Swimmin’ In The Rain


Hey blog world! Today was lots of fun! I got to spend the afternoon with two guys who have a very special place in my heart, my sweet boyfriend Glen and my best friend Peter! Peter is super busy, especially now that it’s summer, so Glen and I were very happy that today we were able to get together with him!

Our day started at Marconi’s, Spirit’s new café located inside the Geo Centre. I’ve eaten there multiple times and always love it, Glen had never been there before. I was excited to see what he thought of it.

Glen and I were both indecisive about what we wanted when we looked at the menu. Adam, our server was a big help and was very accommodating to Glen who has a few dietary restrictions. He’s always very friendly, helpful and overall a pleasure to be served by. Keep it up Adam!

With Adam’s help, I decided upon the tomato and bacon grilled cheese and Glen chose the cod burger. He really enjoyed his meal, as did I! I’m never disappointed when it comes to anything at Marconi’s. It’s always a wonderful dining experience with absolutely delicious food!

My favorite part of being at Marconi’s today actually wasn’t the food or the service, though those were both nice. My favorite part was talking with Peter and Glen about what’s been going on in their lives. It’s not very often I get to do that so it was great catching up with them both.

After we ate, we went back to Peter’s house. A student of his and a few of her friends formed a band and they came over and played for us! It was Lauren Hayward and two others. I’m terrible at remembering names! Anyway, they were awesome! Especially when they played “Love Is An Open Door” from “Frozen”! Glen said that was his favorite movie and they should add a song or two from it into their repertoire and the guitarist started playing “Love Is An Open Door”! Glen and I did a little duet of the song and had so much fun! I also loved it when they did “Rainy Days” by the Ennis Sisters. It sounded beautiful! Especially when they went into three part harmony near the end of the chorus! I really hope I’ll get to hear them play again soon.

After that came my favorite part of the day, we went swimming!!! Peter has a heated pool in his backyard and Glen and I had been waiting all summer to get in. We were both so happy that we got to today! Peter got in this time too (last time we came for a swim, only me and Glen got in)! We were really happy about that.

The weather changed slightly this afternoon. It was beautiful all day, but when we got in the pool it decided to rain. I figured, a little fall of rain can hardly hurt us now! I mean, we are in a pool, we’re getting wet anyway, what’s a bit more water?! We stayed in and had a fantastic time!

We did “Pool Olympics”. I’d never done it before, but have seen it (I used to take one on one swimming lessons at the Aquarena and the Pool Olympics class would do their thing in the lane next to me) and it looked like fun! It really was. We did all kinds of different exercises. It was a great workout.

We sang a lot too! Glen sang “Rain, Rain, Go Away” and “You Are My Sunshine” to try and get the sun to come back out. It worked! I got jokingly upset with Peter for singing “Rainy Days” thinking that he might make the rain come back lol! Thankfully it didn’t. Peter gave Glen an impromptu voice lesson too. Glen asked him to teach him how to sing so he could perform in Vera Perlin camp’s “Karaoke Idol” on Friday. Peter went through a few vocal exercises with him. He sounded great! I’m sure he’ll rock on Friday!

We even had some races! First, Glen and I raced each other and Peter was the ref. Glen won once and I won once too. We had one final race to break the tie and I won! I was proud of myself as I’ve never been that great at swim races. I was proud of Glen too. He did excellently! He gained on me really quick and I thought he might win the tie breaker! It was a really close race!

Then, Peter raced against the two of us. My goodness, he turned into the Flash! I was surprised when I saw him waiting for us at the finish! I didn’t even see him pass me! I was impressed.

Peter told us he used to be a diver, play water polo, do synchronized swimming, etc. It showed! He did a really impressive cannonball to enter the pool! He also showed us a synchronized swimming routine. It was pretty. The best part was when he did a handstand underwater!

When we got out, Glen and I had a little surprise for Peter. A few months ago, Glen took the BeanBoozled challenge and nominated a few of his friends to go next. Peter happened to be one of them. I brought along what’s left of my beans and the three of us played it together. This is how it works. There are 8 flavors of jelly beans, coconut, chocolate pudding, berry blue, lime, buttered popcorn, tutti-fruitti, peach and juicy pear. There are also 8 nasty flavors of jelly beans, dog food, booger, vomit, rotten egg, stinky socks, lawn clippings, toothpaste and baby wipes. Baby wipes looks like coconut, peach looks like vomit, juicy pear looks like booger, etc. You spin the little wheel and whatever bean it lands on you have to eat. You don’t know which flavor it is until you eat it, so you pray that you picked the good flavor instead of the yucky one. I was jealous of Peter and Glen at first. I kept getting nasty flavor beans and they were getting the good ones. Eventually, poor Peter struck a vomit flavored bean and was not pleased! I felt bad for him, but at the same time thought the look on his face was pretty funny! He spit the jelly bean out pretty quick and wanted to stop playing after that. I didn’t blame him. Vomit is the worst of the lot! It actually tastes like you’ve thrown up in your mouth! Ew!

