lastly, a friend of mine is the manager of a summer program focused on youth leadership. We decided that I would do a journal-writing seminar to help develop their writing skills, and I had a blast prepping both the presentation and the writing prompts for the teens! They were an awesome group of kids and it was a privilege getting to spend time with them! I will be doing another presentation for the second group partaking in the program once I return to Canada :)

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