Wednesday, February 27, 2008


CPB is no longer my friend. He is my S.F.V.F. That is even better than your B.F.F. from high school because it is your Spice Friend Viva Forever. Trying to explain the time we had is near impossible. It was SO good – the last Spice Girls concert. Possibly ever and WE were there.

I almost cried when I heard we were going to get 10 cm of snow. There is no way I would make it from my yoga class to downtown in an hour. It was too late to get a sub, so I Spiced up the yoga class and made the best of it. And then the Spice Gods smiled on me. There was NO traffic at all. I mean none. Not even getting off at Spadina! I rolled right through the first green light and into a primo parking spot.

Not once did our asses touch the seats after the show started. We had everyone around us dancing and singing. (No, no, it was US, not Mel B, Mel C, Ginger, Posh and Baby Spice. Us. CPB and I.). Whether they wanted to or not, the people danced. Dance, or we step on your feet and make you move. We did our Karen and Jack belly bump (a little too often truth be told) but more often than not, we just smashed into each other at random as we were too excited to concentrate.

Maybe it was the $13 beers or those five sassy ladies from across the pond but likely a bit of both. It was electric. I also managed to successfully annoy everyone at work today. Ever conversation began and ended with, “did you know I went to the last Spice Girls concert last night? And whatever you said just now, or are about to say, holds no interest for me. Unless it is spice related.” And when asked, “How are you?” “Spicey” or “Spicetastic” was my answer. Gosh I am a freak.

The fact that I made it to work at all is worth noting. Hopped up on Spice juice, CPB and I headed for Karaoke at Crews in the village. I hated CPB for a spilt second when he announced he didn’t have to work the next day. But it was for like a nano-spice second so it doesn’t count. We also managed to convince Wong Fu that it was in his best interest to get out of bed at 10:30 on a Tuesday and come out. Spice T’s on, we took the stage for a rousing rendition of Stop! Luckily, the person before us sang a VERY mellow song so the crowd was ready to be whipped into a frenzy and whip we did. Oh yeah. We were then asked by one of the drag queens if we would be back up dancers for her Spicy number. At least I think we were asked?

Pints, and apparently vodka shots, are cheaper in the village than at the ACC. Time flew and even after spilling out into the street, we headed south for some reason. As we passed George’s play, we heard more Spice in the night air. Dashing in, we danced for the one song and left. Fu headed south while my S.F.V.F. and I headed north. Passing by Crews again, Spice Up Your Life lured us back in.

Our last stop of the night reinforces my theory that McDonalds at 2:00 AM is par excellent! Made all the more excellent by Spice t-shirts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Who Wants Seconds?

As you can well guess, I am quite chuffed with Mrs. Beeton and her 1823 ways. I must admit however that some of her recipes have made my stomach turn more than once. Here is just a sample of what went to the table of a Victorian middle class family:

Turtle soup, the mode – “to make this soup with less difficulty, cut off the head of the turtle the preceding day.” Apparently they had mildly retarded turtles back then than didn’t have the smarts to pull their head back under the shell. “Hey, what is that sharp shiny object coming at my……” WHACK! “In the morning open the turtle by leaning heavily with a knife on the shell of the animal’s back, whilst you cut this off all around.” Gross, but the use of the word ‘whilst’ makes it more palatable.

Eel pie, the mode – “skin and wash the eels, cut them into pieces two inches long. Due to the difficulty in killing them, they are sold alive. The eels are skinned alive – their heads cut off and then the skin rolled off from the neck down.” The book goes onto describe how the pieces ‘may continue to move even after being skinned and chopped’. Nothing more to say on that but “eel pie anyone?”

If you lived on a farm and had to kill an oxen, ‘the general mode’ for doing so was ‘by striking them a smart blow with a hammer or poleaxe on the head, a little above the eyes. When the blow is skillfully given, the beast is brought down at one blow, and, to prevent recovery, a cane is generally inserted, by which the spinal cord is perforated.’ I am sure what we do today is equally grim, but you don’t hear Martha writing about it. Goodness.

Boiled tongue – when selecting such a thing, ascertain how long it has been dried or pickled, and select one with a smooth tongue that denotes its being young and tender. McDonalds, are you taking notes?

