26 October 2006

Boo Toronto!

I repeat, “Boo Toronto!” For many Ottawa residents, this becomes a familiar chant during the cooler months. That’s right folks, hockey season is back and guess who will be sitting in a corporate box for tonight’s game vs. the Leafs??? Meeeeee!

Sadly, I can’t take credit for these great seats…but my awesome husband can! One of the many perks of working in IT for a private company is that you can actually accept gifts from clients. Seeing as Dan recently purchased a whole whack of equipment from a vendor, they are rewarding him with highly sought-after tickets to tonight’s game. It is my unfortunate duty, as his wife, to accompany him to this evening of fully-catered / cushy bliss. Sometimes, I don’t know how I manage….

I’m hoping that I will be able to contain myself at tonight’s game. I tend to get…animated!?! Something tells me that I’ll have to refrain from my usual colourful language. I may have the advantage of anonymity among the other spectators in the box, but Dan actually has to do business with these people. Oh yes...I’ll smile sweetly and say all the right things, but on the inside I will be seething with my hatred for our opponents! "Boo Toronto!”

Cross your fingers, hope we slaughter them again!

25 October 2006

Happily married...and going places!

It’s official, Daniel and I are now “legally” married. We celebrated our second wedding this past Sunday. Technically, all we did was visit the Parish office to sign the certificate, but I’m still milking it for all its worth. It took all my willpower not to show up at church in my dress and veil. I thought it would be a good laugh, but Daniel assured me otherwise. I’m starting to think that I’m going through wedding withdrawal…I better sell the dress so that I’ll stop mooning over it anytime I pass by the spare closet.

With the wedding out of the way, Daniel and I have started to look towards the future and plan out our list of “things to do before we decide to have kids.” This isn’t a formal or written list per say - it was more of a wine-induced, philosophical discussion. These things tend to occur more, since returning from NOTL …wonder why?

Daniel and I both decided that we would like to take another vacation in the future. It was a simple idea with no concrete plans or stringent timelines. We would probably head south in the winter and stay at an all inclusive resort…fairly generic for many Canadians. Little did I know, only a week later, we would be booked on a 9-Day Southern Caribbean Cruise.

Spontaneous vacation plans seem to be a forte for Daniel and I. We toss different ideas around, then..WHAM…all of a sudden we are sitting in front of a travel agent booking something completely random. This is how we ended up going to Ireland two years ago. We were wandering through the mall and I noticed good deals on Irish vacations – one hour later we had an entire holiday booked.

Daniel and I had originally discussed cruising when we started planning for our honeymoon almost two years ago. We quickly decided against the idea, because the itineraries and prices did not work out. From that point onwards, we put the whole cruise notion out of our minds. Now, dear readers, fast forward to this past weekend…

Daniel and I were at my parents’ house for family dinner / birthday celebration for my brother’s girlfriend. As we were eating, my brother started talking about a cruise that they recently booked for March 2007. 9 days in the Southern Caribbean, huge boat, freestyle itinerary….sounds good to me! I jokingly threatened to book Dan and I on the same cruise, to which my brother surprisingly replied, “Why not? You should! It would be fun!” Hmm…why not indeed? After a quick review of our finances and swapping info with my bro, Daniel and I found ourselves booking a cruise.

In only 24 hours, I managed to book our cabins, separate flights, and a pre-cruise overnight stay in Miami (yet another snap decision). I honestly never thought we’d be taking a cruise, and I certainly never thought that that it would be with my brother and his girlfriend. I’m totally stoked now. This is going to be such an awesome vacation and it will be a nice chance for all of us to hang out and get to know one another in a different sense.

Only 156 days until we set sail…not that I’m counting yet…

20 October 2006

Here comes the bride...AGAIN!

I loved getting married; it was awesome. In fact, Daniel and I had so much fun that we decided to get married “again” on Sunday! Come to think of it, I’m not 100% sure that we are married right now…

Yesterday afternoon, Daniel received an urgent call from our parish church. Apparently, we didn’t sign the actual marriage certificate…only the register. Being new at this whole wedding thing, neither Dan nor I knew any better; we just signed whatever was given to us.

