Spice Safar

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing for a freelance position to help further the Spice Safar brand. As a result, I was allowed to experience Spice Safar as a customer as well.

I entered the King West location in the morning, and approached the front desk. I explained to the attendant (I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and call him a Barista) that I was here to meet the founder and CEO, Wilhelm Liebenberg. I was told he was in a meeting, and asked if I would like a coffee. Not hungry enough for a milk-based drink, and certain I didn’t wanted a full dose of drip coffee (I’ve been trying to cut back on the caffeine), I made a snap decision and asked for an espresso. This turned out to be the perfect choice… the attendant told me to go sit down and he’d bring it to me.

As I waited, I pulled out my iPod Touch and scanned for wireless connections. I saw one for Spice Safar, and when the attendant came over, I asked him for the password. I logged on, and happily checked my email (I love this wi-fi being provided for free to customers in many places downtown – right on, Toronto).

But more importantly, the attendant had brought a rectangular, white plate arranged with a small espresso mug on a little saucer, a beautifully shaped spoon, a long, thing bag of raw sugar, a shot glass filled with sparkling water and – my favourite, of course – a little bowl with the most perfect portion of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen – about 8 small bites on the spoon.

I was in heaven. The espresso had a light, frothy head, felt creamy to the tongue and tasted nutty and chocolaty with just a hint of coffee flavour. I wanted to savour it, so I took small sips and ate some of the chocolate cake in between. When I was done, the sparkling water was the perfect accompaniment to clear my mouth and throat of any stickiness. I find I always want water after espresso – Spice Safar certainly gets the whole experience right.

My partaking was complimentary, but Wilhelm mentioned the price being the same as what you pay at Starbucks. If that’s true, I think I’ll start going to Spice Safar more often!

Look out for their flagship store, launching in the next couple of months at King & Spadina.

Group buying power

One of the cooler things about living in Toronto is all of the deals you can get on a daily basis. I recently got into TeamBuy and WagJag, both websites which offer a deal on a daily basis (some last longer than one day), typically a meal, service or other entertainment in the range of 30-60% off the regular price. TeamBuy is where I got my gym membership from – 6 months for $150, which is an amazing deal.

I just stumbled across another one, too. It’s similar, but works slightly differently – you get coupons emailed to you daily. I’ve just signed up, and I’m looking forward to the deals they feature. Check it out at Groupon.

Salad of the Gods

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few years on eating healthy, choosing the right foods, and eating a well-balanced, varied diet. I’ve tried exercising, cleansing, whole food diets and vegetarianism, and have found that a combination of the main principles of all of them are really the best approach to living a healthy life. I still eat meat, though less of it, and focus more on the good fat types of meat – mainly seafood. Of course, what I’ve discovered to be the healthiest approach is really tailored toward my own body – I note my mental and physical energy whenever I eat, and know what foods to eat more of and what to avoid.

The salad I’m posting today is the best recipe to come out of all this obsession, and it is my own. I call it the Salad of the Gods because it pleases me in every way: tongue, belly, and brain. I always feel energetic after eating it, it tastes delicious, and it helps me stay sharp.

Equipment needed:

Clean coffee grinder, or a coffee grinder that you reserve for seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ of a large cucumber, sliced, slices halved OR ¼ green pepper, diced
  • ¼ medium-sized ripe avocado, sliced in chunks
  • 1/3rd package of Sea Quest King Crab flavoured Alaska Pollock, diced into cubes
  • 2-3 cloves raw, fresh garlic (depending on your palette, you may wish to use more for a stronger flavour, or eliminate this altogether; 2-3 cloves gives a medium bite)
  • 1 tablespoon hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 dessertspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • 1 dessertspoon oregano flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon your favourite DHA oil blend
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Place the baby spinach in a large bowl. Throw on the sliced cucumber or diced green pepper, chunked avocado and cubed King Crab. Place the bowl in the fridge while you prepare the sauce to keep it fresh.

Place the hemp seeds, flax seeds and nutritional yeast into the coffee grinder, and grind until powdery. Scrape out the result from the grinder into a measuring cup (I find this is easiest for mixing, and then pouring when done). In the measuring cup, pour in the parsley and oregano flakes. Pour in the oils, and then the balsamic vinegar. Use a garlic press to press the fresh cloves into the mixture, and then stir it all together until it’s well-mixed.

Get your bowl back out of the fridge. Pour the mixture over the bowl. You can either mix it now, or just begin eating – I find the sauce will spread fairly well over the salad as you eat it, if you’re careful.

Recommendation:

I highly recommend a large glass of the strained juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon in cold water  to accompany this salad. It complements the flavour mighty well, and helps curb the scent of the garlic when you’re done. It’s also highly alkalizing, so if you find the balsamic vinegar a tad acidic, this will counteract that.

Montreal and musings

This was first writen about my Canada trip April/May 2008
Continuing with Canadian trip.
Christina and I drove to Montreal, quite a pleasant journey and not too busy on the roads. We stayed with Jean and shared a bed, something Christina found interesting! It was great to see Jean looking well, she was 95 years young in March!