Collared Pig’s Face (a breakfast dish) – GOOD morning indeed! Singe the head carefully, bone it without breaking the skin, and rub it well with salt. Pour a cold brine over it and let it steeped for 10 days. That must smell delicious Mrs. B!

Suckling Pig – “”Put the pig into cold water directly it is killed; let it remain for a few minutes, then immerse it in a large pan of boiling water for two minutes. Take it out, lay it on a table, and pull off the hair as quickly as possible. When the skin looks clean, make a slit down the belly, take out the entrails, well clean the nostrils and ears, wash the pig in cold water, and wipe it thoroughly dry.” WOW – you really had to work for your food back then didn’t you? Again, McDonalds, are you making notes? Take OUT the entrails.

The goes on and includes boiled calf’s feet, boiled calf’s head and other delicacies, but I am sure I have inspired you all enough as it is to run off to the kitchen and whip yourself up a little something to eat. Enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Four boys, a pizza and a shoe.

Happy Valentines! As a newly minted single, I found myself with little to do on the great Hallmark Holiday known as Valentines Day. You know he died in prison right? I had two choices, retreat into my abode and make a date with a white wall, a brush and a can of Benjamin Moore Philipsburg Blue, or step out into the world of hand holding, glassy eyed love sick couples. Option two won out thanks to an invite from three other eligible bachelors.

KitKat, Jack, CPB and I braved the cold February weather to head out for pizza. Heart shaped pizza. KitKat and CPB started the ‘tradition’ last year with a stop at Boston Pizza where they ONLY serve heart shaped pizza on the big day. This year, the circle grew to four, and we found ourselves seated in the pizza joint at Dufferin Mall.

I am sure it was the setting, but I didn’t feel so bad about being alone. “Comparison is the thief of joy” is an expression I recently heard and quite like. But last night, I have to say comparison made me feel mildly better. There I was with three friends, laughing, chatting, being silly and generally having a good time. Throw greasy pizza in the mix and it is all good.

My fear of jealousy quickly faded as I took inventory of the ‘love struck’ couples around me. At the table next to us, the husband and wife talked incessantly. Not to each other mind, but on cell phones for the entire meal while their two kids played hand held video games. Others fought, sat in absolute silence and in one case had the male part of the equation sneak off to the bar to watch something on TV. I guess “you complete me” is not all it is cracked up to be.

I was a little put off that all the ladies got a rose though, and we were not offered any. Gosh, we were more lady than half the ladies in the place! “Oh don’t worry” said the manager, “I won’t embarrass you with a flower”. Embarrassed? I beg pardon?

After dinner we retired to Jack’s for a game of Clue that ended up with Professor Green, whacking someone in the dining room with the lead pipe. I somehow managed to end up on my head as I fished the dice out from under the couch. More laughter and frivolity.

As the three of us headed home, we passed by the local church, which happens to be joined to the local strip club. Nice to know you can sell your soul to the devil and get it back in under a city block. “Happy Valentines boys” was shouted at us from somewhere in the dark. We turned to investigate and were quickly asked for change for a coffee and for a shoe. The colorful neighborhood that it is, had the poor woman locked out of her place with only one shoe.

In a not so Mother Teresa fashion, I made a hasty retreat – into traffic. Not the best move to be sure, but at least something made my heart beat faster on Valentines.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

More Beeton Brilliance

Mrs. Beeton continues to teach us valuable lessons! Did you know, your morning calls should “be a short stay of 15 to 20 minutes” and that while you may remove your boa or neckerchief, you must not remove your shawl nor bonnet. Got that PinkGirl? Feather boa off, pink bonnet on.

And I shall never make the faux pas of asking for seconds of soup or fish, no matter how divine. “In doing so, part of the company may be kept waiting too long for the second course. When done, a little revenge is taken by looking at the awkward consumer of the second portion.” Oh Mrs. Beeton, you are wicked. Can I ask for a doggy bag?

When the finger glass is placed before me, I must remember to restrain myself from doing what “the French and other continentals” do, that is gargle. This is “a custom which no English gentlewoman should, in the slightest degree, imitate.”

The chapter on the Arrangement and Economy of the Kitchen has several tidbits to share as well. While adornment on the handle of pots and pans “might seem to be useless, we need to remember how much more natural it is for us all to be careful of the beautiful and costly, than of the plain and the cheap.” No wonder I take such good care of myself. Ha ha.