I wasn’t quite sure how to react to this news – somewhere on the verge on tears and laughter. The lovely receptionist tried to quell our fears by telling us that we are still married in the eyes of the church. As far as I understand, we just aren’t legally Mr. & Mrs. Who cares about those legally-binding contracts right?

Apparently, this mistake is not uncommon. Sometimes the officient will forget to have all the paperwork signed…not the end of the world really. All we have to do is go to the church and sign the certificate. At first I was a little irritated by this, but now I can see the humour in it.

I get to marry Daniel twice…sort of. We had a big public ceremony, and now we have a private one. This is a blessing in disguise, as I’ve been looking for an excuse to put the wedding gown back on. Can you imagine if we actually showed up in our finery? The image is priceless!

Perhaps Daniel and I can celebrate two anniversaries per year? There is a lot of merit to this idea…double the flowers, gifts and jewelry. Come to think of it, that’s an excellent idea! It is officially decided: September 23rd and October 22nd are the dates!

I best get back to work now. After all, it looks like I have another wedding to plan!

16 October 2006


Why must weekends fly by so quickly?!?

Surprisingly, my plans to relax worked out rather well. The bulk of my weekend was spent in pajamas, cheerfully loafing around the house. I did manage to get some house work done on Friday (still no laundry) but Saturday and Sunday were designated days of laziness.

One of my major accomplishments this weekend was assembling a wedding album with our professional photographs. While this isn’t a strenuous job, it does require a good deal of time and consideration. After sifting through 335 photos, I was finally able to select roughly 100 photos for printing.

Daniel and I decided to do something different rather than a conventional album. We didn’t want something that would sit in the basement collecting dust. Instead, we are having our photos professionally printed in a hardcover coffee table book. It’s more modern, takes up less space, and gives visitors something nice to look at.

Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for this idea. Once again, I was inspired by the wonderful and highly resourceful ladies of the Weddingbells online forum. For those you planning weddings, get onboard! Weddingbells.ca will put you in touch with an amazing network of women who are planning weddings, or have already been through the process. If it weren’t for this forum, I seriously doubt that my wedding would have as nice as it was. It’s an amazing pool of knowledge and ideas!

After reading some positive reviews, I decided to check out http://www.mypublisher.com/ This is an amazing site that allows you to download free album making software and order the final product online. I was truly impressed – simple to use, yet plenty of design options to satisfy personal taste. It didn’t take me long to come up with a funky 58-page wedding book…so much better than anything I could have scrapbooked. (I don’t have that kind of skill or patience). I’m very excited to receive the finished product. The great news – 50% all purchases over $100 until November! Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a different way to display photographs. I may do the same thing with the honeymoon shots…

Overall rating for this weekend, A+

We capped everything off yesterday, with a nice country drive and a visit to the Third World Bazaar in Manotick Station. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves eclectic international décor. I picked up a gorgeous mirror from Bali, along with some beautiful coral jewelry. If Dan hadn’t been with me, I probably would have come home with a box full of random stuff. I don’t think he’s keen on the mirror because it’s “different”; I adore it! I wanted to get an African mask, but that’s where he drew the line. (They scare him apparently?) I’m learning to pick my battles…

14 October 2006

Just chillin...

It’s Saturday morning…as you can guess all attempts to sleep in late have failed. It seems as though 8:00 am is the magic number; I can never make it past this point. In all fairness, I would have slept later if it hadn’t been for a phone call from my father-in-law….grumble, grumble. Oh well, I’ll take 8:00 am over 5:30 any day.

Right now Daniel is at his father’s place, helping him tear out a huge evergreen tree that is easily three stories high. I will be very relieved when this is over because I have horrifying visions of my new husband falling out of the tree, or getting crushed under the falling trunk….I know, I know…dramatic!

