Strada and steaks: the cottage edition

On a recent Saturday afternoon during an autumnal walk at the cottage:

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Beast: Let’s talk about your birthday.

Foodie: Uh, okay. But it’s still a bit away.

Beast: I’ve already got you your present.

Foodie: This was my present! All I wanted to do was visit the cottage before it was closed for the winter.

Beast: Well, I got you something else. [Pause] It’s a House of Cards-endorsed rowing machine.

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Cheap eats: chicken fingers and poutine (on sale)

I took my mom to Costco in London, Ont. on Saturday. As we walked the aisles I saw her smiling at everyone she passed. This is typical behaviour. She’s a very amiable woman. But this time, something was different. It was as though she was attempting to will people to acknowledge her intense gaze, not so that she could share her enthusiasm over the contents of her shopping cart–“the shepherd’s pie is to die for!“–but so she could say, “Yes, yes this is Jess from The Social. And she is my daughter.”

Someone finally bought into it, and my mom couldn’t have been more thrilled. “I saw you looking at her,” she whispered to a  lovely young woman who was  picking up Thanksgiving provisions along with the rest of the city, “and I wanted to tell you it really is her. She’s my daughter, you know.”  The woman smiled, told us about the Brie on sale in the next aisle, and was on her way.

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A dispatch from Italy in 1,200 words and 28 photos

Nobody likes hearing too much about somebody else’s vacation, so let me tell you about mine.

I checked into my Roman hotel, a converted convent, and napped for two hours because it was raining. By the time I woke up, the sun was out. I stopped for some pizza al taglio in Trastevere. The zucchini flower, fior di latte and anchovy slice was a hit.

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The trips to Italy and lemon pasta

I leave for Italy in 10 days. I will be away for just over two weeks. It will be, by far, the longest the Beast and I have ever been apart. He keeps joking that he’s going to move back in with Marg and Dave, his parents, to get him through the separation, so he won’t starve.

This will be my sixth trip to Italy. The first time was a 1992 high school trip with Becky, Julie and my mom, who came as a chaperon. It was one of those whirlwind rides through Venice, Florence, Siena, Assisi, Rome and Pompeii. I remember listening to Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints over and over again on my walkman on that tour bus.

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Project home decor, plus pork chops

There has been a lot of home decor improvements going on in this house. Or, as we’ve been calling it,  project #homedecor.

We cleaned out the sunroom and moved in two new reading chairs that the Beast brought home from work.

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Edulis and one salty dog

A few days before the Beast’s May 12 birthday, I tried to make a reservation at Edulis for a special dinner. I’ve had two memorable meals there and wanted him to experience it. But the restaurant, which routinely receives near-perfect reviews and comes out on top of Canada’s “best restaurant” lists, was booked well into June. Eventually, I secured a dinner on a recent Wednesday evening. What should have been a beautiful dinner out, however, descended into disorder on account of poor behaviour on my part.

It started out wonderfully, despite the early dinner hour. We used to eat pretty late at night but these days it’s not uncommon that we’ve finished dinner by 6:30 or 7:00 p.m, which is why, I suppose, I made the reservation for 6:00 p.m.

We were the first to arrive. The doors were still locked at 6:03 p.m. But there were some lovely patio tables to sit around. The Beast looked so handsome in the evening light that I had to take his photo.

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Who’s afraid of ennui?

My first boyfriend was perfect on paper. He was the quarterback of my high school’s rival (edgy!) He was an all-star point guard. He was the pitcher for the city’s baseball team. He was polite to my parents, when I sanctioned any sort of dialogue between the two. And he drove a motorcycle.

But he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, which I discovered on a date driving into the Big Metropolis of London, Ont. to see a movie. I can’t remember how we got on the topic of dinosaurs, but I do recall him turning to me and saying, “Yeah, but how do we know dinosaurs existed? Like, actually lived?”

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