Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wabbit Cookies

Last fall I came across a recipe for Carrot Chocolate Chip Cookies on the Taste of Home website. Somehow, the idea of making a cookie with carrots hadn’t occurred to me before, but the recipe looked interesting.

Naturally, I played around with the ingredients to make my own version. I used a 50/50 combo of all purpose and whole wheat flour. I’m not a huge fan of raisins so decreased mine to 1/2 cup from the original 1 cup. I added a cup of chopped almonds for a bit of crunch. Oh, and of course there wasn’t nearly enough chocolate chips in the original so I doubled it! Seriously people - 1 cup of chocolate chips is NOT nearly enough for a recipe that makes 7 dozen cookies!!

I gave some samples to a few friends without telling them there was carrots in them. They all thought they were great but asked what the little orange coloured stuff was. When I admitted that it was carrots they all said: “Really?”. Yup, good old, good for ya’ wabbit food!

So, grab some of those beautiful fresh carrots from the garden or take advantage of the fall harvest prices for local produce and make yourself some yummy cookies!!

Wabbit Cookies
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup 1% milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I use a dark mini chip)
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup raisins


In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and oil until blended. Beat in eggs, then milk. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and nutmeg. Measure out 2 Tablespoons and set aside. Gradually add the flour mixture to egg mixture and mix well. Stir the reserved flour mixture into the chips, oats, carrots and raisins and stir to mix. Add the mixture to the batter and mix well.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper; flatten slightly. Bake at 350° for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yield: about 7 dozen.



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fall TV - 2011

It’s mid September and that can only mean one thing – a new crop of TV shows and some returning favourites!

I’ve been checking around the web, watching preview trailers/promos and reading the critics reviews. Here is my take on the freshman shows of Fall 2011:

New Shows:

- Once Upon A Time Sunday’s ABC 7C CTV 7C (Oct 23) Fairy tale characters stuck in the real world and either have no memory or are unwilling to remember who they really are. A little dark, a little over the top but if you can totally suspend your sense of logic and reality you may buy it – for a few episodes anyway. Will likely end unhappily ever after fairly quickly.
- Pan Am Sunday’s ABC/CTV 9C (Sept 25) This is ABC’s bid to keep the audience of Desperate Housewives. A throwback to the glory days of air travel and the life of the stewardesses and pilots of Pan Am. It seems to be getting better buzz than NBC’s Playboy Club but only time will tell if either is worth more than a passing glance.

- 2 Broke Girls Monday’s CBS 8:30E Citytv 8:30C (Sept 19) Odd couple on estrogen with predictable and unlikeable characters. Hard to believe this was one of the highest rated pilots – unless of course only those with empty minds saw it. Can’t believe the network cancelled “Mad Love” for this!
- The Playboy Club Monday’s NBC/Citytv 9C (Sept 19) Do we really need to go down this same sexist route again? Even with a murder mystery thrown into the mix, this is one retro show that likely won’t be around long.
- Hart Of Dixie Monday’s CW 8C (Sept 26) Classic fish out of water as New York surgeon Zoe Hart moves to Alabama to practice medicine. The trailer for this is surprisingly likeable even though there were the predictable new kid in town situations. I’d like to watch this but I’d have to make some changes to my cable line up to get the CW and I’m not sure it is worth it for one show. Unfortunately, I can’t even watch this online as the site’s videos state “content is not available in my location”!
- Terra Nova Monday’s Fox/Citytv 7C (Sept 26) Citizens of the future head back to the time of the dinosaurs to create a better civilization. Huge on CGI and Steven Spielberg behind it should make this solid for fans of Jurassic Park type drama but only time will tell if this new colony will survive more than a few weeks.

