Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Shoes

This is a cute blog called Falling Off a High-Heeled Life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recipes - Beef Heart

My mother would make beef heart with a bread stuffing. This is an interesting take on that.
A friend had bought part of a cow and offered me the heart as they butcher just throws it in for free.
It was in two pieces so I cooked the first piece cut up with onions and peppers over rice. The second piece I will cook as follows.

I found  The Austerity blog which is a fascinating study in food over the years.

Beef heart with mushroom stuffing

Mushroom Stuffing: 10 slices bacon, diced

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 (4-ounce) cans sliced mushrooms, drained

Beef Heart:

1 beef heart (about 3 pounds, split lengthwise)

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup oil and vinegar style salad dressing

1 cup beef broth (or 1 cup water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon beef base)

1. To prepare stuffing, fry bacon, onion and mushrooms in large skillet until onion is softened. Drain grease and set mixture aside to cool.

2. Wash heart. Trim fat and remove arteries and soak in cold salted water for half hour. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Fill heart cavity with mushroom stuffing. Skewer or sew with string to fasten. Place in crock-pot. Add garlic, salad dressing and beef broth. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour, then on LOW for 7 to 9 hours. Thicken gravy before serving if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bathroom Reno Update

It's day 11 of the reno. Hard to believe that one tiny bathroom would take this long, but he is working on his own and is a perfectionist about his work.
Some new photos:
New piping

 Found behind the walls

Tiles behind the walls - pre-us

New potlights

 New tiles

A chance to do some shopping

New Recipes to Try

Mini-yorkshire-puddings-with-beef sounds like an awesome idea.

Pan seared steak rolls from Steamy Kitchen look like a great way to cook flank steak, a fave of mine.

Spiced-carrot-cake-with-orange-cream I'm always looking for an interesting carrot cake and this one includes pineapple.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week 16 - Decluttering

We are still in bathroom reno chaos so not a lot of decluttering got done.

Sunday April 17 - The old mirror from the bathroom got reused as the contractor saved it for me and I have put it in the bathroom downstairs. I will add some red paint to it to match the other items in the laundry room.
This was a very considerate thought on his part as I was just thinking about going out to buy one for that room. So not an item decluttered but rather repurposed and avoided a needless purchase.
Monday -

Tuesday - took some magazines from the rack to go through on the subway, one from from Winter 2009. These were put into the recycling.

Wednesday -

Thursday -

Friday - Continued decluttering my email box, every day I remove some more junk mail.

Saturday - Another shower curtain from the bathroom reno. I won't need shower curtains as we are having glass doors installed.

So all in all not a great week but will get back on track!

Russia - 13 Day Cruise Itinerary

We arrive a couple of days early to enjoy Moscow and then join the group on "Day 2" as day 1 is their travel day.
Map of

DAY 2, Tuesday - Arrive in Moscow

Arrive and transfer to your ship for embarkation. The port is approximately a 2 hour drive from the Moscow airport. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure.
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Dinner

DAY 3, Wednesday - Moscow City Tour, Kremlin Tour

Enjoy a panoramic city tour of Moscow, the fabled capital of Russia. Traveling by coach, view the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the Novodevichy or “New Maiden” convent, the former headquarters of the KGB, and many more historical sites. Explore Red Square, the most famous city square in Russia and visit GUM, a large department store that could easily be confused with a palace. This afternoon, continue on a tour of the Kremlin. Venture inside this former residence of the Russian czars on a guided walking tour. See the famous Czar Cannon, the 16th century Czar Bell, and Cathedral Square, home to three of Moscow's most elaborate cathedrals: the Cathedral of Assumption, the Cathedral of Annunciation, and the Cathedral of the Archangel. Enjoy time at leisure to explore the Kremlin grounds on your own before returning to the ship.
Optional: Kostroma National Folk Show (PM)*
Optional: Moscow Circus Performance (PM)*
Optional: Moscow by Night (PM)  PURCHASED
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4, Thursday - Day at Leisure in Moscow
Enjoy a day of leisure in Moscow
Optional: Tretyakov Gallery (AM)**
Optional: Excursion to Sergiev Posad (AM)**
Optional: Moscow Novodevichy Convent (AM)** PURCHASED
Optional: Moscow Small Boats Tour (AM)**
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5, Friday - Uglich City Tour