Denise and her flowering bush, it was early May thus spring in Montreal

Nicholas, Denise and Kirsten


Christina and Jane, at dinner.

We were also able to visit with John and Kath. who have been living back in Montreal since summer 2007 and are enjoying being close to their children again.

We also visited the Davis family while we were in Montreal. They have settled back down to life in Canada after a few years living in UK. They are enjoying sharing life again with their children who stayed in Canada.

Our New House

We have moved into a house in Kemptville Ontario. It is situated on 4+ acres of land and we love it or we did until…………..

We took over possession on 16th Nov. and our furniture arrived from UK on Wed. 25th Nov. We spent our first night in the house last night.
Yesterday the roofers began to replace the roof, it started to rain last night and this morning it turned to snow!!!! When Dave went down to the basement to start plumbing in the washing machine he found we have a leak!!!! Most of the basement is finished so it has travelled a ways before we found it. We have discovered the source of the leak, a crack in the foundation wall with an indentation in the ground beside it thus enabling water to accumulate there and seep into the basement. We are in the process of trying to find who will pay for repairs!!!!

Otherwise we are loving living here, we are very happy to be back in Canada, it is where our hearts are, all we need now is for the family to follow! Actually it really isn’t that far across the pond after living in Asia.

More later, I have work to do

Goodbye No 79

June 15 was a very sad day for us, marked as the day we finally moved out of 79 Clares Green Road.
Actually, the saddest day was a few days before that, as all of our “stuff” was out of there by the 12th.
In the last few weeks there, despite the passing of Vera, we managed to have a gathering to celebrate the final stages. Family and friends joined us for that and we had a great “long weekend” of eating, drinking and being sill as usual. Our thanks to all who came and helped make our last fling there another great memory of No 79.
Although we had owned the place for almost 7 years we only really lived there for 2, as we were in Asia most of the other 5. That doesn’t detract from the charm of the place, and really only made us that much sadder to have never used the place to its fullest potential. Certainly each time we came home from our Expat life we always felt sad about not getting the place into more of what we wanted it to be, and even sadder about leaving again when it was time to do so.
Ah well; all good things come to an end, as they say!
Just time for one last drink by the fire in our lovely back yard.
Cheers!

Here are a few shots of the old place – souvenirs.
This is the back yard, taken from the upstairs bathroom window. You can (just about) see the early mist over the field out the back. This was a primary motivation for buying the house – the “country” at the rear.

Here’s another shot of the back yard – fabulous!

and this is the Wisteria, flowering for the first time. The last 2 houses we have bought we planted a Wisteria when we moved in, then moved shortly after it first started flowering (maybe there’s a lesson to learn there?).

Here’s a few before and after pictures:

The living room

The dining room

our bedroom

and what we considered mum’s (Vera’s) bedroom, as we left it.

The Reception

Mum, me and Mum’s sister Bernadette 2003

We were driven back to Knott End and the Golf Club, taking the flowers with us as we wanted everyone to see them and also to take photos to send to US.
The golf Club is a lovely venue, we had part of the large lounge upstairs overlooking the river Wyer and Fleetwood.
Mum had first arrived, in 1945/6, on a train and alighted at Fleetwood docks where she was told a ferry would take her to Knott End. On this day we watched the present Knott End Ferry (strange ball like affair that is propelled by a sort of suction action which is supposed to mean it can operate even when the tide is very low!!)
bounce back and forth across the river mouth. It was a lovely view and a very clear sunny day.
Some of Mum’s friends had come and they enjoyed looking through the photograph album I had prepared of her life. I tried to chat to most people, everyone had good memories of mum and I like to think that the reception was as she would have wanted.
Mum had left instructions as to how the funeral and cremation should go, also that she wanted a good “party afterwards”. We chose the Golf Club because it was in the village and easier to get to than a restaurant mum had asked for.

Throughout the day everyone had been very kind and especially my friend Helen, who was at my side whenever she saw I needed help. Helen and i have been friends since we were 11/12 so we knew each others family and after Helen’s own Mum died, she had helped my mum with hospital appointments and really enjoyed her company. They were close as they both had breast cancer around the same time.

I would like to thank everyone for your kind words, thoughts, prayers, cards and support at this very sad time. It was a shock to realize that mum was going to die and now it feels like an empty void in my life, I miss her and wish I had done things and said things………… I love you mum, thanks for my life.