Soon after, my parents came to pick up me and Glen. The whole way to Jungle Jim’s (we went out for supper) we told them about everything we did and how much fun we had! Even at the restaurant, we couldn’t stop talking about our day! I don’t say we’ll be able to for a while! Honestly, this was the best day of my summer! I’d say it was the best of Glen’s too.

Thank you very much, Peter, for having me and Glen over today. We hope we can hang out again soon, and I promise no more vomit flavored jelly beans!

Leah

August Art Goal


Hey blog world! In my post, Spirit Art, I told you about my fundraising project for the Masonic Temple Restoration Fund. Well, it’s been going swimmingly! I’ve sold a lot of paintings in the past few weeks! Thanks very much to those who have recently bought paintings!

For those of you who don’t remember, or are new to my blog and haven’t heard about my Masonic Temple saving endeavor, here’s a bit of background. The Masonic Temple is the oldest brick fraternal meeting lodge in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is recognised as both a Newfoundland Heritage site and a Canadian Heritage site. It was built in 1894 using Accrington bricks that were imported from Ireland. The cornerstone was laid by Sir William Whiteway, the longest serving Prime Minister of Newfoundland and it contains a time capsule from 1897. Dinner theatre company Spirit of Newfoundland bought the building in 2008 and they have been performing dinner theatres, weddings, and various other events in the Masonic Temple ever since. Here is a picture of the Temple!

Masonic Temple

The beautiful Masonic Temple located at 6 Cathedral Street in Downtown St. John’s.

Just stunning isn’t it! Sadly, the many, many years have taken their toll and the Temple is starting to deteriorate and crumble and is in dire need of repair. Spirit of Newfoundland has started a restoration fund to raise the money they need to bring the Masonic Temple back to its original glory.

When I go to Spirit, I feel welcome, accepted and happy. Everyone there is so nice to me and I truly feel like I belong. The Masonic Temple is my 2nd home. When I heard about their restoration project, I just had to step in and do something.

I decided to sell my artwork! In doing that, I have so far made $180. That’s a wonderful amount of money, but I want even more!

Summer is winding down (Monday is the first of August!!! Where did the time go?!) and I have set a goal for myself that I hope to achieve! By August 30th, I’d like to have over $200! Of course, I can’t do this alone. I need your help! Please click here to view my Spirit Art Facebook page where you can purchase my original artwork and prints and click here to view my Buy My Art! page where you can also purchase prints, along with magnets and buttons of my paintings. I hope, if you click either of those links you will like what you see and buy something! It would be so awesome if I could achieve my goal! Giving a $200+ check to Kathie Hicks, Peter Halley and Paul Bugge (the co-owners and general manager of Spirit) on the last day of August would make me so happy!

Leah

Left Behind But Not Forgotten


In response to the WordPress Discover Challenge, “The Things We Leave Behind

It well may be that we may never meet again in this lifetime, so let me say before we part, so much of me is made from what I learned from you. You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart!

Last year was my last year of High School. Every day since I started, I ate lunch with Mrs. Hemmings’ special education students. It was the highlight of my day! They were my best friends. Each one had a heart of gold. I loved spending time with them.

Eating lunch with them on the last day of High School went the same as it did every other day. I listened as my friend Jake played a song on his keyboard, chatted with Roger the student assistant as I ate lunch and then played bowling on the Wii with my friends Race, Kendra, and Evan. Even though I was happy to be with my friends, there was a heavy feeling in my heart knowing this was my last time. I hated hearing the 1:20 bell signaling the end of lunch. When it sounded, I spent a few moments saying my goodbyes to each student and giving a few last high fives. It was very hard for me to do! When I high-fived my friend Alan I didn’t want to take my hand off his! When I got home, I made the sad realization that I may never see many of these wonderful, unique people again. I felt the quote I posted at the top was very fitting for that moment. I’ve made so many memories and learned a lot from these students and they will be with me just like a hand print on my heart. These are a few of my favorite memories of them.

One day, they had a movie day. I had no classes and so was invited to join them! I brought in “Annie” (the original version from 1982) because I knew it was my friend Katie’s favorite movie. It’s mine too! To make things fair we had a vote and “Annie” came out on top! We all had such fun singing along to the songs together! I’ve watched “Annie” well over a million times and each time, when Annie and Daddy Warbucks sing the reprise of “Maybe” it turns me into a sobbing mess!

It’ll be fine. No need to fear. She’ll be as happy as she was here. Things will work out much better than planned. It makes you smile when fate takes a hand. I know I’ll forget how much she meant to me and how she was almost my baby, maybe.

I’m tearing up now just typing that excerpt out!! Anyway, when it got to that part and I cried, the students all comforted me! My friend Katie held my hand, a few others hugged me and my friend Hayley gently said “It’s ok Leah! Don’t cry. I’m here.” That was so sweet of them!

When the students have a Birthday, Mrs. Hemmings always throws them a little party at lunchtime and bakes a cake! Katie is a huge Disney fan so a few years ago, on her Birthday she got a Goofy cake! After everyone had a piece, Katie went into the kitchen to help with the dishes. She saw Goofy’s vanilla flavored face mangled and missing pieces and exclaimed, with a look of terror on her face “Goofy died!”

