Family Toronto

Edgar the Bernedoodle

aka the Bernegoof

Okay, not really, I just came up with that today.

I stopped to take a picture of the city from the park – it’s cool and windy and the lights and the clouds look really pretty.

Picture of downtown Toronto skyline at night taken from the hill at Riverdale Park East.

And I swear the dog saw me pull out my phone and take a photo. Then he walked out in front me, sat down, and posed.

Same as the skyline photo with a large cute dog front and centre

I didn’t really even have a choice. So I thought I’d make this late evening post about the dog.

From day one:

bernedoodle puppy's face takes up most of the photo - he's sticking his tongue out.
One of the very first pictures I took of him – in my dad’s van that we went to pick him up in.
bernedoodle puppy lying beside pale, slightly hairy legs; you can see a pale wooden floor.
This gives you an idea as to his size back then.

…to today – uhm just look up a little

Oh wait – same pose again from October:

Same as last photo but dog is much much bigger

Both his parents were bernedoodles too – and so while the breeder thought he would end up about 45-50 ish pounds, I think he mostly sucked out the Bernese Mountain Dog genes and not so many of the poodle genes. He started off about 5 kg when we got him at about 2 months old (about 11 pounds) and weighed 35 kg in September at the vet visit, (about 16 months later; about 77 pounds).

He is definitely mostly my dog, though Q is getting more and more used to him. Especially as Edgar is becoming less and less jumpy and over-eager. And Edgar loves Toby but will spend ages barking at Toby when I leave for work or to go out or what have you. Sigh. Really not sure how to work on that one but we’re trying!

Edgar and I did a puppy class and then two levels of obedience. The obedience classes were at Dog Logic – and I really cannot say enough good things about Madelayne and her team. He goes to day care there too now occasionally especially when we’re both going to be out of the house for a long day! And it’s so much fun to see the photos they post on IG and that they send to me when he’s there.

Bernedoodle dog sitting up with a bright blue wall behind him. A small white dog is photo-bombing from the left side.
He’s being photobombed by Mikey – who has known Edgar since they were about the same size!

There are a couple of things we’re still working on:

First, not jumping on people when he’s excited to see them! This is especially true for friends either visiting the house or if we bump into them on the road.

Second, getting him more used to me brushing him. I really suck at this so we’re starting from scratch again – I’m going to try using a lick mat and some frozen peanut butter and just a couple of minutes at a time and we’ll see how it goes.

Third, I want to incorporate more “training time” with him on a daily, or really every-other-day, basis. Going over what we already know, adding a few things here and there (working on stay as I increase the distance between us; definitely working a bit more on leave it again – ahhhh garbage day walks are always fun; that sort of thing).

Sometimes there’s a lot of Sheryl Crow going around in my brain but I am very happy Toby finally agreed that we could get a dog and I am so very happy that dog is Edgar.

A selfie of a lady with kind eyes and grey hair and a round face and a scruffy looking bernedoodle

Oh and if you want to follow him on IG you can: @edgar_fluufle

Get Baked In the kitchen

November big cook

This is actually only about the apple cake…

So Toby likes to cook – and often likes to make a big pot of something. And it’s been a while since we’ve had people over so I thought we’d have people over for a late thanksgiving feast. Except Indian foods. ‘Cause that’s something Toby is particularly good at. So I’m not sure why we tied it into thanksgiving – because even US thanksgiving is next weekend. Oh maybe that’s when we were going to do it but then some people couldn’t make that date…anyway. Back to the story. That isn’t actually about the big cook part.

Toby made 3 different meat curries: butter chicken, beef curry, and a meatball curry. And then three veg: my absolute favourite saag paneer, daal and a mushroom curry.

My iPhone skills are not nearly good enough to take pictures of curries that look good so you’ll just have to take my word for it (and our guests’ word for the mushroom curry being amazing; no way was I going to eat it!).

One friend brought samosas, another brought homemade naan (sooooo good). Indian sweets came with another friend and another brought a lemon panettone. And another brought a batch of home-made Manhattans *swoon*

So… what was I gonna do? Toby originally asked for pavlova (his favourite) and a chocolate layer cake. So that’s what I was going to do. Until a couple of days before the dinner when we pulled out this binder full of his mom’s recipes from a while ago. Some obviously from when he was a kid because they include such gems as (for a different recipe):

…I like to use apricot jam because it is not sweet, Toby likes raspberry jam because it is sweet.

At least he was a normal kid!

There are also a few curry recipes in there, including one I remember from the very first time I ate at the house in Ancaster: egg curry. Toby says it’s a very British thing.