I am reluctant to start the day. I’m still in my jammies, sipping on hazelnut coffee and eating a chocolate chip bagel smothered in cream cheese… total gluttony! I’m going to see how long I can keep up this act before nagging guilt to do the laundry takes over. Either way, the house is close to spotless and I think the rest is well deserved.

I am currently sifting through 335 gorgeous wedding photos. Daniel and I got all the prints and digital negatives back from our photographer last week. I am immensely pleased with the result – the photos are gorgeous. Now comes the hard part…how to pick a favourite? I’m trying to select 30-50 of the best shots to put in an album or coffee table book. The task is not easy, as I love all the pictures. There are some gorgeous / dramatic posed shots, but I tend to the love the ones where Dan and I are hamming it up…to me this is more indicative of our relationship. I’m about as romantic as a bucket!

Hopefully I’ll make some headway with the album this morning. I am bound and determined to have these pictures ready to display soon, as people are driving me nuts! Everyone wants to see the pictures, but these things take time. Perhaps I’ll burn some images on to C.D.s and send copies to everyone in the wedding party?

Not too much else planned for today. This afternoon, I hope to check out the Third World Bazaar in Manotick. This is an annual event that takes place every fall for roughly 4-5 weekends. The concept is awesome! Each year volunteers travel to various third-world countries to buy handicrafts directly from artisans. They bring the items back to sell them at the Bazaar and proceeds / donations go towards various philanthropic organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières. It’s an amazing opportunity to pick up something funky and eclectic for the house, all for a good cause! For more info, check out the website: http://www.thirdworldbazaar.ca/

Other weekend picks… buy the latest Rachael Yamagata CD, grab a bottle of wine, sit back and enjoy. If you enjoy the likes of Norah Jones, Sarah Slean and other moody music, then you are certainly in for a treat! Amazing “chill” factor.

Just a sample of some pretty awesome lyrics – “I Want You”

You sat down next to me, like poetry to wine
Our window looked upon a yellow neon sign
I took your hand while you decided what to do
The only kiss, I ever miss, I shared with you
The other cities hold a memory still of a place
But, when I dream of London, I can only see your face

I want you
Or no one
No one else will do
You, or no one
No one is the only one
To fill the empty space I hold for you.
And on that sappy note, here's a few pics of the new Mr. and Mrs.

13 October 2006

Wine + Couch + T.V. = Happy

At long last, Friday has arrived. It’s lunchtime and I’m already counting the hours until I get to go home and relax…bar my plans to cook supper, clean the guinea pig and the bathrooms….

My overall goal for this evening is to be sitting in front of the TV by 8:00 p.m. I vow to drop whatever I am doing at that point and vegetate for the remainder of the night. For someone who does not know how to relax, this is a highly ambitious plan! I typically try to set these little goals for myself and always end up multitasking – i.e. Watching TV while exercising on the elliptical, ironing, sewing, and more recently, writing thank you card for wedding gifts. Tonight the hands shall remain idle; this is my promise to you dear readers!

Part of my Friday enthusiasm is also due, in part, to my recent discovery of a new television program. Normally I’m not one to get hooked on new shows, but I have fallen madly in love with “Men in Trees”. It’s nothing deep or perplexing – SCORE – with just the right amount of romance and quirky characters. Critics are calling it a mix of “Sex & The City” and “Northern Exposure”…not too far off the mark in my opinion. If you are looking for something light and airy with a few good laughs, I highly recommend it.

I also have to admit, the show has an additional draw. Introducing my guilty little Friday night pleasure:

12 October 2006

Two days until the weekend…not that I’m counting

Yet another rough morning in the Tomka residence. My intentions are always good; each night I set my alarm for 5:30am. Unfortunately, my body has a completely different notion of wakeup time. This morning it took three attempts before I was able to haul my sorry self out of bed. Sleep…such a lovely sounding word…

Now that the wedding is over I hope that Daniel and I can start to relax a little. Looking back over the past few months, it occurred to me that we haven’t had a full weekend to ourselves since we moved into the house. Perhaps this is why it has taken so long to finally feel at home in my new surroundings…I haven’t truly been able to enjoy them.

