Jan 31 2013

30 Rock #happy365

Via Flickr:
Crazy day today!

I had to be in Midtown for the Legal Tech conference and that is always a huge deal because I am let out of my comfort zone in the Financial District. Midtown is exhausting!

I grabbed lunch at the Rockefeller Center. This was perfect as tonight is the final episode of 30 Rock and this was about the highlight of my day.

The conference was super busy, I also had an early morning trip to the DMV (ugh!) and then a late afternoon trip to the dentist (double ugh!) and THEN to cap it off, we were overdue for a good confession and wanted to go before we leave for Rome next week. Gah!

Onwards and upwards for tomorrow!

Jan 30 2013

Sewing up a storm

For the past year or so, I have wanted a sewing machine so badly but it was overwhelming to think about. Cost, space, learning the basics… ugh. Then I did a whole lot of research and just wanted to pounce. Over Thanksgiving I started looking at prices and on Cyber Monday I saw a blog about a Brother machine that was on sale (it ends up it is always that price) but I put my Amazon Prime to work and ordered this Brother one.

Our Brother

Bill was just as excited – he is super patient and got perfect grades in sewing at school. I on the other hand, lack the patience, so we’d be a good team and he can keep me on track when I lose it.

Then, around the time that we bought the machine, there was a LivingSocial deal for a sewing class in Brooklyn. I bought the class straight away because I thought it would be the perfect way to learn the basic skills and get used to a machine. We booked for a January class so in the meantime, I ordered a set of Moda Squares and real deal French Lavender. We were then able to get started on our first project – lavender pillows as family gifts for Christmas. This was a great starter project and we got our routine pretty much set with it. Here is one of them –

Lavender Pillow

I will be making stacks more of these – I LOVE them!

Then, it was time for our sewing class. We went to Esaie Couture down near Prospect Park. Our project would be a tote bag.

Earlier in the week I picked up fabric for us at the City Quilter on 25th Street – if you are ever need good quality fabric, I wholeheartedly recommend them!

The first part of our 4 hour class was spent on sewing basics and methods for steering clear of mishaps on the machine. We did practice drills and learnt how to work through the machine. What was great is that I found that the way I was pushing the fabric through was why I was having so much trouble staying straight when we were doing the lavender bags.

Our machines –

Esaie Couture

Not quite ready to make clothes for these yet –

Esaie Couture

Then, it was time to get busy with our totes. What made this hard was I was already so tired when we got there – the usual Monday night feeling of needing to be in bed at 7.30!

But we soldiered through and this was the end result –

The End Result!

My bag was made for random sewing supplies, Bill is giving his to our crossword loving sister.

After a big haul at Jo-ann’s Fabrics and Crafts, Bill’s next project is a shirt and I am going to try a VERY basic quilt. We have also got a multitude of PBS sewing shows recording on our TiVo.. we can do this!

By the way a word on our machine… after using the very old ones at the sewing school, ours is awesome. We fully recommend it and the price on Amazon cannot be beat. It wasn’t a Cyber Monday deal after all!

Jan 30 2013

Morning Fog #happy365

Via Flickr:
I am loving the all the fog we have had here recently! I took this as I was walking to the bus stop this morning – it was pretty much this grey and gloomy all day. My happy weather!

Jan 29 2013

Yes… another Chris Issak post!

Let’s talk some Chris Isaak shall we?

Earlier in the year I was doing our regular donation payments when it came time to pay our PBS donation. When I went to their website, I found that one of their subscriber gifts for donation was 2 tickets and a Meet and Greet with Chris Isaak at his Beacon Theater show later in the year. It was a no brainer – we were SO there. The Beacon is my favorite venue in New York – we were basically guaranteed an awesome night. I’ve met him a few times. After his show (my first Chris Isaak concert) in 1996, I met him at Gaslight records in 1998 and after his show in Melbourne in 2006. So this would be my fourth Chris meeting!

Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy changed our plans. The show was rescheduled. My friend Honore was supposed to come down from Massachusetts for the show but with the Amtrak service being still sketchy, Bill stepped in and we decided to make it a date night.

We were told that for the meet and greet, our photo with Chris would be taken by the PBS photographer. So I was envisioning a gorgeous quality photo and was very happy to have someone professional take the photo. We had to line up outside and then in the theater itself, while Chris finished up the Live Nation Meet and Greet. We were told that basically we got to have a photo and that was it – so it wasn’t a usual Chris Isaak meet and greet protocol but it was fine nevertheless.