One day, I was sitting with one of my best friends, Dominique. Totally out of the blue, she looked at me and asked: “What doing the weekend?” That was a first for her! I was so proud! I told her “I have a lot of plans! On Friday night, I’m going to youth group at Church. My friends and I are going to hang out and have pizza! On Saturday, I’m going to my friend Peter’s house for a voice lesson. On Sunday I haven’t got anything planned. What do you think I should do?” “Watch movie!” she said. My level of pride shot up even higher! That was the first time Dominique had initiated and carried out a conversation!

Dominique loved to draw. She was quite the artist! Almost every day after she finished her lunch, she would politely ask “Crayons please.” and when I gave them to her she let loose on the paper making the most beautiful abstract art that I thought belonged in a gallery. It was the most incredible thing to watch! She always seemed to know just what colors go together. Her drawings were all so vibrant and wonderful! Looking at them made me happy! She had her own unique way of signing them too. She loved writing the word “poo” on her drawings! LOL!

Every day the students would do the dishes after lunch. Mrs. Rideout, one of the student assistants would come into the classroom with a big wash bucket so she could fill it with soap and water for the students in the other special needs classroom across the hallway (my high school had two) so they could do their dishes. Before she left, she would always sneak up behind Hayley and put soap suds in her hair! The first handful of times the poor dear never saw it coming! Nevertheless, she would crack up laughing, as would everyone else! Eventually, she knew it was coming and was prepared. She would try and defend herself, but Mrs. Rideout still got her! She never misses! Hayley did get her back a few times though. Those few times were awesome!

In grade 11, I got a wonderful surprise from them! Not being one of her students, I didn’t expect anything from her, but on my 16th Birthday I came into the classroom and on the desk where I usually sit there was a pile of Birthday cards the students made for me! I was touched by this very thoughtful gesture. I read each of the cards and my heart melted! They were each absolutely beautiful! They were my favorite cards that I received that year. When I went into the kitchen to use their microwave, I saw a cake on the counter! I couldn’t believe she had baked me a cake too! I felt so special! It hadn’t been iced yet so I wondered what design she had chosen for mine. I was excited to find out! That time came and when she brought the cake out to me, my jaw dropped and I couldn’t believe my eyes! She made me a Spirit of Newfoundland cake!!!Spirit cakeAs you all know, I am a Spirit of Newfoundland superfan! This was the best cake anyone had ever made me!

I have a weak stomach. I can’t handle graphic things. When one of my classes (particularly workplace safety and bio) was going to do a gruesome experiment or watch something graphic, the teachers know I have a weak and squeamish stomach so they would allow me to leave. I really appreciated that in times like this Mrs. Hemmings welcomed me into her classroom activities with open arms! Hanging out with her and her students is a thousand times better than watching a graphic re-enactment of a workplace accident or dissecting a chicken heart!

When I was in grade 4, the special education teacher at my elementary school would take me out of class a few times a week to help her teach a group of 1st-grade boys with Autism. I taught them reading, spelling, and typing. Last September, on my first day, I paid a visit to my friends in Mrs. Hemmings’ classroom. I missed them so much during the summer and was so happy to get to see them again! There was a new student in the class who looked very familiar to me but I couldn’t place exactly where I knew him from. He introduced himself as Evan. Then it clicked! “Oh my goodness!” I thought to myself. “That’s Evan from elementary school! I helped teach him! I feel old!” I never thought I’d see him again! It was a really pleasant surprise! Even more pleasant was that he remembered me! I couldn’t believe how tall he’d gotten and how grown up he was. I was very proud of him.

I got to do a really cool science experiment with them once! We got to see, feel and smell the weather! I don’t remember what many of them smelled like, but feeling the weather was fun. I liked the wind the best. The teacher pointed a handheld fan at each of us. The blast of cool air was very refreshing. I didn’t like feeling the cold, snowy weather. We held onto an ice pack! Brrr!

Every now and then, they go bowling in the cafeteria with a plastic lawn bowling set. Sometimes, they would let me join them. That was always lots of fun!

One of the students, Jake, was in a wheelchair. Just like me, he loved music! Every day after he finished his lunch, he would relax by turning on the fan and his multicolored disco ball and listening to music. He loved ABBA, Johnny Cash, Johnny Reid and Great Big Sea. I loved to sit with him and sing along. I could tell he loved it too by the way his face lit up. I think the two of us sounded great together, especially when we sang ABBA!

In grade 11, my friend Samantha and I signed up to perform in a Christmas coffee house, a small performance in the drama room during lunch where students could recite poetry, do a skit or sing a song. She volunteered in Mrs. Hemmings’ classroom too, so every day, after we ate we would go into the kitchen and rehearse. The song we chose to sing was “Where Are You Christmas” by Faith Hill. One day, as we were rehearsing, Katie came in and joined us! We gave Faith Hill a run for her money that afternoon! It was the most beautiful rendition of the song I’d ever heard!