So far the lineup for this weekend is sounding perfect. A little house cleaning, decorating and maybe some art shopping. With the multitude of HBC cards we received for the wedding, I am positively itching to buy some new things for the house. A good trip to Home Sense is also in order. Poor Dan…not exactly his idea of fun…

In other news, Halloween in just around the corner! I am already brewing up some ghoulish ideas for the house and can’t wait to see how my creativity will snowball. For those of you who do not know me, I am an absolute Halloween fanatic! It is my favourite day of the year and I wait for it with childlike anticipation. I think my obsession has only gotten worse as I get older. The fact that I am a first-time homeowner does not help matters.

Dan is also a big child when it comes to this time of year. He shares my disturbing love for scaring the bejesus out of little children. He is one of those “mean” people who will sit as still as a statue, grotesque pumpkin of his head, lying in wait for his next young victim….so very amusing.

This year we will be hosting our very first Halloween party. We have already picked out our costumes and are now looking for spooky interior décor ideas. Something tells me that we’ll be fabricating a dead corpse this weekend. Last night I had a stroke of genius…why not suspend a body from our stairway so that it hangs in our atrium??? Classy! In my opinion there is no such thing as TACKY when it comes to Halloween décor. It’s the one day where you can act certifiably nuts and get away with it.

Perhaps some of my readers have some cool Halloween tips??? If so, please post!

10 October 2006

Another first

It’s Tuesday and I had to reluctantly drag myself out of bed this morning to make it into work. Current mood….exhausted, sick, yet happy.

Last night marked yet another first for Daniel and I. We are pleased to say that we pulled off a very successful Thanksgiving dinner for our families – 9 people in total.

The day started out on a shaky note as neither Dan nor I could figure out how to get the dman neck out of the turkey; this is when I wish I would have paid more attention to my mother’s cooking demos when I was a child! I had no problems pulling out the heart, liver and turkey butt (sorry, no other way to explain it), but I was stumped when it came to the neck. To make matters worse, the turkey still felt frozen on the inside…despite 2-3 days of thawing.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I had to put in a frantic call to my mother to seek her advice. Here is the even sadder part…she was over at the house within 10 minutes and it took her no more than 2 seconds to rip the neck off. Great! Just great!

Once the neck was removed from Mr. Gobbles, it was smooth sailing. I shook off my embarrassment and redeemed myself by cooking an awesome turkey. After a little basting, lots of butter, garlic and some poultry seasoning…things were clearly going much better. Between Daniel and I, we made enough food to feed an army. Once again, it seems that I am lacking in estimation skills.

All in all, it was a great evening. Loads of tasty food, happy bellies, and a ton of wine. I’m not quite sure how many bottles we killed…lets just say that we no longer have much left over from the honeymoon. No complaints here, it was nice to treat people to something a little different rather than the usual $8 staple of Jackson Triggs. Yes my dear readers…we have become impossible wine snobs.

Dinner was followed by the first official family viewing of our professional wedding photos. We are immensely pleased with the results and are still having a hard time picking our favourites. Luckily, we own all the original digital files and unmarked proofs, so I can do any enlargements myself at home. Maybe I’ll play around with some different editing effects too. I love photography and would be perfectly content if snapping photos all day or playing with Photoshop.

The rest of our weekend proved to be just as busy. On Saturday, I was a bridesmaid for my friend’s wedding at Beantown Ranch. It was a gorgeous day and the fall colours were at their best – a very cute and cozy country setting. It was quite the contrast to my urban wedding, but I thought it was beautiful and very appropriate for the time of year. The bride was radiant and I thoroughly enjoyed getting dolled up for the second time in less than a month. All in all, it was a fun night. I made a complete buffoon of myself by dancing the whole night like a wild woman…even with random strangers (Sorry Dan).