- Last Man Standing Tuesday’s ABC 7C (Oct 11) Sunday’s Citytv 7:30E (Oct 16) Tim Allen is a man’s man in a world of estrogen. If you liked Home Improvement you will likely find this amusing – tired stereotype jokes and all.
- Man Up Tuesday’s ABC/CTV Two 7:30C (Oct 18) Geared to the males and full of your regular guy humour.
- Ringer Tuesday’s, 8C CW (Sept 13) Fridays 9C Global (Sept 16) Twin sisters – one leaves witness protection and reconnects with her estranged twin who dies suddenly thereafter. She assumes the life of her deceased sister only to discover she had a secret life. One can only hope this identity ruse is discovered quickly and then Sarah Michelle Gellar can find a better series.
- Unforgettable Tuesday's, 9C on CTV/CBS (Sept. 20) Poppy Montgomery (Without A Trace) is back as a cop who can’t forget anything – except for how her sister died. A female version of The Mentalist – without the psychic ability. Too bad it is up against Body Of Proof. If you have a PVR/DVR use it!
- New Girl Tuesday's 8C Citytv/Fox (Sept. 20) After a nasty breakup a girl finds a new place to live – with three guys! This may well turn into a hit if the singing doesn’t turn you off.

- Suburgatory Wednesday’s 7:30C ABC/Citytv (Sept 28) Single dad uproots teen daughter from Manhattan and moves to a suburb after finding a box of condoms in her drawer. Looks like a typical fish out of water set up and could go either way.
- Revenge Wednesday’s ABC/Citytv 9C (Sept 21) Described as Desperate Housewives meets Gossip Girl. Is there room on the small screen for another show filled with the secrets and romances of the rich and powerful? Could be! I loved Canadian born Emily VanCamp on Everwood a few years back. She is really proving herself from what I saw in an extended preview! I was quite intrigued and will definitely be tuning in!
- H8R Wednesday’s CW 7C (Sept 14) Real life people confronted by the celebs they hate. Odd concept but if it were done with taste it could actually open some eyes to how other people really live. Sadly, I doubt that it will teach anybody much of anything.
- The X Factor Wednesday’s Fox/CTV 7C (Sept 21) Yet another reality talent show – YAWN!
- I Hate My Teenager Daughter Wednesday’s – 8:30C Fox/Fridays, 9E Global (Nov 30/Dec 2) Kids hate their mothers just as much in this one. If this wasn’t premiering so late in the season it would be the first to be cancelled.
- Up All Night Wednesday’s CTV/NBC 7C (Sept 14) Young couple with a new born. She goes back to work and he stays at home. Watching the extended trailer for this was more than I wanted to see. Luckily it is up against Survivor so will likely be voted off the screen quickly.
- Free Agents Wednesday’s NBC/CTV 7:30C (Sept 14) An office relationship and all the quirky characters that work there. The trailer was only mildly amusing and most of the characters have a high potential to grate on the nerves. Viewing the full pilot was even worse.

- Charlie’s Angels Thursday’s CTV/ABC 7C (Sept 22) Yet another remake.... yawn.
- How To Be A Gentleman Thursday’s CBS/Global 7:30C (Sept 29) Another buddy comedy with an uptight columnist getting to know his former high school buddy. The trailer was more than enough for me.
- Person Of Interest Thursday’s CBS/Citytv 8C (Sept 22) “An ex-CIA hitman and a secretive scientist team up to eliminate internal corruption and fight potential crime before it happens.’ A bit creepy with the “Big Brother is watching” aspect but could be appealing if you enjoy that sort of thing.
- The Secret Circle Thursday’s CW 8C (Sept 15) An orphaned teenager girl returns to the small town where her mom grew up only to discover she is a witch. Um, haven’t we had a few occult type shows already? I cheered for ABC’s Eastwick last season and it was dumped. I watched the trailer for this and it was intriguing in a youthful way but I won’t switch my cable line-up to watch this new series.
- Whitney Thursday’s NBC 8:30C / CTV 7:30C (CTV Sept 19 and NBC Sept 22) Happily unmarried couple Whitney and Alex share their life and experiences. I’ll admit, I hate the TV promo for this but after watching the extended promo online, I’m looking forward to checking this one out.
- Prime Suspect Thursday’s NBC/Global 9C (Sept 22) An American remake of the British series that starred Helen Mirren. This version has Maria Bello as a NYC murder investigator facing sexism while solving violent crime. A little too hardboiled and sexist for my liking but fans of procedural dramas may enjoy.