One of Katie’s favorite bands is The Wiggles. I’m a Wiggles fan too! I don’t care how old I am, doing the propeller is fun! Anyway, I have a few Wiggles songs on my iPod and every day at lunch last year, she would ask me to turn on The Wiggles and the two of us would have a dance party! We’d do the Monkey Dance and Hot Potato and laugh till we cried! I loved it!

One night, I went out to Jungle Jim’s with my family. I accompanied my Niece to the treasure chest to get her toy, and in the chest, I found dozens of clown noses! I instantly thought of my friends Mrs. Hemmings’ class. I took a handful and gave them out the next day. They spent all recess pretending to be clowns! It was awesome!

Friday was my favorite day of the week at school because it was fudge day! Mrs. Hemmings’ students made and sold fudge to raise money for field trips and other things. The fudge they made wasn’t fudge at all, but a little piece of heaven! I swear I heard angels sing every time I bit into a piece! It was so soft, creamy and absolutely delicious! It came in so many yummy flavors! My favorite was the seasonal candy cane fudge they made. Year round, my favorite was cookie dough! I was one of their best customers. I don’t know how much 50 cents a week every week for three and a half years (I had to come back and do world history over again last year) is, but however much it totals, it was worth it!

Brooke was the classroom diva! She’s non-verbal and in a wheelchair, but she’s still your typical teenage girl. She had a sassy attitude and loved to stick her tongue out! She also loved blowing kisses to all the boys, including teachers!

Brooke also loved storybooks. One of her favorites was “Red Is Best” by Kathy Stinson. One day, as she was listening to that book, I said to Mrs. Hemmings “To Brooke, purple is best!” That gave me an idea! “Hey!” I exclaimed “That’s a good idea for a book! Maybe someday Brooke could write it!” Mrs. Hemmings said, “Maybe you could!” I had never written a book before but thought it would be fun so I said sure. I went home that night and wrote “I Love Purple”. It wasn’t much, just 10 pages of stock photos from Google Images with two sentences per page typed in purple ink, held together with a staple in the top corner, but I hoped it would make Brooke happy. I brought it to school the next day and when I showed it to Brooke, a huge smile came across her face! As I read her the story she squealed, laughed, flailed her arms and bounced in her chair. My heart overflowed with happiness! Seeing Brooke so overjoyed with the book I wrote her meant so much to me. To this day I still write books and Mrs. Hemmings’ class is always the first to read my manuscripts. I love seeing their reactions as I read my stories.

I left many of them behind when I left high school, but their memories still remain in my heart. I think about them all often and wonder what has become of them. I sincerely hope that life has brought them all nothing but wonderful things!

Leah

“Where Once They Stood”


Hey blog world! Last night I saw the most incredible show at Spirit of Newfoundland, “Where Once They Stood” starring Peter Halley, Shelley Neville, Sheila Williams, Kara Noftle, John Williams and Keith Power. My Best Buddy Allison came with me and we both immensely enjoyed ourselves.

Allison and I hadn’t seen each other in a while. It was really nice to have her at Spirit last night and have a chat about what’s been going on in our lives and gush over cute boys! I’m going to miss that when she moves away next month. I’ll have to help her set up a Skype account!

Unlike the majority of Spirit of NL’s shows, this one is a drama and it tells the story of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and their involvement with the First World War. There weren’t many dry eyes in the theatre that night. I even heard sniffles coming from the sound booth! I myself cried several times. It was such a powerful and emotional show.

There were a lot of lighthearted moments in act 1. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite! I loved the opening medley of wartime songs like “Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag”, “Oh! What A Lovely War” and “All The Nice Girls Love A Sailor”.

Kara had so many amazing moments in the first act. During the wartime medley that opened the show, I was astounded by the high notes she was hitting and couldn’t get over how phenomenal her voice was! She sounded and looked absolutely gorgeous. The red dress she had on was stunning! I wonder if that comes in my size?

She stole the scene during the doctors office recruitment. She played a nurse who was assisting the doctor in interviewing potential Regiment members and at the same time she was looking for her “Mr. Right”. The way she swooned over John’s character was so cute!

As a recruitment effort, Shelley sang a song about only going out with those in the Army, Navy etc. There was some audience participation in this scene. Shelley sat on the laps of a few lucky men and sang to them! I love it when they do that. The audience members reactions are always priceless! John really impressed me during this song. He played the slide trombone, something I’d never seen him do before! It’s really cool the hidden talents that people have.

Sheila and Shelley impressed me when they sang the tongue twister of a song “Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers”! Try saying that 5 times fast! It’s really hard! The chorus is even more so!

Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers. Such skill at sewing shirts our shy young sister Susie shows. Some soldiers send epistles saying they’d rather sleep on thistles than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews!

It amazed me how Sheila and Shelley were able to sing this tongue-twisting song in lightning speed flawlessly! That must have taken a lot of practice!