I have one mandate when I am in a wedding party: DANCE! I have been to countless weddings where bridal parties sit off on the sidelines chatting with their friends. This is terrible, because it doesn’t inspire other guests to get up and have a good time. The remedy is quite simple….slap on a happy face and boogie down. It’s amazing how others will get up and dance once they realize that they’re not alone. I have no problems breaking the ice, or pulling others onto the dance floor with me. Luckily, there were a good number of dancers at this wedding (kudos to Sandy the MC) so we were able to keep the tempo up all night. Very fun! I have no doubt that the relatives of the bride and groom think that I’m certifiably nuts. Who am I to argue?

So there you have it…my jam-packed weekend! I managed to survive it, but came out with yet another terrible cold. Plans for next weekend…RELAX! This will be the first opportunity to truly sleep in several weeks. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get to sleep until 8:00am! The possibilities are endless….

04 October 2006


Only one week into the marriage and I’m already biting off more than I can chew. Back in August, I ambitiously told both our families that I would cook Thanksgiving dinner this year. At the time, it seemed like a wonderful notion; the wedding would be over and I’d have more time on my hands…WRONG!

I failed to realize one important little detail, I’m exhausted! Sure the honeymoon was a nice break, but reality kicked in once we got home. The house is a mess, there’s tons of laundry to do, and I’ll be busy in another wedding this weekend. I’m not sure how I originally planned to fit in grocery shopping and turkey cooking. True to my word, however, I’m not backing down! For my bridal shower, my relatives equipped me with a roasting pan, baster and assorted bird cooking tools…either way I was destined to cook this meal.

Enter problem #2 – I don’t know the first thing about cooking a turkey! Sure I have a vague idea, but I have never actually done this before; Mom always took the reigns on this one. I’m worried that my own attempts won’t measure up. I’m not a bad cook per say, but I’m not one of those culinary geniuses either. My fears are also compounded by the fact that I’ll be cooking for 10 people. It will be the first official large family dinner of my married life.

Hopefully a trip to the local butcher will quell my fears. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll end up coming home with a huge monster of a turkey. I have never been good at estimating and always seem to err on the side of caution when cooking for larger groups. I inevitably end up making enough food to feed an army. We have a tiny kitchen and the fridge is already filled full of pies…don’t even ask me where I’m going to put the damn bird! As Scarlet O’Hara said, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

03 October 2006

Back to drudgery

The honeymoon is over and I reluctantly hauled myself into work this morning. Waking up at 5:45am was not a pretty sight. It always amazes me how quickly my body gets used to sleeping in a few extra hours. But alas…all good things must come to an end.

Our last day in Niagara-On-The-Lake was blissful. The sun finally made an appearance and we were able to take in a few more vineyards. On Sunday we decided to visit a smaller scale family estate winery - Reif. By this time, I’m sure that either Daniel or I could have given the tour, but it was still neat to see wine production in a smaller setting. The estate itself lacked the “castle-like” atmosphere of some of the larger wineries, but it did have a certain charming German flair to it. Oddly enough, this is where we ended up spending the most money…2 bottles of wine, a hand-painted terra cotta wine cooler and a funky cheese dome. I’m an absolute sucker for wine themed handicrafts. Can’t wait to entertain with these out on the table!

Following our tour at Reif, we decided that I wasn’t nearly drunk enough, so off we went to Inniskillin winery. This was probably one of my favourite places, due to the fact that the layout was conducive to exploring on your own. I particularly loved the huge wine tasting barn. We were fortunate enough to receive a free tasting voucher from our generous B&B hosts, so I partook in some more tasting. Three glasses of wine and 30 minutes later, I was well and truly drunk. I was surprised that the samples were poured quite liberally. Seeing as Daniel was driving, I also had his share of samples. I must have made a funny sight, weaving around the vineyards, tipsy as you please.

We decided to forgo any further tours or tasting session that afternoon; instead we merely dropped by other wineries to purchase a few bottles of vintages that we can’t get back home. The car was definitely heavier coming home! Our wine rack is bursting!