This afternoon, arrive in Uglich, one of Russia's oldest cities. Famous in Russian history for the dynastic crisis known as the Time of Troubles, which followed the suspicious death of Prince Dimitry (Ivan the Terrible's youngest son), Uglich is a popular stop when sailing the Volga due to its historic architecture and charm. Enjoy a tour of the city, including visits to the Transfiguration Cathedral and the Church of Prince Dimitry. This evening, enjoy dinner and the night at leisure on board.
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6, Saturday - Yaroslavl City Tour

Arrive this morning in Yaroslavl, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy a tour of this historic city, one among many in Russia's famous Golden Ring. The tour includes sites such as the Church of St. Elijah the Prophet and a visit to the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. You will also have the opportunity to explore a local market. Dinner on board this evening.
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7, Sunday - Monastery of St. Cyril

Arrive in Goritsy, an old Russian town of rich historical and cultural heritage. Today, visit the Monastery of St. Cyril, one of Russia's largest monasteries. Established in 1397 on the bank of Lake Siverskoye, the monastery of St. Cyril was once home to the largest monastery church in Northern Russia, the Assumption cathedral, which still stands today. The monastery's fortifying walls, which measure 2400-feet-long and 22 feet thick, are an impressive sight, home to several towers including the Chasuble, the Vologda, and the Tent-like. Sail this afternoon for the island of Kizhi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Optional: Vodka & Blini Tasting Party (PM) PURCHASED
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8, Monday - Open Air Museum

This morning, arrive in Kizhi, a small island featuring one of the most impressive wooden structures ever erected, the Kizhi Church of Transfiguration. The Church is the island's most famous architectural landmark and largely responsible for making Kizhi one of the most frequented tourist attractions in Russia. It features 22 cupolas of striking intricacy and was built without using a single nail. Visit the Church and Open Air Wooden Architecture Museum. Enjoy dinner and the evening at leisure on board .
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9, Tuesday - Daylight Sailing

Enjoy daylight sailing and the morning at leisure on board. Stop in the romantic village of Mandrogi, whose name literally means "pine-trees on the bog," to enjoy time at leisure to explore the city. Rejoin the ship and continue sailing for St. Petersburg. This evening, celebrate your final night sailing at a farewell dinner and gala talent show
.Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10, Wednesday - St. Petersburg City Tour

Enjoy a morning city tour of St. Petersburg. This panoramic tour takes you to Palace Square, St. Isaac's Cathedral and Square, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and many more sights along the way. In the afternoon visit the famous museum, the Hermitage, home to one of the largest and richest collections of Western art in the world. Among the museum's vast collection, which spans six buildings (the most famous being the Winter Palace), priceless works by artists such as Michelangelo, da Vinci, Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many others are displayed amid opulent architectural design. This evening, enjoy dinner and the night at leisure on board.
Optional: St. Petersburg Folk Show (PM) PURCHASED
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11, Thursday - Day at Leisure in St. Petersburg
Today is free at leisure to explore St. Petersburg on your own
Optional: Pushkin & Pavlovsk Palace & Park (AM) PURCHASED
Optional: Ballet Performance (PM)
Optional: St. Petersburg by Night (PM)
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12, Friday - Peterhof Park Tour

This morning, travel to Peterhof, located southwest of St. Petersburg, overlooking the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. You will have an opportunity to view the series of palaces and gardens, laid out on the orders of Peter the Great, and sometimes called the "Russian Versailles." Your tour includes a guided visit to the Lower Park and an outside view of the Palace. This evening, celebrate your final night abroad while dining onboard
Optional: Rivers & Canals in St. Petersburg (PM) PURCHASED
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13, Saturday - We have added a couple of extra days in St. Petersburg.
Meals: Breakfast

* The Kostroma National Folk Show and the Moscow Circus Performance will operate simultaneously.

** The Tretyakov Gallery, the Excursion to Sergiev Posad, the Moscow Novodevichy Convent and the Moscow Small Boats Tour will operate simultaneously.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Getting Ready for Russia - 14 Days To Go!

