The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT


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Dining Out And Dining Injustice

Age to me, is a state of mind. Mine, of course, is presently hazy, but that’s been the case for some years now. I turned 68 on February 2nd and as far as birthdays go, it was just how I wanted it. No fuss, no bother. Just a good meal. The good meal I got as Nat booked a table at The Keg in St. Catharines, which is my favourite place to eat. I’ve been a “meat and potatoes” kind of gal since I was knee-high to my father.

The evening was very nice, as we sipped a gorgeous glass of unoaked Chardonnay and waited for our steaks to arrive. We were both well into our meal when we began to realize the steaks were good, albeit a bit chewy. Not so bad that we couldn’t finish them, but we have had far superior ones at The KegWhen a waiter (other than our own) took our plates away and asked how everything was, Nat spoke up and said they were just a little chewy. We never thought twice about anything else and began to wait for our regular waiter to return so we could order the piece de resistance – Billy Miner Pie. Suddenly we were greeted by the Manager who immediately apologized repeatedly. Again, no big deal, but very, very nice gesture. Then again, he returned, only carrying a plate of that spectacular Billy Miner Pie. How did he know?? I told him we were about to order that as it was my birthday and it went without saying I wouldn’t leave without a piece. He smiled and thanked us for our patronage. Can’t get much better than that in service and goodwill. It didn’t help either that he was good looking!!

As a younger sister of mine, Michele, has her birthday five days after mine, and as I wanted to go out to lunch with her for a good “bitch session”, I took her for a meal at the restaurant of her choosing. We decided on meeting inbetween Cities and had lunch at the Swiss Chalet in Niagara Falls. It was no big huge celebration of her 60th birthday, but we both had a great time getting caught up on family news, her trip to New Orleans, and getting certain matters off of our chests to make us feel better. Venting is always good for the soul!!!! Doing that lunch with Michele made me realize I really do need some ‘alone’ time with my sisters and I really want to do that again. It just felt so good!!!!

Since I was on a roll dinning out, Nat and I decided to go to Cafe Amore in St. Catharines for our Valentines’ Day lunch. Dear Thamazine had given us a gift card to this restaurant as a thank-you gift for wrapping her Christmas parcels. Really, no need, but who am I to refuse a gift card to any restaurant. I love eating out.

As I made reservations for 12:30 for lunch, I was informed that they would be serving from the Dinner Menu that day, instead of the Lunch Menu. We agreed, as this was the only time we were able to attend – the day prior and after February 14th were tied up with other appointments close to that time.

When we arrived we were escorted to a bench and a half-bench table. There was one full bench on one side and the opposite had a half-bench which allowed other customers to wiggle past to another area where there was a semi-circular table and large bench. As it happened my bench decided to shift as I started to settle in and I almost fell. I then proceeded to move the bench back to a more convenient location where my hands could at least reach the table. Whew, we were able to proceed.

It was no surprise when we read the Dinner Menu that the meals were going to be larger than any Lunch Menu and also more expensive. With our gift card in hand we felt we could manage the whole meal without too much of an over-flow. We both found something we liked – Nat ordered Meatballs with Pasta and I ordered the Lasagne. We also decided on a glass of wine – not quite as good as the other unoaked Chardonnay we had at The Keg. When our meals arrived, everything look great, except my Lasagne was a corner piece with burnt edges. We also received a nice small loaf of garlic bread to accompany our meal. As I cut into the Lasagne I soon discovered the burnt edges were there for a reason – the Lasagne had been overbaked, dry and not very gooey with cheese.

I realized I should have returned my dish, but there was nothing else on the menu I wanted. Everything was too large for me to finish and at those prices I wasn’t going to risk it. I also figured that if they gave me another piece of Lasagne that it would have been cut from the same pan. Again, the same dry, overbaked dish. I took some of Nat’s extra sauce from his Meatballs to moisten my meal a bit and managed to finish at least up to the burnt edges. The garlic bread was good!!

We decided to treat ourselves to dessert, which we don’t normally do. Nat had the Key Lime Cake and I had the Double Chocolate Fudge. Both were good, but nothing we would hurry back to have again. Turns out their desserts are Gluten Free. In my opinion if you’re serving decadent desserts at those prices – for God’s sake put in the Gluten!!!

We returned home shortly after 2:00 PM, completely full from our meal and feeling very bloated and heavy. Neither one of us are use to eating such bigs meals at noon time. We’ve both become very small eaters for every meal. We were also a bit disappointed about the whole affair but at least this treat was on dear sister, Thamazine. Not that she would have known any different, of course, but we still love her for the kind gesture. After all, her family has enjoyed a lot of good meals at Cafe Amore, so she had no way of knowing what kind of luck Nat and I always have.

Once we returned home, we both jumped into our comfy evening clothes and whiled the rest of the afternoon away with Nat doing his Crossword and me on the iPad. Our supper was going to be nothing at all, or maybe some toast and tea in the early evening.