Our final afternoon in NOTL ended on a romantic note, with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and a late dinner and drinks at the Angel Inn. It was the perfect evening for our last night in town, cool, crisp and clear skies. I’ll miss the relaxing atmosphere, but will treasure the few days that Daniel and I had there. And now…it’s back to reality.

Getting home was a bit of a revelation. It’s only starting to hit me now…I’m married. Now that I have no wedding to plan, I can’t help but feel a little sad. Life is moving forward now and it’s on to the next stage.

01 October 2006

One more day in paradise

Technically, yesterday was supposed to be me and Daniel’s last day in NOTL. The original plan was to head back to Ottawa this morning, and give ourselves Monday to clean the house and get ready for work the next day. Instead, we decided to prolong our stay….to heck with housework for a change.

The past few days here have been very relaxing. Despite the fact that I am only in my twenties, I am already starting to make plans for my retirement here. Old period homes, huge trees, gorgeous flowers and sprawling vineyards - not too shabby in my books. It’s the kind of place that just makes my fingers itch to write.

On Friday, Daniel and I decided to stay in town and check out some of the wonderful shops. Actually, this was more my idea than Dan’s…I kind of just pulled him around. The husband and wife thing is working out great – haha! The shopping here is fantastic...sure it’s pricey, but there are so many little eclectic boutiques. It’s a good thing Dan was with me, otherwise there’s no telling what I would come home with.

Friday afternoon was a definite highlight of our time here. Both avid theatre lovers, our trip would not have been complete without a visit to the Shaw festival. We were fortunate to get decent last-minute tickets to “Arms and the Man”, a fabulous Bulgerian / Serbian wartime comedy written by George Bernard Shaw. The characters were wonderfully written and the performances were all the more memorable. The entire audience was in stitches for the full 120 minute play. The standing ovation was well deserved – it was one of the most enjoyable performances I have seen. Highly recommended for anyone visiting NOTL!

After the theatre, we ended off the evening at Tetley’s restaurant. This was a funky little basement dining room serving awesome cheese fondues. Very cozy and very yummy!

Then it was back to our cozy B&B for a seat on the verandah with a bottle of wine and some fresh bakery treats.

And now, here is Dan to tell you about day three in NOTL:

So while the shopping was a PILE of fun, we decided to hit some more wineries on day 3. For the first one, we went to Jackson-Triggs. We were told that it was a very modern facility, with not much “old-world charm” to it. However, we were also told that the tour was fantastic. So we went, and it was probably my favourite winery so far! It was a very new building, designed to look like an ultra-modern farmhouse. Everything was brand-new top-notch equipment, and the tour guide was probably the best we’ve had to date. I would definitely recommend Jackson-Triggs to anyone who goes to NOTL.

The other vineyard we saw was Peller Estates. This was another nice looking Estate-style winery, but the tour was a waste of money. We got to see the fields and the barrel cellar. Woo. If you go to Peller, just wander around the outside on your own, and save yourself the $5.

Two wineries was pretty much my limit, and Jenn was a bit drunk by that time, so we decided to do something that didn’t involve drinking for the rest of the afternoon. This region has two forts, Fort Erie and Fort George. Fort George was right near us, so we went to visit it. We got there right in time to see a musket demonstration, and then got a tour around the place. It was pretty neat, they had recently redone the place in the 40s, but it still looked very authentic. You could walk around the earthworks, and climb on the cannons, it was a good time.

We decided to book Monday off of work so that we could have an extra day to relax, or do with as we please. We were thinking of going through 1000 islands and staying a night there on the way home, but we instead decided to stay an extra night at NOTL, and see some more wineries. 1000 islands is fairly close to home compared to NOTL, so we decided to make the most of our trip out.

Jenn mentioned it yesterday, and when you look at it, this trip will probably cost us as much as a cruise. Ah well. I had a good time, and I’m glad we decided to come. We’ll cruise some other time. --Dan