Keith really showed his versatility in this show. One minute, he’s Brendan Button from Bay Bulls, lying about his age, calling himself William Fudge and stuffing his pockets with mustard pickles to try and be eligible to enlist, the next minute he’s a soldier missing his family and fearing for his life. He’s known for his drag and comedic abilities, but I have got to say, he is equally as phenomenal in serious roles. I think he was a perfect casting choice for this show.

The final scene of act one had me holding back tears. The boys were marching off to go to war and their families were saying goodbye to them. Shelley’s character wasn’t sure about her Joey’s decision to do this. She had a pit in her stomach and was very sad and scared. Sheila’s character was too but she did her best to comfort Shelley.

The first scene of act two was so funny! A few ladies from Britain had met the men at the pier and welcomed them by singing “The Maple Leaf Forever”. They decided to act “leafy” when they sang about the leaf. It was hilarious! The boys told the ladies about the similarities that they have with Britain and they said that they have deep roots within the country. They sang “Rule Britania” and Keith blew me away! I couldn’t believe the high notes he was hitting! Holy cats! I’m surprised that glass didn’t shatter!

The scenes about Christmas really tugged at my heart. Christmas is a family time. The thought of them having to spend Christmas in that awful war away from their families broke my heart and made those scenes in the show all the more emotional. I cried when John read Keith the letter that his parents wrote him about how much they miss him during this holiday.

However, I laughed when they read the response back! Keith can’t read or spell so he asked John for help writing a response to his parents. John took advantage of this opportunity and added in a lot more than Keith asked for. Writing as Keith, he told the parents all about his new, handsome friend John and that he wanted them to send John a box of chocolates!!

John Williams has a hauntingly beautiful voice. If he ever records an album, I’m going to add it to my bedtime collection (I like falling asleep to peaceful, relaxing music.) He sang a verse of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and my heart felt warm and fuzzy. Later in the show, he sang “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” and it was so moving. I almost cried!

In one scene, they were in Scruffy Murphy’s pub in Sydney Australia. That particular day was special to the Australians because it was April 25th, ANZAC (Australia, New Zealand Army Corps) day, which is their Remembrance Day. My Brother in law Ben is from Australia. It was really interesting learning a bit about his country’s history. Now I can tell him what I learned and maybe he can tell me more! I love learning interesting new things. I wonder if any of his relatives were part of the ANZAC?

After a rousing performance of “Tie Me Kangaroo Down” things quieted down and the spotlight landed on Peter and Sheila as the others left the stage. Peter played the piano as they both sang “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. I was holding back tears. It was sung so beautifully.

The last scene of the show was of two soldiers on the night before the battle of Beaumont Hamel. It was funny at first, they sang about what they would do when the war ended. Then, their Private came in and with just 5 words, the scene took a turn and my heart dropped. “Are we gonna be ok?” Seeing how scared they were and hearing them ask that question broke my heart. I cried and felt like praying for them.

The last song in the show was “No Man’s Land”, known more commonly as “Willie McBride”. Again, I was holding back tears. It was absolutely beautiful! What a way to end the show!

At the end of the show, Peter gave audience members the opportunity to speak up and tell stories about loved ones in the regiment. Hearing them all, especially that of a man whose great-great-grandfather was one of the surviving 68, was amazing. I didn’t speak up last night because I don’t know much about him, but my great-grandfather Harold Weir was a member of the Regiment as well.

I did some research today, wanting to know more about great-grandpa Harold and I discovered that he too was one of the surviving 68. His number was 8127 and he served with the Forestry Unit. Thank you great-grandpa Harold for everything you did for our province and our country. I’m very proud of you!

In my opinion, “Where Once They Stood” one of the best shows Spirit has done. I’m making plans to come back and see it again! This time with my Poppy Weir. I’m going to book as soon as I can because this show always sells out and I don’t want to miss our chance! You don’t want to miss yours either! This show is a rollercoaster of laugh out loud funny, touching and heartbreaking moments that will all make you proud to be a Newfoundlander. It’s something not to be missed! Call 579-3023 or email reservations@spiritofnewfoundland.com to make your reservation. Visit their website for dates and other details.

Back To Basics Day 2


Hey blog world! Be sure to keep your eye out for the blue moon tonight because the sun is splitting the rocks in Newfoundland today! For those of you who aren’t from here, that’s our way of saying it’s scorching hot outside! We don’t get many days like this so I’m very, very happy that today is one of those rarities! I decided to beat the heat with a few little treats from the dessert section of Back To Basics. I decided to make some peanut butter brownies to share with my family and to cool down on this absolutely beautiful, super hot day, I made a toasted marshmallow milkshake.

These were both mother-daughter projects. I’m capable of cooking a lot of things on my own, but there were a few steps in the recipes I asked for mom’s help with. One of which was double boiling the chocolate and butter for the brownies. First of all, I had to ask mom what a double boiler was and if we had one because I had no sweet clue what it was!! I’ve been cooking for a number of years in various kitchens but yet have never heard of a double boiler! When I found out that we didn’t have one and learned what she does instead (boils a pot of water, fills another pot with the chocolate and holds it over the boiling pot of water until it’s cooked) I said “I don’t feel safe trying that on my own. Let’s make the brownies together. You’re in charge of the double boiling!”