Weather -

Currency - Rule of thumb $1 CAD = 30 RUB
So 3900 RUB = $134

Time - 8 hour time difference. So if it is 3PM in Toronto it is 11PM in Moscow.

Dialing from Toronto to Moscow
Result, dial: 011 7 495 X
How the number is composed
011 011 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of Canada.
7 7 is the international code used to dial to Russia.
495 There are multiple city/area codes in use for Moscow. If 495 does not work, you may try the others. The area codes used are: 495/499.
X Exchange X with your number

Moscow - we will be staying at the Moscow Marriott Grand Hotel. It is about 18 miles from the airport and the tour company will pick us up.

Moscow Hotel is in the central Moscow location on Tverskaya Street near Red Square, the Kremlin and the Bolshoi Theatre. The building was designed by Alexander Loktev – famous Moscow architect.
The Grand Alexander Restaurant - Named after Russian's beloved poet, Alexander Pushkin, the Grand Alexander has been acclaimed as one of the Moscow's premier European cuisine dining rooms.

Marriott Grand Hotel Spacious Lobby
Moscow Marriott Tverskaya Hotel
34 1st Tverskaya - Yamskaya
Moscow, 125047 Russian Federation
Phone:7 495 258 3000
Fax:7 495 258 3099
High-Speed Internet
Public Areas: Wireless
Guest Rooms: Wired, Wireless

In St. Petersburg we will be staying at
Holiday Inn
Hotel Front Desk: 7-812-4487171 Hotel Fax: 7-812-4487172
High-speed Internet Access
Hotel is a 20-minute taxi ride from Pulkovo Airport in a peaceful central St. Petersburg district. Speedy subway trains link Holiday Inn St. Petersburg-Moskovskye Vorota to the city centre in just 10 minutes.

It's 4 stops from nearby Moskovskye Vorota station to the Hermitage art museum on the Neva River.

Saturday Shoes

Taken on the subway on Wednesday with my blackberry. My favourite colour, but I am so tired of rain this week and the bloody cold!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Recipes - Halloumi Cheese

Ever since we attended a private cooking class by Christine Cushing in February where she featured a recipe using halloumi cheese I have been coming across it everywhere.
Christine made a salad using the cheese as croutons and it was awesome. Here is her recipe.

In this blog cheese on the grill is made using halloumi cheese. Christine had also mentioned grilling halloumi.

Sunday Dinner

A new recipe that we tried last Sunday. Some minor changes I made, doubled the recipe and poured most of it on the chicken when it went into the oven.
The amount of sugar scared me, so I cut it back a little.


1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 skinless chicken thighs


1.In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.

2.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

3.Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Brush chicken with the sauce. Turn pieces over, and brush again.

4.Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn pieces over, and bake for another 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking.

The results: It was good, not great, could use some more garlic and perhaps some chili sauce. I will try it again and made some modifications.

Books and Bookshops - A Disturbing Article

The Guardian published this disturbing article about books and bookshops being a vanishing breed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Books - Joseph O'Connor

I am so excited that one of my favourite Irish writers has a new book Ghost Light out. This is a really good interview with him.
This sentence from the interview really rang bells with me as it is exactly how I often feel.
"I’ve had a lovely week, really," Joseph tells me in typically understated style. "But being Irish and originally Catholic, I’m sure something awful will happen to me next week," he laughs.

I first read O'Connor when I bought Star of the Sea in Dublin a few years ago and then bought Redemption Falls.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday's Words

When I was cleaning up the bookcase on Saturday I came across this book that we bought either in Tennessee or Illinois.  I'm not sure why I bought it but it didn't make it into the discard pile as yet.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 15 - Decluttering

Some inspirational blogs I found this week discussing decluttering.

Ask yourself to buy less crap

365 Less Things

I really need to keep this Calm down mini-mission in mind.

Organized blog

A great article to inspire me to sell on Craig's list.

Sunday April 10 - this was a big day for decluttering. DH went through the top drawer on porch (I had done an initial clean last week) and he threw out/tidied up his bits.
They are supposed to be coming to do the bathroom reno this week so I started on the drawers and closet in there. What a job, suffice it to say, there were many items thrown out or designated for charity. I didn't finish it today, will have to go back to it.
DH also went through his collection of ball caps and parted with some of them. This photo is a general round up of the various stuff.