Anyway, I was flipping through and asked about “apple cake.” Toby immediately went misty-eyed and asked that I make it instead of the chocolate cake. (Note that the pavlova was likely never in danger of being superseded).

So – it’s a lovely, super straightforward recipe. And I have my amazing mother-in-law’s permission to include it.

Too many apples; and also used cinnamon sugar from The Spice Trader from last year’s advent calendar.

Ingredients and instructions:

Butter (or otherwise grease well) a 9″ spring form pan.

Oven at 350*

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Cream the butter well. Then add sugar and eggs and mix until smooth.

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Add the flour and baking powder and mix again until smooth.

ORIGINAL NOTE: Pour mixture into pan, it is quite thick

MY NOTE: The batter will be really thick. Really. There is no pouring here. Scoop it out of the bowl and into the pan; make it even though don’t press down too much.

  • 3-4 large tart apples – peel, core, slice into eighths. Press into the dough round side up.

MY NOTE: The original says in a circular pattern so I started on the outside and then filled in the spaces with smaller pieces. I should have taken more pictures!

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Mix and sprinkle over the apples

Bake for 1 hour

  • 3 oz butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Mix well together; pour over the cake and then bake at 325* for 1/2 hour more.

This is what it looked like out of the oven.

Toby got an advance taste:

You can kinda see the layer of the base then it gets a bit smooshed where the apple is and then the top bit

I was worried it was a bit dry. Because I followed the recipe to the letter. Which I actually do know I should NOT do for times etc because every oven is different and runs hotter or colder or whatever. So I worried. Because that is what I do.

I was thinking about what I could do and my brain immediately went to salted-caramel. Please tell me it’s not just me lol

And then of course, Joy of Cooking to the rescue and I attempted to make salted caramel sauce for the first time.

Joy of Cooking cover compilation from Joy of Cooking

The recipe itself was pretty simple and straightforward but I really think a lot of cookbooks would be a lot more helpful if they included a little more help along the lines of, for example here, “err on the side of pulling it off the heat a little early because once it’s too late, well, it’s just rubbish.”

It looks lovely – especially in my vintage glass jar. And it smelled divine. And tasted ever so slightly burnt. Sigh. But also 🙂

So a big lesson re-learned: Timing really is everything sometimes; the key is to know when it matters.

And also your friends will probably eat whatever you make because they know you did your best and even “slightly not exactly right” baked goods taste great when made at home with good intentions.

Book Diversions Reading Review

Bookish – 3 Ds uhm 2D

Oh I am so behind on this. And I wondered, do I continue with the Ds (where I stopped blogging about it) or jump to the Ks (the books I just finished up). I waffled. As expected. So I thought I would try to write the Ds and if it still came easily then I could keep going and if not then I would jump to the more recent. Let’s see what happens!

It definitely helps that I log everything I read – again, sometimes late but always eventually! I used to use goodreads but then I discovered it was owned by amazon now and I discovered The Storygraph at about the same time so I use that now.

And it turns out I only read 2 Ds. Oops

First up:

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

The Storygraph tags: fiction fantasy horror challenging dark mysterious medium-paced

Sooo good. So so good. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be keeping this on the shelf until The Mighty Q is a bit older. I think he’d really like the story though he’s still at an age where explicit sex scenes are “no thank you very much” and there is at least one that he would not appreciate at all.

And the other D… I swear, what the hell happened that I didn’t read three? Or at least didn’t log three. Maybe I’ll go stare at the shelf a little bit…

Nope didn’t help. If I read another D author I tossed the book. But I am guessing I just read 2 instead of 3.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

This I bought years ago from the remainder bin at the City Hall branch of the Toronto Public Library.

A picture of Toronto's city hall
By Arild Vågen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

My arrow shows where the library is; though you still enter through the main City Hall doors in the middle

The Storygraph tags: fiction historical adventurous emotional medium-paced

Again, not a usual choice for me. I am not a big fan of westerns. I mean they’re okay and all but not my usual jam. Holy hell this was good. Funny and also so so sad and funny. Toby said he watched the movie and it was very good. The book was too.

Definitely good enough that I picked up another one by DeWitt from a little free library.

Okay well, I definitely remembered enough to write about the Ds so I will just keep catching up.

Do you have a favourite author whose name starts with D? Toby might pick Roald Dahl or Phillip K. Dick. I’m partial to Dickens – he wrote amazingly well AND was a lefty 😉 And if I’m feeling pretentious I will lay claim to Dostoevsky as well.


Something about me…

For context, we (Toby, The Mighty Q and I) were chatting over dinner a week or two ago. We talked about how Toby reads books super fast, and how I read really slowly.