My part of the recipe was whisking together the ingredients for the brownie and the peanut butter mixture. Chef Michael has written down “In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, nutmeg, butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Sneak a taste if you like.” I’m never one to skip steps in a recipe so I did! It was really nice. I liked the flavor combination of the peanut butter and nutmeg.

Mom double boiled the chocolate and butter for me. I really appreciated her help. Once that was done, we added in the rest of the ingredients and then put it in a pan and combined it with the peanut butter mixture. Next came my favorite part. I dragged a spoon handle through it creating a swirly effect. It was lots of fun and it looked like a work of art!

This is how they look in the book

Book Brownies

This is how my batch turned outMy Brownies

I like how abstract mine looks. It’s really pretty!

No complaints at all about how this was written. Each step was easy to understand.

Mom had the first brownie and I asked her how it tasted. She had no words. She just mumbled in a tone that I assumed meant so-so. I guess she’s not a big fan. Honestly, I’m not either. The peanut butter sauce was nice on its own, but it doesn’t go well with the brownie. Also, I found the brownie was a bit sour, I guess that was the bittersweet chocolate. I won’t be baking with that again! I was disappointed. I was hoping for a yummy treat and it’s not what I got.

I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 10. As I said, the recipe is well written and easy to understand, but it loses several points taste-wise. This recipe won’t be photocopied to use again.

Next, I set to work on the milkshake. The service size is 4-6 (if you feel like sharing). I’m only one person! I won’t be able to drink all of that, and I also don’t think that all the ingredients to make enough milkshake for 4-6 (if you feel like sharing) will fit into my Magic Bullet! So, mom helped me half everything so that it makes enough for two, one for me and one for her. She also cut up all the marshmallows for me! The recipe called for a bag of mini marshmallows, we only had a bag of big ones. She counted out half the bag and cut each marshmallow into tiny pieces.

However, we both agreed that this is a recipe we will not be making again. It’s too much of a hassle! It’s a toasted marshmallow milkshake so obviously we had to broil marshmallows. Mom scooped the broiled marshmallows from the tray and into the Magic Bullet and it was extremely difficult because they stuck to the spoon she was using! It was too much hard work for her and she didn’t want to do it again. I agreed that all that wasn’t worth it.

This is how it looks in the book

Book Shake

This is how mine turned outMy Shake

Mom and I had differing opinions about the taste. I thought it was nice, like a liquefied campfire. If it wasn’t so difficult I’d make it again. Mom said “Eh, I thought it was disgusting actually. Very sickly. I won’t make it again.” The toasted marshmallow milkshake is a one shot deal. 2 out of 10. This recipe also won’t be photocopied to use again.

Today was a flop, but that’s ok! I got to try new things and spend the afternoon in the kitchen with mom!  Come back tomorrow night as it’s my day off and I’m in charge of supper! I will be trying out Chef Michael’s recipe for spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce!

Leah

Back To Basics Day 1


Hey blog world! Today I went to the library. As I was looking through the shelves of books, I found Michael Smith’s “Back to Basics” cookbook. I love watching him on TV! All the things he makes look so yummy! I decided to borrow the book. I also decided to blog my experiences with the book! Today I decided to try his recipe for fresh chili.

I first got out all my ingredients. I liked how the list was very simple, almost everything on it was in my kitchen. There was nothing too complicated or exotic that I didn’t know where to get or that I hadn’t heard of before.

I had to play a game of Where’s Waldo to find all the spices! I have several spice racks in the kitchen and so have to spend what seems like hours looking through them to find the spices I need! Also, we inherited one of the racks from my Nanny Weir and she has barely anything labeled! I don’t use that one because I don’t like playing guessing games when it comes to food.

I used mostly everything that Michael had listed, but I was missing a few ingredients so I made substitutions because I am a starving artist and need to save my money and I didn’t have a ride to the store. I used tomato sauce in place of tomato juice and garlic powder instead of cloves. I also opted out of using jalapeno pepper because I can’t handle spicy things! No one in my house can. I also added ground beef. The recipe is vegetarian and I wanted to keep the recipe the way it was, but mom told me to add meat.  (just a note, I love meat, but wanted to try the chili without just out of curiosity.)

Next of course came cooking the dish. Again, it was very simple. Chef Michael has written each step clearly in a way that’s easy to understand and he doesn’t use big, complicated chef words. I thought that was perfect for a kitchen novice like myself.

I began by sautéing orange and red bell peppers in a pan with garlic. The second I started, my nose was hit with an incredible smell! The garlic and the roasting peppers coming together was just heavenly!

Things were going well until I had to add the tomato sauce. This is where I found a small flaw. The recipe only called for one cup of tomato juice so I poured one cup of tomato sauce into the pot and it seemed like barely enough to feed the four of us! I added in three more. Also, the recipe called for the juice of one lime. I had lime juice in a lime-shaped bottle but didn’t have an actual lime so I just winged it. It would have been helpful if Michael had written down exactly how much juice was in a lime so that people like me with bottled lime juice won’t have to wing it.