- A Gifted Man Friday’s CBS/Global 7C (Sept 23) A gifted surgeon’s life is turned upside down when his dead ex-wife starts talking to him. We’ve seen this premise similar to this before in several series so I doubt that this will last more than a season – if that.
- Grimm Friday’s NBC 8C / CTV 7C (Oct 21) Grimm’s Fairy Tales meets cop drama. The show is more gory and deeper on the gruesome side than Once Upon A Time but can also be a bit campy. Suspend any sense of reality and this twist may appeal. Personally, I liked reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales but these fairy tales are a bit too grim.


So much for the new shows. I’m checking out Pan Am, Unforgettable, Revenge and Whitney.

Here is a brief look at some of the returning shows:

Returning Shows:
- Amazing Race Sunday’s CBS/CTV 7C (Sept 25) I’ve loved this show from day one and am looking forward to seeing yet another race around the world!
- Desperate Housewives Sunday’s ABC/CTV 8C (Sept 25) Marc Cherry recently announced that this would be the last season for the ladies of Wisteria Lane. It’s been a fun ride watching all of their antics over the years and I’m betting this last season will be one to remember!
- The Good Wife Sunday’s CBS 9C Global 8C (Sept 25) I enjoyed the first season but quit watching early in the second. I was tired of the office mind games and the continuing secrets of the wayward politician husband. Now that it has moved to Sunday’s, Even though I have a PVR, I’ll still be passing it by as it is on against Desperate Housewives and the new series Pan Am.
- How I Met Your Mother Monday’s CBS/Citytv 7:30C (Sept 19) The gang is back for another season. Is Barney really going to get married – and to whom? Are Marshall and Lily really pregnant? Will Robin meet Mr. Right? Will we find out who the mother is? Stay tuned!
- Body of Proof Tuesday’s ABC/Citytv 9C (Sept 20) One of the best new mid season shows from last year! Dana Delany rules this time slot!
- Survivor Wednesday’s - CBS/Global 7C (Sept 14) The 23rd season brings back two former players Ozzy (Yes!) and Coach aka “The Dragon Slayer” (Not again!). One of the castaways is the nephew of former survivor Russell Hantz. If the nephew plays anything like his uncle, I may be switching channels or only partially watching. Let’s face it – as great as this show was it is getting past its prime.
- Criminal Minds Wednesday’s – CBS/CTV 8C (Sept 21) Last year’s spin off “Suspect Behaviour” was a disaster but the original is back for a seventh season and still going strong! The good news is that A.J. Cook is back as J.J. and Paget Brewster is back as Emily Prentiss. I’m looking forward to seeing what the team of the BAU will face this time around!
- Harry’s Law Wednesday’s NBC/Global 8C (Sept 21) This was my favourite new show from last season so was thrilled to see it renewed. Some changes for season 2 will take a bit of getting used to for me. Jenna (Brittany Snow) and Malcolm (Aml Ameen) are gone. Tommy (Christopher McDonald) is now a regular. I was hoping that Paul McCrane (Josh) would also return. New cast have been added and Harry gets new office digs. I’ll miss the old one! Hopefully the David Kelley show will retain its wit, great banter and quirkiness!

As for the rest of the returning shows, you can check out all the latest changes and potential storylines by heading to TV Guide Canada Fall Preview. Click on any day of the week and then click the show you want to learn more about.

Happy viewing!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 – Ten Years Later

Ten years ago today, much of the world came to a stop as we watched with numbing horror, the terrorist attacks on the United States.

We wanted it to be a bad dream but it wasn’t.

The hijackers had taken control of four planes and used them to destroy the lives of countless individuals. The lives of their families, friends and the ones who somehow managed to survive were forever altered. The livelihoods of thousands who worked in the area were also greatly changed.

