January Respite

Posted on February 02 2018

There's always a niggling guilt that comes with my perennial desire to take January "off". To hog it all to myself, just slightly rationalized by the excuse that it is, after all, my birthday month. But guilt be damned, that is exactly what I did this January. I took it off from the usual routine of life and commitments. I wanted very little in the way of noise, obligations or company. Instead, I spent hours on my computer, working through the past year to make my Year in Review book, have you taken a gander? I organized and backed up photos, cleaned out old internet bookmarks, deleted outdated emails, went through all my paper files and did away with anything that was ancient or irrelevant. I spent my time reflecting on the last year and clearing space for the year ahead. It was such a shift from the busy, chaotic work and revelry of December and though I feel a bit bad for my lack of productivity and sociability, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have all that time to myself. Oh and I started learning Spanish too! 

That said, I have some photos from a few, rare moments where I wondered beyond my seat in front of the computer...

We usually have a backyard wiener roast with neighbours on New Year's Eve and we burn our regrets from the year to clear the slate, but it was so cold on the 31st (-40C with the windchill) that we only went out briefly for the regrets part. So when the weather broke and it warmed up in early January, we decided on a redo with a fire and bratwurst roast. I think the fire at night in the winter was a first for us and it was surprisingly fun and cozy! Maybe I'm tapping into something primeval here?

During the warm up, I made it down to my happy place for some early morning walks -

I also left the house to take Mickey to the vet for his yearly vaccines. Last year, the animal adoption society who I got him from, had prescheduled his shots at a different vet and when I took him there, I waited in the lobby while they brought him into the back to give him his vaccines so I wasn't sure how well he deals with these encounters. Though he had been to my vet last summer because of an ear infection and seemed okay about the ordeal considering the vet kept shoving a giant q-tip in his ear and then dropping cold liquid down it, this time around, he was a different patient! He freaked right out as soon as the vet even touched his skin where she was going to give him the needles. It was so intense that we had to get an assistant to help hold him. :/ But here's the strange thing, the second the vet left the room to grab something, Mickey jumped down onto the ground and started sniffing and rolling around in pure pleasure from all the pheromones of the other animals that had come before him. Such a strange cat I have.

Chris' sister Pam threw the annual January Babies Birthday Party, which along with myself, also includes her husband and one of their closest friends, Andrea. We enjoyed a huge feast compliments of Pam (she is a gem) and the boys played music into the wee hours.  

I received a text from my friend Skye, who lives in Vancouver, wanting to fly in to see me for my birthday! We had a wonderful time, spending almost all of it in a "foodie" coma. The weather was reasonable when she first arrived so we had a backyard fire and a bratwurst roast. The next day she made eggs benny (my favourite) for my birthday! It was the best - 

And the following day, we went for dim sum to one of the only places in town that serves soup dumplings. It was so good that we decided to try to make our own - 

If you're unfamiliar with soup dumplings, basically its a dumpling that contains ground pork, ginger, garlic and a scallion filling as well as a delicious soup so when you bite into it, it's like a rich explosion of juice and meat in your mouth (behave). Sounds amazing right?! The question is, "how do you get the soup inside the dumpling?". The trick is to make the soup and add gelatine to it. Let it set and then cut the firmed up soup into tiny squares that you mix with the filling before stuffing into the wrap and closing. Once you steam them, the soup melts into a liquid again, flavours the pork filling and voila, you have soup inside a dumpling!

Our dumplings were incredible and we enjoyed trying out a new recipe, but for the amount of work involved, I think next time I'll just order the soup dumplings from  Shanghai 456, for $7.95 (I feel the same way about perogies and lasagna ;). By the way, we were impressed with all the food we had at Shanghai 456 including their house special - deep fried chicken - wow!

Skye also gave me a beautiful box of chocolates from an award winning chocolatier in Vancouver called Gem Chocolates. These were almost too pretty to eat, but I managed :) and the flavours were unique and worked so well together. I particularly liked the chai chocolate mouse and beet root caramels. I see they have a ghost chili caramel on their website too, which would make a great stocking stuffer for Chris this Christmas. If you're a fan of gourmet chocolates or want to send a special gift to someone, you can't go wrong with a box of these.  

I also went for lunch to Branches out at Greenland's with my birthday buddy, Stacey. I think we're going to make this an annual tradition. It's so nice to go for lunch in a greenhouse in the winter and they have fountains running while you dine, oh my! Stacey gave me this lovely orchid to add to my collection - 

And finally, we did go out for a birthday dinner. Chris and I went with some friends to another Escape room downtown, which we didn't make it out of in time - doh! Afterwards, we headed to the Confederation Lounge at Hotel Mac for dinner and margaritas. It's such a comfortable, warm place to enjoy on a blustery night, cheers!

I hope you had a warm and cozy January and took a little time out for yourself.



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