This is what it looks like in the bookBook Chili

And this is how mine turned outMy Chili

I’ll admit his looks prettier, but I tried my best!

My family and I just finished eating it. You can see the bottom of the pot!!! That’s always a good sign. Mom had the first bite. I anxiously awaited her to swallow so she could tell me how it was. She said it was pretty good. That’s her way of saying excellent. I was glad she liked it. I was also glad that my 11-year-old Niece who is the picky eating princess ate it and liked it!

I filled my bowl and sat down to eat. I was really impressed! It was delicious! The lime juice came through in every bite and added a nice bit of sweetness to the chili. The recipe called for corn, which I had never added to my chili before. I thought it worked really well in the dish and from now on will always add corn! Also, it had just the right amount of spice. I was really happy about that. Along with the spice rack, we inherited a bottle of chili powder from my Nanny Weir. Mom put half a teaspoon in once and just breathing near the chili made us choke! It was way too spicy! This time, I only added a little pinch and it was perfect. I loved everything about this dish. Mom and I both went back for seconds! I also asked her to photocopy the recipe for me so I can continue to use it. I think that from now on this will be my go-to for chili.

I wouldn’t recommend this for a busy night when you haven’t much time to cook because it takes a few hours. The chili needs a long time to simmer. If you haven’t got anything to do in the evening and can take your time to cook, I highly recommend this dish.

This recipe gets 4 stars. As I said, there were a few flaws in the recipe in my opinion, but other than that it was easy to follow and understand, very simple and the end product was absolutely delicious!

Come back next week for more of my adventures in the kitchen! I will be trying out more recipes from this book on my days off, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! Bon appetite!

Leah

Sinatra On The Rock


Hey blog world! Last night I had the most wonderful evening out! My Best Buddy Machaela and I attended the opening night of “Sinatra On The Rock” at Spirit of Newfoundland starring Evan Smith, Peter Halley, Shelley Neville and Dana Parsons! As all of their shows are, this one was absolutely stellar!

This was Machaela’s 2nd Spirit show. Her first was one of Peter Halley and Shelley Neville’s Christmas luncheons last Christmas. This was my 27th show!!! Guilty as charged, I’m a Spirit of Newfoundland addict!!

When we got to our table, first of all, I had to dig into the bread basket. The sourdough bread is wonderful! I had three pieces! Once you start it’s hard to stop! Machaela loved it too! She was pleased to find out you can buy it at the bar and that it’s a relatively cheap price ($5). She said she’s going to buy a loaf next time she’s at Spirit!

When I looked at the menu to see what my options were for the evening I noticed something new, wine pairings. With each menu item, they recommended a wine that would go well with it. I thought that was an excellent idea!

The meal was prepared by Chefs Alex Pierson and Josh Kane. As usual, all three courses were delicious! The starter was a watermelon, arugula salad with feta cheese and a balsamic glaze. I like watermelon but have never thought of putting it in a salad. I was very pleasantly surprised. All the different flavors blended nicely and made for a very yummy salad! I would definitely make one like it at home!

Salad

The main course was a pork loin with a grape compote, served with mashed potato, carrots, and broccoli. The pork was perfect! Tender and juicy and full of flavor! The grape compote was very nice. They went well together. I cannot give enough praise to the mashed potatoes! Oh my firetrucking God! So fluffy and creamy! It was like I was eating a cloud!

pork

After eating the main course, I popped into the bar to say hello to my friends in the cast. We chatted for a bit, then it was time for them to do their pre-show pow-wow/pep talk. I got to be part of it!!! That is a rite of passage at Spirit! I was honored! We held hands and talked about how this is opening night with a brand new cast. The last time they did this show was 10 years ago at the Wilds golf course. Peter also said something that really stood out to me.

“We could be shoveling rocks for a living.”

Peter Halley

They were happy and grateful to be there in the Screech Room about to do a show, instead of shoveling rocks somewhere. Be happy and thankful for what you’ve got because even if you don’t think so, you’ve got it good! You could be shoveling rocks for a living!

Soon, it was showtime! The opening of the show was so cool! It started off with an awesome Sinatra medley played by the band, Sandy Morris, Frank Fusari, Boomer Stamp and Bill Brennan. Then, the stage was lit up blue and as Peter spoke there was smoke from a smoke machine clouding the bottom of the stage!

When the whole cast came out, they gave us some facts about Frank’s songs and sang little snippets of some of them. I thought it was really cool that “Fly Me To The Moon” was played during the Apollo 10 mission and was the first song heard on the moon! Wow! Evan did a fantastic job of singing the song. It sounded even better when the rest of the cast came together on it!

I loved that they had some audience participation in this show! Dana and Shelley went out into the audience and sat on the laps of a few men in the audience as they sang “It Had To Be You”! Also, a little later they brought a man up on stage and used him as a “visual aid” to show the audience the many different ways Frank Sinatra dressed. Near the end, Peter and Evan realized something was missing. The volunteer had the perfect outfit but needed something else, a broad! They called for one and Shelley came onstage wearing a gold, sparkly hat with a sparkly flamingo on top, then they thought he needed another one so Dana came out with a flamingo hat too! Frank has said “You either got or you haven’t got style” and I can certainly say that with those hats Dana and Shelley had it!