While making dinner, I needed some beef broth so I went to our pantry in the basement. I found two boxes with Best Before of 2008 and one with 2009. While they may have been ok I really prefer not to take any chances, so they were thrown out.

Ordered new mail box - old one is falling apart.Pine Hill Woodcrafts. His ears have broken off but I ordered the same one! The kids on the street are always mesmerized when they first see it.
Mailbox will be either recycled or discarded.

Monday - sunglasses went into charity pile. Also a book donated.

Tuesday - some old papers

Wednesday - "free" monthly magazines from local museums we are members of.

Thursday - DH listed some golf clubs online for sale.

Friday - bathroom reno ongoing. Shower curtains to a friend. Liner to charity pile.
Two computer books, one to go into the office and the other will be part of the huge Photoshop offer I will be selling.

Saturday - nothing like renos to get you motivated. Since most of house is under dust attack I took the time to declutter (again) the computer room bookcase and cabinet. Most stuff discarded, this gets easier and easier. Everything got moved and dusted.
Georgia O'Keefe calendar I will bring to a friend. Threw out some travel brochures and some books went into the charity pile.
Some things just made it back to their rightful homes.
Some old "store" cards were cut up.
Cleaned up my scrapbboking folder on computer.
Updated "house" spreadsheet.

Also got some administrivia decluttering done. This falls under TO DO list that pecks away at the back of my mind, the stuff that needs to get done.

Have been removing myself from email newsletters as I receive them this week. I have easily "unsubscribed" from  at least twenty so far.

Checked AMEX bill against tour company invoice. DONE

Made list of household chores to be organized. DONE

Tree specialist - DH called and got an estimate. Now to be scheduled.

Railings -

Windows - cleaning and fixing screens

Painting - book for 2 rooms, new bathroom and hallway.

Set up Craigslist account

Investigate stock photography and open some accounts - did some reading this week on subject. Set up account at Bigstock and iStock. DONE

Find a calendar screensaver to we could both update - DONE

Follow up on Kijiji coupon for junk removal - DONE

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bathroom Reno - Finally

Finally have everyone's schedules coordinated and they started demolishing the bathroom upstairs.

I forgot to take some photos when it was still "decorated", I took these once we had removed all the pictures and fancy towels out!

This is what I came home to last night.

Remnants of old turquoise tub from when we moved in. We had Bath Fitters cover it many years ago and didn't think I'd ever see it to get a photo!

Today they are removing all the stuff and getting ready to start the plumbing. Some minor adjustments have to made to the plan as the sink I selected

By the end of the day this was much fuller.

The rad may be replaced by a heated floor, the contractor called today to see if I liked that idea. I said yes, as it had been on my original wish list.
 We're gaining inches as the walls are demolished. Obviously someone had built new wall over this charming tile from well before our purchase of the house!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Week 14 - Decluttering

Sunday April 3 - back home from Myrtle Beach. Cleaned out odds and sorts from the fridge.

Monday - 2 sweaters and a dressing gown.

Tuesday - another sweater that DH doesn't like.

Wednesday - 2 "free" passport cases received when we had our photos taken for our visas.

Thursday - Did a quick sorting through of my closet, had to make room for the Myrtle Beach shopping. Out into the charity pile went a black hat from a wedding seven years ago and a purse. Also a jacket that I bought in Ireland but never really fit properly.

Friday - Cleaned out the cabinet on the porch where winter mitts, boots etc are stored. The top drawer contained candles for "just in case". 4 of those went into the charity pile. Various bits of paper and miscellaneous nuts and bolts went into garbage. The old car mats were piled in a corner and they are going into the garbage as well.

Saturday - cleaned out the bench in the hall, a catchall of various plastic bags etc. The art work is mine.
The plastic bags went into the pile for garbage. Several used batteries will be put in the proper recycling bin downtown, mini flashlight into charity pile.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thirsty Thursday - Myrtle Beach

Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach is an amazing tourist spot full of shops and restaurants.

We stepped into Liberty to check it out.