Almost 3,000 people died that day. Hundreds of fireman, law enforcement and medical personal who raced to the scene to save others were among those who perished. Over 3,000 children lost a parent on 9/11.

I’m not going to go into the details of that day or the reasons for the attacks. There are any number of articles that one can read if you search for them. I wrote my own remembrances of that day three years ago.

What I will say, is that it still boggles the mind that anyone could have that much hatred and belief in their convictions to knowingly and willingly want to destroy not just their own life but the lives of innocent people who happened to be travelling on those planes or be in those buildings on that day. The attacks were focussed on the USA but citizens of over 100 countries were lost.

I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting New York, although I’ve had relatives living there and know many people who have traveled there. I’ve never been to Washington or Pennsylvania either.

At the time of the attacks, I didn’t know anyone who was born and raised in or near New York. Since 2001, I’ve gotten to know at least a couple of New Yorker’s online but I’ve never asked them about how that day impacted their lives. I think I avoided it because I was afraid of opening a barely healing scar or stirring up memories they may not wish to discuss with someone they only know online.

Since that day, there have been even more military personal killed fighting the war on terrorism. There have also been many deaths due to other smaller scale terrorist attacks around the world by various radicals, groups and home-grown extremists. Most recently the lone gunman who killed 77 people and injured more than 150 in Norway. The reasons for that attack, were completely opposite of the 9/11 ones, but they were all carried out by people who believed in their cause to the point of killing others to promote and carry out their beliefs.

Reactions to any of the mass killings – regardless of the reasons behind them – are generally met with horror and the cry of “not again!”. Lives are shattered by these events and we always wonder if there was something that could have been done to prevent it. Citizens have been advised to be aware of their surroundings and watch for things that seem unusual for the setting. That awareness has prevented some dangerous situations but it has also brought false accusations. Finding a balance of that watchfulness is difficult.

Sadly. many have become suspiciously watchful of those around them. Questioning and distrustful of those who are not of similar backgrounds and beliefs. Building walls around themselves to protect them from perceived evil rather than taking a little time to learn about the cultures and beliefs of others. They fail, or perhaps refuse to see that there are good and bad in all facets of society - be it religious, ethnic or any other factors.

Some choose to call for revenge. Some choose to live in fear.

Thankfully, not all have closed their hearts and minds to others in this world. Many are reaching out to learn more about how other people on this shared planet live and what they believe. If one looks long enough and close enough they will almost always find a commonality.

I shared this concept a few years ago but I think it bears repeating here. Back in the late 1970’s, a teacher in a religious studies course that I took, used this analogy to explain how various religions can see the same God:

“The Creator" is like a diamond with multiple facets. All sides are slightly different and various religions see different sides. So whether you refer to The Creator as God, Jehovah, Allah or as a Higher Power you are actually just looking at another side of the same thing. Yes the various religions have different beliefs, but there are common factors that will always unite us if we choose to be open to each other."

Reaching out, trusting and moving on are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Especially if your world has been shattered so brutally and unexpectedly.

We can’t ignore the past. It happened and we can’t change that. Nor should we forget it. We don’t know how long each of us has on this earth, but we can’t stop living, learning or loving while we are here.

But, if we are to live a life worth living and experience all that it has to offer, then we must also learn to accept other people as they are and be respectful of their life.

I choose not to live in fear.

I choose not to live in ignorance or intolerance of other cultures or beliefs.

I choose to love.

Yes, I realize that the terrorist attacks did not take place in my neighbourhood, nor did I lose anyone on September 11, 2001, but we all have to decide how we will live our lives in these sadly troubled times.

Canadian singer/songwriter/artist Meaghan Smith has written a deeply inspiring post called Peace September. She talks of the ways we must all find peace within ourselves to live and to love. She closes with this:

“Because Love can walk freely where Peace has cleared the path.

With all my heart I hope that we can find peace within ourselves. And then that peace will overflow into our homes and families and friends and co workers and neighborhoods and cities and counties and eventually countries and finally... Peace on Earth.”