Q said he liked when I read out loud to him still (awwww) and I said I thought that was maybe why I read so slowly – I actually feel like I’m reading out loud, but in my head. Thankfully they got what I meant.

I mentioned how I thought it was so amazing how our brains all worked differently – like how I basically have a running narrative most of the day and that I discovered that most people can actually picture things in their mind. Both Q and Toby stopped and demanded an explanation.

Oops! doodle hand drawn vector typography

I explained that someone had posted something on FB and asked whether people could picture things in their minds and I realised that that meant some people COULD do this.

You see where I’m going right?

I cannot. I close my eyes. I see darkness. I can see light shadows – like actual light shadows, if you look at a bright light though a grill and close your eyes and you see the grill and light still? That’s what I mean.

But like, close your eyes and imagine an apple? My brain can describe an apple but I cannot SEE an apple. I see darkness and my never-stop-talking brain tells me about what I am thinking about.

A couple days later Toby asks “have you heard of aphantasia?” (turns out he was watching YouTube and a video came up and because we had just been talking about it he watched…)

Me: hmmm is that when you can like smell colours, or taste sounds?

Toby: no, that’s synesthesia. Aphantasia is when you cannot see images in your mind.

Huh. It has a name. Wiki link here.

First an objection – the definition: or at least the etymology:

derived from the ancient Greek word phantasia (φαντασία), which means “imagination”, and the prefix a- (ἀ-), which means “without”

Oh dude – I have GOT an imagination thank you very much. I am working on stopping, or at least slowing down, the worry spirals I go on imagining all the possible negative outcomes etc. Lack of imagination ain’t my issue.

I just don’t see pictures in my brain. And I really didn’t think very much about it because it’s the way it’s always been. My brain talks to me, it doesn’t show me pictures.

WAIT a minute.

My brain doesn’t show me pictures – when I am awake.

I definitely dream. And I have – what I have also discovered is weird / unique – the ability to remember my dreams a lot of the time and to influence what I am dreaming. Like to the point where if I wake up but want to go back and see how it ends, then if I can drift off to sleep again I pick the dream right back up like if it was just a commercial break and the program resumes. And I usually know that I’m dreaming and can change the story if needed.

So there you go. First post in ages and I thought I’d share something about me.

Profile photo of a white female presenting person with lots of grey hair and dark eyebrows; with dark brown eyes and a bit of a smirk. Wearing a blue knit dress with a solar system necklace
Around the house In the kitchen

Random cleaning chores

It occurred to me, probably as I seem to be inundated with “spring cleaning” e-mails, that there are some things that I really ought to schedule into my life. The things that you don’t think about on a day-to-day basis.

This happened to me also because I was reading a short story about bugs in a ceiling light fixture and looked up and there was a bug casting a shadow in the family room light fixture so I took down the five fixtures on that floor and gave them a good wipe and dusted the bulbs and stuff. And felt very accomplished.

So I googled “monthly chores” and “seasonal chores” and poked about a bit.

Somethings that I haven’t thought about cleaning:

  • baseboards
  • curtains / blinds
  • screens – like computer, tablet, phone
  • the in-house garbage cans
  • light fixtures

Things I have thought about cleaning or have actually cleaned in the past but can’t remember the last time I did:

  • the dishwasher
  • the ovens
  • the coffee maker (this is fine, I just got a new one!)
  • the outdoor bins
  • pillows

I am grateful that we have someone who comes to our house every other week and does a really good clean of the bathrooms and kitchen and also vacuums and gets all the floors clean.

So I made a new page in my journal for monthly chores, so at least I have someplace to start! I guess I will also have to do one for “seasonal chores” – I mean, I don’t think I need to clean the ceiling light fixtures monthly….but maybe they do attract a lot of bugs. I’ll have to monitor!

So – cleaned the dishwasher on 6 March. We pretty much run the dishwasher every day. Toby cooks a lot (yum)! and we’re mostly still working from home so there are lots of coffee and tea mugs and water bottles and lunch plates etc.

I took out the filter and washed it. Took out the spray arms and soaked those in soapy water while I wiped down the rubber seal and the sides of the door – how the heck does the side of the door get so gross?!? For all the general wiping I just used a cloth and some random “all purpose cleaner” I got in some eco-friendly cleaning subscription box of stuff I once got seasonally that has now sadly gone out of business.

Then I reassembled all the parts, put a bowl of white vinegar on the top shelf and ran a sanitizing cycle.

until next month anyway…

What’s next?

This week’s focus I think will be catching up on all the mending – Q has a few stuffies with ribbed seems and a couple pairs of trousers that need mending as well.
Also I need to get going again on the basement. I’ve gone through the shelves under the stairs, so next up is the actual suitcases. How many suitcases do we need really?!?