When we were lining up, Bill said he wasn’t interested in a photo, instead he would stand to the side and take a photo of me instead and hold my coat. Before I knew it, it was my turn to step up. I walked towards Chris when he turned around and said “WOW – that is such a BEAUTIFUL dress!” I was floored and went bright red and said “Thank you SO much!” while giggling. Then we had to turn around to get our photo taken. The ‘photographer’ was standing in one of the rows. We turned around and it was basically ‘Say Cheese!’ and that was it. I turned around to wish them well for the show when Chris asked where I was from. I said “Brooklyn!” to which he looked at me strangely until I added “… via Melbourne!” He was all excited and noted how they’d be doing a fair bit of work in Australia next year. Bill then wandered over and told Chris how great he looked (he really did look amazing for his age!) when Chris told Bill “All clean living man!!” and that was that. I said goodbye to Chris and Kenney and headed for the door.

We wandered across the road to Big Nick’s Burger and Pizza Joint. If you want a dive place, this is it. My white pizza was really nice, Bill’s burger was delish and it was great to be able to calm down after all of the excitement.



We were then able to wander back across Broadway to get in our fab fab fab (as in 5th row, center) seats. The Beacon is the best – seats are comfy, sound is awesome and the place is just gorgeous.

Best music venue in NYC

The whole show was really good – he loves the Beacon and you can tell he feels at home there! Bill is also converted – he had a great time… which was so good to know seeing as he hates concerts. Chris and the guys are so professional and really and truly, they never play a bad show That is why I see them nearly every year! Check out some of my photos –

Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak

When we got home I was so excited to see the photos Bill took of us from afar. Hmm this is what I got –

Awww Bill's rushed pic..


Seriously… what am I doing? :(

Seriously – two of the most blah photos ever. I was sad but hopeful for the other shots to come.

In the end I had to wait FOUR WHOLE DAYS for PBS to send me the ‘professional’ photo. Oh my gosh. When it arrived it was like it was taken on a 2006 Blackberry 2 megapixel camera. The photo is SO BAD I found myself laughing hysterically. For added ridiculous value, it has a huge date and time stamp across the bottom of the WRONG DATE. Here it is –

The PBS photo

So that was our date night with Chris and the guys. Just looking at the photos makes me laugh – we’ll see them again next year without hesitation and Bill has promised we’ll get the proper meet and greet where we can have a good chat with the guys (because seriously, they can do pre-concert chit chat well) and take a DECENT photo!

By the way, here was the setlist for the show. SO very, very good!

American Boy
Pretty Girls
Blue Hotel
We’ve Got Tomorrow
I Want Your Love
San Franciso Days
I’m Not Waiting
Somebody’s Crying
Wicked Game
Best I Ever Had
Notice the Ring
Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing
Doin’ the Best I Can
Ring of Fire
Dixie Fried
Can’t Help Falling in Love
It’s Now or Never
Live It Up
Miss Pearl
Great Balls Of Fire


Super magic
Oh, Pretty Woman
Big Wide Wonderful
Worked It Out Wrong

Jan 29 2013

Secret library tips acknowledged #happy365

Via Flickr:
I got home from work tonight and opened the laptop to check Twitter.

Jane Kennedy had tweeted her dismay at having to contact 5 boxes of school books.

Covering books is one of my favorite activities of all time. Mum never had to do mine after about grade four… and I would do my all of my brother’s books too!

I responded to Jane with my contacting secret – @jenelle: Use a ruler & tissue to press the contact down and bubbles out. For stubborn bubbles – pin prick! #tipsfromalibrarian

Then I got awarded an OBE…!

The funny thing is, at the time I was watching the Brady Bunch (LOVE IT!) and Mr Brady had just stepped into the library. I’ve recorded the clip to post later. The library was so cute in the episode.

Hooray for contact and best of luck to all of those who have spent the past few days covering school books!

Jan 28 2013

Our Christmas… and the pudding!

I know you are probably very much over Christmas but I have to do a wrap up! Advent and Christmas for 2012 was a mix of super busy and then in the end, very relaxing! Here is our Christmas photo –

2012 Christmas Photo

Bill was so busy at work for the end of year rush. He was working long hours and normally that would be stressful enough. Throw in Christmas and all the usual ‘busy stuff’ that goes along with that and December really did fly by.

During December for different nights during each week, I was with others at Queen of All Saints packing my friend Michele’s amazing gingerbread and other delicious cookies. Then Bill and I were selling these after each Mass on Saturday and Sunday. This meant our spare time was drastically cut to fit in everything else that you need to do in December. BUT somehow, this almost made things easier to deal with. We had to be organized from get go and it worked out well. Here we are selling the cookies –

Christmas at Queen of All Saints

Christmas at Queen of All Saints

Christmas at Queen of All Saints

Christmas at Queen of All Saints

My to-do list was ongoing and constantly growing but we got everything done and more. The only problem is, it felt like Advent didn’t even exist it went by so quickly and that is something I really have to work on for 2013.

Christmas at Queen of All Saints

We did our usual decorations… no changes there!

