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October 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Duchess of the Hill @ 7:20 pm

After reading this post on Blissful and Domestic I have decided to try her methods for grocery shopping.

Saving money is a definite plus, but what I really want is to gain time and eat out much, much, much less.

So yesterday, I spent about an hour and a half making a meal plan and grocery list for the next two weeks (including a few meals for Sean to make), then about 3 hours picking everything we need up (Costco, Loblaws and the TnT Asian Grocery) and finally about an hour trying to organize the fridge, freezer and cupboards to hold all the food. Yes – a big time investment on a Saturday, but I’m super excited looking ahead to what we’ll be eating for the next couple weeks and all the time saved not making sporadic trips to the grocery store.

Here’s what’s on the menu for the next two weeks:

Week 1:

  • Saturday: Steak (cooked by Sean), shaved zucchini with goat cheese and pine nuts, sesame fried enoki, hubbard squash mash
  • Sunday Lunch:  Chicken Tortilla SoupMade this already and Sean said it was his new favourite soup (until I reminded him of my Leek and Potato soup) after which he said it was now is second favourite. And we have leftovers for our lunches tomorrow.
  • Sunday Dinner: Sesame Ginger Tuna for Sean and Sesame Ginger Marlin for me (being prepared by Sean as I write this post)
  • Tuesday: Lamb burgers (prepared by Sean)
  • Wednesday: Laksa with beef
  • Thursday: Shrimp Saganaki with Sean’s Dad’s rice and string beans
  • Saturday:  We are meeting friends at noon and potluck for dinner. Haven’t figured this one out yet so might have to make a mini trip shopping trip.

Week 2:

  • Monday:  Butternut squash lasagna
  • Tuesday: Cornish Hen (prepared by Sean)
  • Friday: Lamb (prepared by Sean)
  • Saturday: Shopping day again!!

I spent about $350 on groceries, but what was purchased exceeds what we need – a lot went into the freezer and will be used in future weeks.


More Mumsey than Sex in the City April 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Duchess of the Hill @ 2:25 pm

With my tresses started to become quite unruly it was time to find an Ottawa hairdresser.   I booked an appointment with Boss Arts on Laurier Ave West.  They were recommended to me by a friend and what made them particularly appealing is that they offered a consultation and cut geared specifically to people with curly hair.  My hair is more frizzy and wavy than curly, but I thought I’d give it a go.

Ready for a change, I gave the stylist free reign.  After considering my face shape, what I like about my hair at the moment and what I want to change, she suggested going for a Sarah Jessica Parker / Sex in the City curly bob.

I came out with a shorter mane, and hair that is much, much more curly than I thought possible.  But…  well…   I think I need three kids, a minivan and a cardigan with food remnants stuck to it to really pull this look off (none of which I hope to have in the very near future).   Despite this, I am a huge fan of the stylist, who definitely knew what she was doing and took the time to really explain to me how to take care of the style and will be going back to Boss Arts once this cut grows out a bit.

This is the look I think we were meant to be going for

My Result


An Easter Memory April 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Duchess of the Hill @ 8:47 pm

The recent Easter holiday reminded me of one of my childhood experiences.  It has nothing to do with settling into Ottawa, but I thought I’d share it just the same.

My parents have a cottage on Caribou Island, Nova Scotia .  It is a secluded spot with a thick forest, and there are only a few cottages within the ½ km strip.

Mom and Dad’s cottage is at the beginning of this strip and my aunt and uncle have a cottage at the end of the strip.  It is a safe area and even when I was very young, neither my parents nor I had any concerns about me walking down the wooded path on my own to visit my Aunt Bev and Uncle Rick.  One summer day when I was seven I was doing just that.  It was a sunny day, birds were singing, and it was great to be off on my own without a care in the world!

I skipped away from the cottage and rounded a bend in the path that marked the halfway point between my parent’s cottage and my aunt and uncle’s.  I was in for a shock.

Right in the middle of the path was a gruesome sight – a severed leg, cut right at the hip.  (Thankfully no other body parts were in sight).  I stood frozen in frightened disbelief. Before I go any further, I should mention this was a rabbit leg, and not a human leg, but when you are eight and still believe in the Easter Bunny a rabbit leg is just as horrifying.  Terrified by the sight of the leg and the thought of who or what could have possibly done this, I bolted screaming and crying all the way back to my parents.