I am about to dive headlong into the food chapters – starting with soups! I shall keep you posted with more exciting finds!

Monday, February 04, 2008

They Just Don't Go Together

Or at least that is what I used to think. I always felt we needed to keep the black and the white apart. Having them together was dangerous and can lead to no good. If we let the two of mix with each other, there will be sparks! You may well think I am commenting on last week’s decision by the TDSB to go ahead with a planned black-focused school. Well I am not. I am talking about something much closer to home.

During a recent makeover of my powder-room I fancied myself a new light fixture. The builder’s four ugly bulbs just weren’t cutting it. In order to get all the wallpaper down, the existing fixture had to go and I worked with a spot light. This of course left two wires to deal with – a black and a white.

I know enough that as long as the power is off at the switch, these two wires are harmless. As I pulled down paper here and polyfilled there, I kept getting poked (hee hee) by the copper wires so I twisted them together, fastened them with an electrical wire nut and got on with the business at hand.

As I sanded the drywall compound it became quite dusty in that little space, so I reached over to flick on the fan for a little ventilation. You know where this is going right? Wrong switch. There was a ‘pop’ and then a pain in my forehead. That little nut nailed my noodle like nobody’s business. And those wires, well let me tell you what, they couldn’t have moved any further apart.

Breakers are a great thing though and there was no real harm done. I now have a beautiful bathroom and stunning light fixture thanks to the black and the white, working together.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Move Over Martha.

It seems that for quite some time I have been under the misguided notion that Martha Stewart is the diva of domesticity. While I admit that I am inspired by some of her ideas, especially around Halloween, rest in peas indeed, I now pray in the pantry of an altogether different grand dame who is THE authority on all matters concerning the household – Mrs. Isabella Beeton.

I noticed a copy of her book (624 pages in the abridged version) atop KitKat’s icebox on one of our Survivor nights. Both he and Fauntleroy were thoroughly shocked that I of all people had never heard of her before. I apologize to Isabella for being so foolish for so long but I promise to make haste in learning your valuable lessons.

The plan was to read the book and share one or two pearls of wisdom with the readers of light and flaky. But I can’t wait until the end! Literally EVERY single page has a lesson or message of the utmost importance.

For example, I no longer go to the washroom in the morning to brush my teeth, shower, shave etc, I simply do my ablutions. Nice and succinct don’t you agree?

The entire book can be summarized thus: “As with the commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so it is with the mistress of the house.” And what commanders we would all be if we read Mrs. Beeton Book of Household Management. I remember KitKat describing my actions as I prepared for one particular Christmas dinner as those of a "submarine captain". The kitchen was so tiny and 12 people have a 6 course meal come out of it. Not quite a commander, but getting there. I will now share some of my favourite selections from Chapter 1 – The Mistress.

“I have always thought that there is no more fruitful sense of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways.” Indeed Mrs. Beeton, indeed.

And did you know that “early rising is one of the most essential qualities which enter into good household management, as it is not only the parent of good health, but of other innumerable advantages. Indeed, when a mistress is an early riser, it is almost certain that her house will be orderly and well managed. On the contrary, if she remain in bed till a late hour, then the domestics, who, as we have before observed, invariably partake somewhat of their mistress’s character, will surely become sluggards.” Damn those sluggardly domestics. Thank goodness I am an early riser, keeps them in line I tell you what.

I am extra pleased with this next passage as I am going bonnet and shawl shopping next week. The three things I need to keep in mind are 1. That it be not too expensive for my purse. 2. That its colour harmonize with my complexion and it’s size and pattern with my figure. 3. That its tint allow of its being with other garments I possess. Along these same lines I must remember to adapt my dress and change it with my circumstances. At breakfast, things must be kept neat and simple wearing no ornaments. And regardless of where I am during the day, jewellery and ornaments are not to be worn until I assume the full dress for dinner.

As I said, the guide is fantastic and I could go on. But I don’t want to share everything at once lest you get as excited as I did. I also have to go and pack for my trip to England. Did you know that for £40 to £80 a year I can have a house steward? And £25 - £50 will get me a butler. And cooks top out at £40! It will be expensive to fly them all back here, but I think it well worth the investment.

I look forward to sharing more of Mrs. Beeton’s advice with you all very soon.

Yours truly,
Robert W. Mitchell