Vera’s funeral

Mum’s funeral took place on 21st May 2009 at 11:30A.M. A Requiem mass was said in St. Bernard’s church Knott End, followed by a short service at the Crematorium in Carlton. Finally a reception was held at the Golf Club in Knott End.
The funeral directors brought the coffin to Ashness where they placed the Liverpool flag on it and rearranged the flowers, the one that spelled NANNA really caught your eye.
We then set off for the ferry, the hearse, followed by two cars with the family mourners (first car;Dad, Peter, me, Bernadette and Gerard, second car; Matthew, Lee, Amy, Thomas, Adam and David). My sister and I felt we should drive through the village that had been home to mum for 60 years. John, the funeral director who looked after us, got out of the car and walked in front just before we turned down Hackensall Rd. Once we reached the church we were met by the rest of the family. John gave the boys who where carrying the coffin; Gerard, Matthew, Lee, Thomas, Adam and David, some instructions. The family mourners then followed the coffin into church where it was placed at the front of the Alter (it is a very small church). There were about 60 people in the church including family members, Mum had a lot of friends and people who loved and respected her.

I was doing the reading (Genesis 1 i-iv) and psalm,I was determined to do it well (one of the things mum did for me, when I was still at school, was to pay for elocution lessons, which I have used a few times since. I think I did OK at her funeral. Bernadette read the bidding prayers which she had personalised for Mum. Bernadette read well in spite of being very upset she managed to hold it together. Father Bernard Partington, the pastor spoke a few words about Mum’s life, we had given him some information before. He tied everything into the fact it was Ascension Day (The feast has now been moved to Sunday 24th)and how mum liked the open air and animals (Mum was in the Land Army for 9 years and always loved the outdoors).
The hymns were picked by Dad, mum’s sister, Mum’s niece and my sister. John (the FD)had arranged for a lovely lady to play and sing, everyone thought her renditions of “Ave Maria” and “On Eagles Wings” were beautiful and I know Mum loved it too.
One slight hitch occurred when I signaled Dave to organise my Dad and Peter who were carrying the gifts up to the alter for the offertory and Dave thought I meant him to take up a collection! Most people gave their offering to the RLNI (Royal national Lifeboats Institution) marked in envelops which Dave took out. I appologised and the priest was very happy!
I gave a small presentation which Mum’s family in the States (her sister emigrated there in 1953 and Mum had visited and got to know her three children and there families)had put together as it was not possible for them to be at the funeral.
When that was over I felt I could relax. The boys picked up the coffin and we followed it out to the strains of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (Liverpool Football Club’s anthem) at this point I lost it and started to yell.
After talking to some people outside church we all got into cars and the chief mourners followed the hearse along the roads of Over Wyer to the crematorium. Again John walked in front of the hearse both as we left the church and as we arrived at the crem. Again the 6 boys carried Mum into the crem. while the theme tune from the film Titanic played (David picked this). Father Bernard said a few words and all too soon the curtains closed on Mum for the last time. Outside I felt very sad to see the boys without Mum’s coffin.
Tomorrow the reception

Veronica Constance Mary Ormerod nee Rattray RIP

My Mum died. Mum died at 2:15 A.M. on 13th May 2009. Mum died in Victoria hospital Blackpool. Mum was surrounded by her husband, two daughters son in law and four grandsons. We all loved her and we all miss her. My Mum was the best mum in the whole world, just like my daughter is the best daughter in the whole world (to me).

Mum had gone into hospital on 1st April 2009 to have a replacement hip operation. Much consternation, consideration and consultation had gone into this decision, not to mention the extreme pain mum was suffering with the pain in her hip. The operation was successful, they used an epidural type of local anesthetic so mum was awake during the operation, which she didn’t seem to mind.

I returned to England from Taiwan on 6th April and went up to Knott End on 8th April, mum seemed happy but her ankles were swollen a lot, she was walking around, just. After almost two weeks in hospital they decided to move her to a Rehabilitation centre in Bispham. Mum made friends there as she had done in the hospital and was ok at first but as time went on her legs swelled even more and started to leak water out of the pores. However they allowed her to return home making her very happy. People came to visit and she had loads of cards and flowers.
Mum was getting fed up because she couldn’t really go out. We went to see the Dr. and he took some tests. I had arranged to return to my house in Reading to take my daughter to the airport and to meet my husband on his return to UK.
We were/are in the middle of moving out of our house and their was a lot to do. I returned on Wed 29th April and kept in touch with mum by phone. On Tues 12 May when I called, Dad answered and said they were taking mum into hospital as she was in terrible pain with her legs and couldn’t go to the toilet.
About 8:30pm Dad phoned me again to tell me the hospital had called and he was going to hospital as they didn’t give Mum long to live. This was a big shock to me, I told Dad to go around to Bernadette’s and I phoned B. By now Dave was throwing things into a suitcase while I called the hospital who told me mum’s heart was not strong and they didn’t expect her to survive the night. We left Reading at 9:30pm and got to the hospital in Blackpool at 1:30A.M. Thank God we were in time, I was still in shock and couldn’t believe mum was going to die. In the end mum’s breathing changed and she quietly slipped away.
Mum was born on 19th December 1922 and died on 13th May 2009. Mum is greatly missed.

Mum had Cellulitus in her legs and the cause of death was Congestive Cardiac Failure and Sepsis, Atrial Fibrillation.

I will write about her funeral n in the next blog.