Recently. Canadians lost a beloved and charismatic politician named Jack Layton. He had been the leader of the New Democrat Party of Canada for the last several years. This past spring, he led the party to its strongest showing ever in a federal election and the first time that the party gained opposition status.

Mr. Layton succumbed to cancer just days after writing a heartfelt letter to the people of this country. The letter was released to the public after his death on August 22, 2011. It addressed the issues that the party and the people would face in the coming months and years.

The words with which he chose to close the letter, are words that we should all strive to live by no matter where we live in this world and regardless of our political or religious beliefs.

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
– Jack Layton (1950-2011)


Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Wrist - Part Two

Last week, I told you about my adventures with a painful wrist.

Oh, that was such a fun weekend! I was tired, in pain and bored! I could do almost nothing without pain.

If you’ve never had an injury to your non dominant hand or wrist, you just don’t realize how much you really do use it until you can’t use it.

There are all kinds of things that are harder – or next to impossible to do. Pulling up underwear or pants with only one hand. Putting on a bra or any top with sleeves Squeezing the shampoo bottle. Opening a jar. Holding a knife or anything else for that matter! I mouse with my right hand. I use the remote and even dial the phone with my right hand! I couldn’t hold a book – let alone turn the pages. Even doing my regular eye drops requires both hands. Removing a child proof cap from a bottle – now THAT was fun! Oh, and a word to the gals out there – don’t attempt to shave the underarms with an injured wrist! Trust me - it is beyond painful!

Monday morning, I was up by 6:30. I’d slept a bit better and the wrist was not nearly as sore or warm to the touch as it had been. I did most of my stretches, showered, had breakfast and headed out by 8:30. Using the buses wasn’t too bad but I had to be careful as I generally use my right hand to hold the railing as I get on. I also tend to open doors with my right hand. Not that day!

I saw a triage nurse who then called in a doctor. They had me do a number of movements to see where it hurt or was tender. My dexterity had improved but I showed them how bad it had been. Between them, they thought it was either a pinched nerve or tendonitis. That was better than carpal tunnel or bursitis. They said to continue the icing as that was helping and to limit movement – especially on the PC for the next few days! The doc also wrote a script for an anti inflammatory and a wrist/hand brace.

Once I started the anti inflammatory meds and continued with the icing, things started to improve fairly quickly.

I wasn’t thrilled about being off the computer. I missed playing my games and I wanted to write! But, of course I knew I had to behave or it would take even longer to heal!

The real test of the wrist came on the Wednesday morning. I needed groceries – including a 4L jug of milk and fresh fruit. It actually went fairly smoothly – I just had to keep reminding myself not to lift the basket – or anything heavy with the right hand! I made it home in one piece and iced the wrist after I’d put the groceries away and cleaned up the produce.

I decided to push the envelope a bit and do laundry. Rather than carry it down to the laundry room in one big pile in one trip, I took my two loads down separately so it wouldn’t be as heavy. By the time I was done, I was tired but the wrist wasn’t too bad. I iced it off and on most of the afternoon to be safe.

It was Thursday before I returned to doing full stretches and even attempted a workout. It felt so good to get that routine back! Also felt great to be back on the PC for more than five minutes to check my email! I didn’t overdo it though.

By Friday – one week after the start of the wrist problem – things were more or less back to normal. I even made a batch of my homemade buns!

The weekend went smoothly – including another day trip to the family farm. I did minimal lifting and iced the wrist when I got back.

This past week has been almost normal movement with some caution thrown in for good measure! I’m back to full regular workouts and even managed to move a few heavier items while cleaning the apartment - without any problems.

Now, just over two weeks since the problem started, life is pretty much back to normal.

I’m not taking my recovery for granted though. I’ve bought some over the counter anti inflammatory meds to have on hand. This coming week, I’ll be getting the right hand thumb splint that the doctor wrote a script for. I’ll use it when needed. The doctor also gave me a print out with some exercises to do once things had cleared up – to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I’ll be doing those on a regular basis. I don’t want to go through that kind of pain or the frustration of that kind of injury again anytime soon!