Archive / July, 2011

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot…

No two ways about it — Toronto is stinkin’ HOT today.

But it wasn’t all that long ago, that this is what greeted us when we stepped out of doors.

So let’s remember that when we start griping about the heat. Granted, 38°C & a 49°C humidex (that’s 100°F with a 120°F humidex for you Americans out there) is a bit excessive for the Great White North. I’ll give you that. And I do, sincerely, feel for you if you work outside or don’t have air conditioning.

But it is temporary. And we’ll all be crying into our toques & mukluks soon enough about the snow and the minus 20°C temps.

Besides, sometimes good – or, at least, entertaining – things come from weather this scorching hot. The TTC might have been sticky & gross, but there was no shortage of  Summer-in-the-City diversions to watch along the way home tonight.

I wish I’d been quick enough on the draw to capture a photo of the ballsy (heh) lad on Queen Street who decided to simply throw propriety to the wayside and strip to his knickers for his walk home.

Ordinarily, in this sort of heatwave, you’d think that this young lady would be raking in the cash hand over fist.

Ordinarily she would. However, just a few blocks back, Little Miss Lemonade was trumped by a girl with a sassy short skirt. Okay,  the fact that said girl in said sassy short skirt was also handing out free beer might have weighted her hand just a bit. But seriously. Free beer. FREE. She was simply asking for ID, and then handing it out for free. FREE beer. Welcome to Canada, eh?

Stay cool!

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Anniversary Rock Star Cupcakes

Two of my lovelies celebrated an anniversary of sorts this weekend – the first anniversary of their band, Arizona Lily. In honour of the occasion, a small gathering of a few friends and  more than a few cocktails was held Chez Murdoch where a good time was had by all.

In addition to  a couple of bottles of cheer, I decided I wanted to contribute some sugar & chocolate to the mix and came up with a pretty tasty concoction, if I do say so myself.

More than one of these pretties, however, will most likely throw you into a diabetic coma… so tread lightly, if you do decide to try out this recipe. These are neither calories-wise nor fat free. I make no apologies.

Mocha Rock Star Cupcakes with Buttery Bailey’s Coffee Icing

Ingredients
1 C strong black coffee (or 2 tbsp. instant coffee + 1 C warm water)
½ C (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 C granulated sugar
4 eggs
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 tbsp.  pure vanilla extract
1 C all-purpose flour + 1 C whole wheat all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp.  salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Line standard muffin pan with baking cups (recipe makes 24)
  • If you keep such a thing in your home (blargh) combine instant coffee and water; mix well and set aside.
  • In large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time; mix well.
  • Add melted chocolate  (there are a few ways to melt chocolate; I prefer the microwave method), vanilla and coffee mixture; mix well.
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in separate bowl.
  • Slowly add to butter mixture; mix well.
  • Spoon into baking cups.
  • Bake 18-20 minutes or until center of cupcake springs back when lightly touched.
  • Cool cupcakes in pan on cooling rack 5-8 minutes.
  • Remove from pan; cool completely before icing.


Icing

3.5 C confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 C butter or margarine, softened
2 tbsp. strong brewed coffee
1 tbsp. Coffee Flavoured Bailey’s

In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners sugar and cocoa powder. In another bowl, beat the butter until creamy, gradually beat in the sugar mixture, being sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl, occasionally. Finally stir in the coffee, and beat until smooth.

Decorate as you please!

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Weezie’s Reading Roundup: May & June 2011

Back in March, I had every intention in the world to spend my summer lazing about, filling my free time with stacks of fabulous books & bottles of delicious vintages. And, like most people, it always seems to slip my mind that I still work for a living and that free time is at a premium (read: it hardly exists); factor in spotty weather & long weekend gridlock and you end up with an incredibly messy calendar with very little white space.

Alas, those hours lazing about with a glass of Merlot & a good read don’t seem to be happening so far, this year. Or, at least, they’re not happening as often as I’d like.