I wasn’t met with the sympathetic and comforting ear I expected.  After a short discussion mom and dad firmly said that I had to go back.  I begged them not to make me go or for them at least to come with me, but they insisted that I had to confront my fears – on my own.  I made such a scene that I was sent to my room and told to stay there until I was ready to go back.  Of course, that didn’t last long.  My plan was to walk a little way down the path and then just wait there for long enough that mom and dad would think that I had already gone to my aunt’s and come back without ever walking by the leg.  However, mom was wise enough to call my aunt and tell her to expect me.  There was no escape.

Walking down the path for the second time, I approached the place where I saw the leg and grew more and more nervous.  I considered whether I should cut through the woods to avoid it completely, or run by with my eyes closed.  But then I saw something was different.  The leg was still there, just as it had been before, but on the left side of it was a napkin, with a fork neatly laid on top, and a knife on the right.

What I learned from this is the effect a situation has on you depends on how you view it. Through humour my parents were able to turn a scary situation into something funny.  In changing my perception, they were able to prevent the memory of leg from holding me hostage from doing the things I loved most of the cottage – the freedom to walk the woods on my own and of course, visit my aunt and uncle.

Thanks mom and dad!


Jennifer Angus (aka “The Insect Lady”) Exhibition April 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Duchess of the Hill @ 6:57 pm

Now that I’m in Ottawa 7 days a week I finally have some time to explore my new city.  Last week’s expeditions included a visit to the Ottawa Art Gallery, to see an exhibit by Canadian artist, Jennifer Angus.  Angus’ exhibit at first glance, appears to be intricate wallpaper patterns.  Looking more closely, once can see the patterns are composed of thousands of carefully positioned insects from South East Asia.  According to Fiberarts Magazine, “a common theme runs through this work: the interplay of the feelings of comfort experienced when viewing familiar patterns and the realization on closer inspection that the comforting familiar is actually made up of insects, something most people feel apprehension for”.  Certainly these huge critters would horrify me if I were to meet one in my washroom, however,  once petrified and firmly pinned to the wall, they are remarkably beautiful.  The Heteropteryx dilatata (below) reminded me of a mystical fairy.  We also really enjoyed the beetle miniatures which depicted insects carrying out typical human activities such as of beatles at the barbershop and  playing poker.


February 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Duchess of the Hill @ 6:07 pm

Valentine’s Day!  I could think of nothing more romantic to celebrate than a skate down the canal with my love, stopping to check out the Winterlude events and sample my first Beavertail.  I have been watching the graceful glide of the skaters from the bridge near my abode for weeks and was anxious to give this truly Ottawan activity a try.

Skating on the Rideau Canal

My man had bought me a nice pair of boy skates at Play It Again Sports.  They were freshly sharpened with new laces and I could not wait to start whizzing around on them.  Within the first minute I discovered that skating is not as effortless as it looks – there is real skill, coordination and balance behind it.  Within the first two minutes I discovered my skates were a little bit uncomfortable, and within the first five minutes that they were freakin’ painful.  At this point I was too far from the bench I started from to go back and in too much pain to do my shuffle skate forward so had to be pulled by Sean to the next bench where the skates were promptly removed.  In total my skating experience lasted about 8 minutes.  Needless to say, we didn’t make it anywhere near Winterlude and I still have not yet tried the famous Beavertail.  Still had a great Valentine’s day though!

Snow Sculpture at Jacques Cartier Park


Zumba – Exercise in Disguise February 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Duchess of the Hill @ 4:15 pm

Zumba is the latest craze on the fitness scene and when I saw it was offered by my new gym, Glebe Fitness, I was curious to give it a try.

But not without trepidation – my dance history has been a rocky road.  When I was four I started ballet classes.  One the first day I slipped, accidentally slamming my teeth into a classmate sitting on the floor below me.  It appeared to the teacher that I had intentionally bit her, and I was promptly removed from the class and told I was not welcome to return.  In my early twenties, I signed up for salsa classes with a group of friends.  We all started as beginners and one by one moved up to intermediate, and then advanced.  Except for me.  I made it to beginner level two but never received the invitation from the instructor to join the intermediate class.  Recently I was introduced to Dance Dance Revolution, which I enjoy immensely, but even the recorded voice on the game constantly nags me to “feel the rhythm!”