Our tree –

Our Christmas decorations

Mistletoe –

Our Christmas decorations

Advent Wreath –

Our Christmas decorations

Nativity –

Our Christmas decorations

We had our Stir-up Sunday the week before Thanksgiving. This was the first time I had ever attempted to make a Christmas Pudding and I worked off Delia Smith’s recipe with tips and hints from this page. A note about this page – I have to admit that the first time I landed on the page I thought it was some kind of joke that there was a site made by Paul Denyer from Melbourne (people from Australia would know who I am talking about) or I was thinking that there was a website made by him that was produced in prison, but it is the real deal and it is just a mere coincidence by name.

In the end our recipe was this –

4 oz (110 g) shredded suet
2 oz (50 g) self-raising flour, sifted
8 oz (225 g) soft dark brown sugar
1¼ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1¼ teaspoons of freshly ground cinnamon
1/3 of a teaspoon ground ginger
¼ of a teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
4 oz (110 g) white breadcrumbs
4 oz (110 g) sultanas
4 oz (110 g) raisins
10 oz (275 g) currants
4 oz (110 g) dried dates – cut into pieces, stones removed
2 large eggs
1 large lemon, zested
1 small apple, cored, peeled and grated
1 oz (25 g) almonds, skinned and chopped
1 oz (25 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
5 fl oz (150 ml) stout
2 tablespoons rum

If you compare the two you will see there were only small differences.

We used our own home baked bread for the breadcrumbs and making our own ground cinnamon really made a HUGE difference. The fragrance was amazing.

I did a big stock up from Nuts.com so we had all fresh ingredients –

Christmas Pudding 2012

The mix –

Christmas Pudding 2012

We made it on a Saturday, then steamed it for 8 hours on Sunday.

This was Bill’s coathanger invention to lift it in and out of the steamer –

Christmas Pudding 2012

Steaming away –

Christmas Pudding 2012

We let it cool overnight on our bench (with the kitchen window open) and then re-did the covering and string and let it sit in the fridge for six weeks. It then took a journey to Albany where he kept it in the mini-bar fridge of our hotel room until it was ready for the 2.5 hours of steaming before our Christmas Eve dinner.

I made a batch of custard in the afternoon and reheated that when the pudding was ready. Here it is –

Christmas Pudding 2012

Of course, I had to get some holly to go on the top and we picked up some from Jo-ann’s arts and crafts. When it came time to present it to the table, we warmed some brandy and had to ladle it over the pudding and light it. Um… I somehow thought the PLASTIC holly would be fine… I blame a total Christmas brain. There we were getting “Ohhhhs” and “Ahhhhs” throughout the room and then… bang… the holly caught on fire (Der Jenelle.. I was pouring flames right over it… and yet I was still surprised) and the holly startsed melting over the pudding. ARGH! The ohhhhs and ahhhhs turned into screams and yelling. I was holding a ladle with a flame burning, Bill was trying to get the holly and we were all in a panic. It was a scene from a movie.. seriously!

Thankfully, we managed to throw the melted mess off the pudding and into a glass without anything else catching on fire (or burning down Emily and Brian’s newlywed nest!) and there was also no residue on the pudding. WIN!

You can see the flaming holly in the glass in this photo –

Christmas Pudding 2012

So, regardless of the flammable incident the result was… PERFECT. I was SO happy with it!

Christmas Pudding 2012

Note – I also purchased some genuine 1911 silver threepence from England on eBay and unfortunately they didn’t arrive in time. They’ll be going into the mix next year!

What made this all even more special was when I told mum that we planned to make a pudding she told me how it was something her mum would do every year and send them to people as gifts. So because of that, I am going to keep this tradition going!

The rest of Christmas was beautiful. Our time Upstate was so relaxing. Went got up to Albany on Saturday morning, had lots of R & R and did lots of cooking. I took Bill on a surprise date – ten pin bowling!

Christmas Eve was lovely (even with flaming holly) and newlyweds Emily and Brian hosted it. Here we are –

Christmas Eve

Here is everyone else –


The desserts oh my gosh –

Christmas Eve

We also went to Mass at Holy Spirit –


Then on Christmas Day, we woke up to a white Christmas! Here is the view from our room at the Fairfield Inn –

White Christmas

We all got together for brunch. This is seriously SO MUCH fun. French toast, bagels, eggs, quiches… all sitting around and chatting and it was so easy!

Unfortunately, with no Boxing Day on the calendar we had to get back in the car and head back home as we had work the next day! If Bill ever becomes President, it will be the one thing he has to introduce to the USA! I need Boxing Day for my own sanity!

Also, for a look at some other trees.

Here is mum and dad’s –

Australian tree

The Johnson Family tree –

Johnson Family Tree

Emily and Brian’s –

Emily & Brian's Tree

(Can you see the little bit of Australia they put on their tree?)

I love Christmas… now to countdown until 2013! 🙂

Jan 28 2013

Tabouli #happy365

Via Flickr:
Made some tabouli to go with our fish for dinner tonght. Not exactly winter food, but I love tabouli so much that the minute parsley is on sale, I have to make it!