 

If You Were Here: A Novel
By Jen Lancaster
Signet (TRD)/Penguin Group US

I must admit that when it comes to Jen Lancaster, I have more than a bit of a fan-girl crush.  I mean, out of her five memoirs, I’ve read three… and, considering I don’t even read celebrity memoirs (never mind non-celebrity ones), that’s pretty telling.  What can I say, though? I really do admire her indefatigable snark. That, and her penchant for all things ’80s (particularly her love for the late, great John Hughes. ) Either way, I feel an affinity for her work. And I knew, as soon as it was announced that she was working on a novel, I’d be lined up to grab my copy as soon as it hit shelves. If You Were Here (taken from the Thompson Twins song of the same name that plays during that oh-so awesome scene at the end of  Sixteen Candles; you know the one: Molly Ringwald, Michael Schoeffling, angsty teen smoochies over a birthday cake) is funny, acerbic & smart-assy. And, if I didn’t know it was a piece of fiction, I could easily imagine the author and her husband as the two main characters. Flaws & all, they make blundering into (shudder) Suburbia entertaining. This is as good a piece of chick lit (yes, I know the PC term is now Women’s Fiction) as you’re bound to run into this summer. So do yourself a favour and just let it happen. Yep. My fan-girl crush still stands.  The funny thing is, had we met during the 80s, Jen Lancaster & I would have been on polar opposite sides of the school cafeteria. Now? Now I want to drink wine with her and mock others’ unfortunate fashion decisions.

 

The Little Giant Of Aberdeen County
By Tiffany Baker
Grand Central Publishing

I happened upon this book quite by accident one day while browsing around Amazon.ca (incidentally, is it too late to buy shares in this company? Given the frequency with which I send them money, I’m pretty sure I must already own a few.) Other than the jacket blurb, I knew absolutely nothing about this novel. It simply sounded like an interesting read, so I tossed it in the ol’ virtual shopping cart. I’m SO glad I did. This is, officially, my newest favourite and I’m telling everyone who’ll listen to grab a copy and start reading; I’ve even forced my own copy onto unsuspecting friends. Truly Plaice is a young girl born in the early ’50s with Acromegaly (a disorder of the pituitary gland that produces excess growth hormone & causes symptoms associated with – for lack of a better term – gigantism) who is dubbed “a giant” by a bitter & unthinking teacher. With an older, beautiful, princess-like sister to whom she is continuously compared, the novel follows Truly’s tragedies & triumphs as she struggles to fit in, both literally & figuratively. But Tiffany Baker hasn’t just given us a hero to laud because we feel sorry for her. Quite the contrary – we have a hero because she’s so very human.  No one person is ever entirely ugly. No one person is ever entirely beautiful. We all have moments of both –  inside & out.

 

Haven
By Justin Kemppainen
Smashwords

I really love that there is a community of impassioned writers out there willing to risk it all, self-publish & then offer up their work to the public for free. And I had really high hopes for this novel. I really did. With a futuristic storyline drawing influence from the likes of Philip K. Dick and Margaret Atwood, I wanted to like it. I really did. And maybe, with an editor, this might have been a fabulous read. Unfortunately, it appears that the services of an editor were never involved. At least, I certainly hope they weren’t.

 

The Picture Of Dorian Gray
By Oscar Wilde
Gutenberg

Oh, Oscar, how I love thee and the magical things you do with words (I mean, how can you not love a man responsible for gems like: “The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history” or “Nothing makes one so vain as being told one is a sinner.” )  Hooray for another wonderful It-Came-Free-With-My-Kobo read! I’d originally discovered this, for the first time, back in high school. It started a life-long adoration for almost any sentence strung together by Oscar Wilde. Now, 25+ years later (good CHRIST, how did that happen?!), I still love this story. We all know the tale: a beautiful young man playfully wishes that he forever remain young & unmarred, while the painting that captured said visage begins to age & wither with each new morally corrupt act he perpetrates. But which came first: did he begin to explore the life of the debauched hedonist because he realized the painting would bear the marks of his sin? Or did the painting begin exhibiting his corrupt soul after his descent had already begun? Be careful what you wish for.

 

Anyone else wish they could spend more summer hours reading?

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