So I was feeling more than a bit intimidated when I rolled up to Glebe Fitness at 10am yesterday morning.  The studio was already full and I squeezed myself in near the back, where my uncoordinated, rhythm-lacking limbs could work it out a little less publicly.

The class started with I Got A Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas.  I was surprised to find most of the steps, which are based on a mix of salsa, merengue, reggaeton, calypso, African, hip hop, pretty easy to follow.  Josee, the instructor, created a party atmosphere with some serious kick it attitude, punctuating the high energy moves with cat calls, whoops and cheers of encouragement. The all women class of varying shapes, sizes and ages responded by confidently shimmying their behinds and gyrating their hips – all this at 10:15 am on a Saturday morning.  Before long I had broken a sweat and by the end of the class my initially bashful hip sways had evolved into an all out give ‘er sex goddess sizzling rotations that even earned a “yeah!  you’ve got it!” from Josee.

No wonder why some refer to Zumba as exercise in disguise.  And I think I’m even a little on my way to recovering a bit of my dancing ego!

The facts:

What is it?

Zumba is a new aerobic style of dance using music based on salsa, merengue, reggaeton, calypso, African, hip hop and others.

When was it started?

“Beto” Perez, stumbled upon the concept in his native country of Colombia in the mid 1990’s.   One day, he walked into his class and realized he had forgotten his aerobics music.  His only option was to grab the tapes he had in his car – the traditional Latin salsa and merengue music with which he had been raised.  Although it was a challenge to improvise a whole class on the spot, Beto rose to it and the class loved it.  Zumba was born.

Will I feel like I’ve had a workout?

You can count on being hot, sweaty and breathless by the end of the class. The whole point is to keep your heart rate up, so don’t expect a break, or the instructor to slow down and demonstrate moves step by step in slow motion.  According to the web, you can burn anywhere from 500 to 900 calories an hour.

Can people with two left feet do it?

Apparently yes.  As above – things move quickly, so just do your best to follow.  And if you miss a few steps, you won’t be alone.

What areas does it work?

Your heart, your abs (apparently that’s the secret behind shimmying your hips, although I didn’t manage to catch on to this in my first class), your thighs, your glutes ….   I could go on.  But it seemed to be more of an aerobics class, than strength building or toning.  Then again, I was having so much fun, I might not have noticed.

Who’s taking it?

In the class at Glebe Fitness, women of all ages, and all shapes and sizes.

Where can I do it?

In Ottawa check out Dance with Alana or Glebe Fitness

Otherwise check out www.zumba.com to find a class near you.

“Beto” Perez, stumbled upon the concept of Latin inspired fitness in his native country of Colombia (South America) in the mid 1990’s. One day, he walked into his class and realized that he had forgotten his aerobics music, and his only option was to grab whatever tapes he had in his car. Beto’s tapes were comprised of the songs that he loved, the traditional Latin salsa and merengue music with which he had been raised. But it was a challenge to improvise a whole class on the spot using non-traditional aerobics music. Beto rose to the challenge and from this last-minute improvisation was born a revolutionary fitness program – Zumba



Workshop Studio and Boutique January 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Duchess of the Hill @ 7:02 pm

One of the major pluses of moving to Ottawa is that my best friend lives here.  Julia is my favourite person to shop with, not only because she’s my best friend, but also because she is a big time shopper, and always outdoes me when shopping – I never feel bad about what I’ve spent, because she’s always spent more!

Often, I’ve admired a piece of her clothing or jewellery and she’s attributed the source to a store called “Workshop”.  Today I gave into a long resisted shopping craving and joined her on one of her sprees.

Workshop, on Dalhousie Street, has great ambiance and is full of funky clothes and one of a kind jewellery that’s designed by women locally and across Canada.  They also carry some unique baby and gift items.  I tried on a jacket which was flattering, but just a little too out there for me.  In the end I settled on two pairs of earrings (see pic below).

Julia, on the other hand, did not disappoint and as usual went all out: pretty two layered skirt, pink and grey plaid vest, complete with necklace and earrings.

New items arrive weekly.  I’ll be sure to make this a regular stop when I’m in the Market.

Afterward we went to Oh So Good on York Street for a drink and I was thrilled to find a favourite Toronto indulgence – Dufflet Cakes!!  Today I found the willpower to keep my order to a coffee, but it is a great comfort to know that in times of need Dufflet is only a few minutes away.