Evan and Peter did a whole set of songs together. When I hear their names, two letters come to mind, G.I… Gorgeous Idn’e! (Our Newfie way of saying “Isn’t he”)!! They are both cute as buttons! Along with that, they are both phenomenal singers and pianists and are two of the nicest people ever! They’ve got the whole package! Lalalalaloves it! Anyway, they both have velvety voices and together they were incredible! They should sing duets together more often!

Later they played the piano, which might I add looked lovely! It was adorned with multicolored streamers! It was so pretty! I actually can’t remember the last time I heard Peter or Evan play so it was a real treat! My mind was blown when Evan sat on top of the piano, reached behind him and played it!!! It was the most incredible thing! He played it super fast and didn’t miss a note! I couldn’t believe it!

My favorite part of their segment was the ending when they sang Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up”. It was breathtaking! I had goosebumps and came so close to crying! I gave them a rightfully deserved standing ovation after that!

Next, two goddesses graced the stage, Shelley Neville and Dana Parsons! They are both divas with stunning voices! They told the audience about all the girls Frank married and had affairs with. I was surprised by how many there were! My word! Shelley talked about Frank’s affairs (and I was very surprised that was plural) with Judy Garland and sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. I nearly cried! It was so beautiful!

Again, I liked the end of the segment the best. The girls gave a killer performance of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”! I giggled and danced in my seat the whole time! It was so much fun!

They ended act 1 with my favorite Sinatra song “Blue Skies”.

Blue days, all of them gone! Nothin’ but blue skies from now on!

My heart flooded with joy watching this performance! The song makes me really happy and the dancing did too! All the dancing in the show was impeccable!

Once the first act was over, it was Screech Cake time! I love Spirit of Newfoundland’s Screech Cake! I look forward to this part of the evening each time I come to a show at Spirit. It’s so yummy! As is the raspberry coulis that is drizzled on the plate! This was Machaela’s first time having Screech Cake and she thought it was delicious too. I was glad she enjoyed it!

cake.jpg

We got to see Evan in a dress in act two! It was my first time seeing him play a woman. He was fabulous! He and Dana played Dot and Nina, two girls from Stephenville attending a concert at the Harmon Air Base. Dot was hoping to find the perfect man for her who would sweep her off to Hollywood, or maybe even Minnesota! They were a riot!! Especially when they tried to grab Frank! It was also really funny how their voices went super high pitched each time they said “Minnesota”!! I nearly died laughing at the two of them! I hope they will make a return in a future Spirit show!

We learned that when recording duets, Frank and his partner would rarely be in the same room. They would be recording from different parts of the world! I thought that was really interesting. Peter played Frank and Shelley and Dana were a few of his duet partners. Dana played Aretha Franklin and did a spectacular job. Motown and Jazz are really where she shines! A better person could not have been cast for a show like this! All night, her scintillating jazzy vocals amazed me! I love her voice!

The Rat Pack gave a performance too! Dean Martin (Peter) was really funny! He’d had “Ti Martwoni’s” prior to the act and continued to have more as they sang! But, no worries! He read about the dangers of drinking so he quit… reading! My favorite part of this set was when Peter sang “That’s Amoré” and the others backed him up. It’s such a pretty song! I had a big smile on my face as I swayed along to it. It was lovely!

The finale was Frank’s most well-known song, “My Way”. It was incredible! All four voices blended together perfectly and it was magical! My heart felt warm and fuzzy inside! What a way to end the show!

Once that was finished, they ended the night the same way they always do, by singing the beautiful Spirit of Newfoundland song. It’s one of my favorite songs! It’s so beautiful and is always beautifully sung. It too makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy!

Then they gave shout-outs to their friends and family in the audience. It made me smile when they acknowledged that I was there!

After the show, I mingled with my friends in the cast. I chatted and got pictures with them. I also had a special delivery to make. I’m an aspiring Children’s author and have written several books that I am trying to get published. Peter has a young Niece named Lilly and Nephew named Michael. They are the most adorable and sweet kids! As a special gift to them, I gave Peter copies of two of my books to give to them. I gave him “Circles”, a social skills book that teaches social boundaries (i.e it’s ok to hug your mom but not your math teacher) and “Harold In The Kitchen”, a kitchen safety book. I hope that when Michael and Lilly get the books they will love them!

Last night was absolutely wonderful! I enjoyed every single minute of the show! Go check it out! You will not be disappointed! It’s playing again tonight, so get the smell of the house off of ya and go! Doors open 6:30, the meal begins at 7:00 and the show is at 8:00. If you can’t make it tonight, there are plenty of other opportunities to see this show as it’s playing all summer long! Click here to view Spirit’s calendar and check out all the dates. For more information or to make a reservation, call 579-3023 or e-mail reservations@spiritofnewfoundland.com

Leah