It soon began to bug me – naturally, any little injustice always does – about serving Dinner Menus at lunch time on Special OccasionsThe Mandarin does the same thing, as we found out on Fathers’ Day where we were dinged with a $70.00 meal at lunch time. They do notify their customers on their menus about Special Occasion pricing, but it still doesn’t make it right. I tweeted about my disappointment with The Mandarin at the time and at least received their apologies for my disappointment. I then decided to at least let Cafe Amore know about my disappointment, too. In order to at least get this restaurant menu injustice off of my chest I emailed them from their web site. I don’t want anything in return I just want restaurant owners to realize not everyone wants a large meal at large prices at lunch time.


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It’s So Much Better Than We Thought

After some long awaited anticipation, our new deck is done. The only thing remaining was capping off the patio door, which was done this morning and Nat and I are ever so pleased at the results. Our contractor’s trusty helper even complimented us on using the white balusters for the railing. He said it makes it look as if it’s a part of the house.

The boys began building on Wednesday – digging holes for the concrete footings – and then commenced with the framing on Friday. With the arrival of Monday they continued on with the framing and building up the rails and stairs which was a tedious job to say the least. Simon even stayed until 6:00 pm to get ahead of the job and by Tuesday mid-afternoon they were finished. We couldn’t believe how much bigger it looked from what we had envisioned. Nat was also pleased with his idea of having one corner on an angle. Now, when coming around the back yard and first seeing the deck, it has a little more character from that of a rectangle one. Nat’s going to eventually add some plants around the base to soften up the edges, along with doing a little garden at the bottom. Tomorrow will now see us setting up the patio furniture and umbrella and I’m willing to bet putting those steaks we bought the other day on the BBQ. Nothing like a great steak to christen a new deck!!

Mother’s Day (weekend) for me this year, was especially nice. Nat took me to The Keg in St. Catharines on Saturday night. Naturally the restaurant was extremely busy but we managed to have a wonderful dinner and enjoyed a nice night out. Then on Sunday Susan, Tom, Felicia and Bridget took Nat and I to The Mandarin for lunch and, again, we had a wonderful time. I always get a kick out of talking to Felicia and Bridget. They’re both fun girls and growing up way too fast. Bridget will be starting high school this year and Felicia will be in Grade 12. Both Nat and I can’t believe where the time went and as with all grandparents, I’m sure, we never see them often enough. When we do we always enjoy!!

Monday saw Nat and I off to Grimsby – my annual mammogram – and then after lunch we headed into St. Catharines to pick up a  couple of items at Costco. I suppose I should correct myself – more than a couple of items!! We found a great package of steaks that we’ll be able to enjoy on our new deck, along with finding a couple of other bargains that we couldn’t resist.

After the boys were finished building the deck, Nat and I were alone again. He’s been researching the purchase of a new digital camera and for sometime we were considering buying a DSLR. We finally came to the conclusion that we couldn’t justify the cost as we probably wouldn’t begin to use all of it’s features. When Nat discovered that Nikon had a new camera out with a great optical zoom feature, we became fascinated. This was basically what we wanted a DSLR for – the zoom capabilities. The disadvantage was that you had to buy special extra zoom lenses at a cost we really couldn’t justify. So when Nat discovered the new Nikon‘s our interest was peaked and we continued on with a little more research. After searching a few web sites we discovered the latest and greatest Nikon CoolPix P500 was on sale – and bonusit came in red. By now it was 3:30 pm and with that look of anticipation on his face, I suggested we head into Niagara Falls to The Future Shop, ask whatever questions we needed to and then buy one. The sale price was good and as we’ve lost out on good deals before we decided not to take any chances. I told Nat we’d be back in time for supper and I was true to my word – even though I was off by 3 minutes! So we’re now the proud owners of a candy apple red Nikon camera with 36x optical zoom, along with an HD SD card!! We have plenty of time to get acquainted with the same before our trip to Britain in the Fall where there’s no excuse for a bad picture!!


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The Dull Days of February

This past month has been pretty dull as months go. I knew right away it was going to be a quiet one when I printed out the “February” calendar for the fridge. Not much on it for appointments – one for the Dermatologist, one for the Dentist and golf registration. As the days wore on we began to get a little complacent about going anywhere and were kinda getting stuck in our easy chairs!! The old tushes just didn’t wanna move!!

One day we took the bull by the horns, made a list of things we could go for and took that drive into St. Catharines. We’ll stock up on kaisers at our favourite bakery and then take a look at the House of Lighting to see what kind of new fixtures we could get for the kitchen. Why not. End of season sales and all that – you never know what could pop out at ya!! I suppose this was going to be another one of those lucky days that we’ve been having a few of this year, ’cause we found the perfect ceiling lights, on sale and reduced even more!! Plus a bonus!! They looked like “sisters” to the front hallway fixture. Gadzooks, we knew it was meant to be and plunked down our hard-earned bucks and placed our order for 2. (One was on hand and they had to order a second one in, and we were willing to wait.) We couldn’t loose!! With the smell of fresh-baked kaisers emanating throughout the van, we headed home.

That afternoon we headed down to Fort Erie and picked up a couple of new air duct grilles to replace some warn ones and freshen things up. So with our shopping over we settled in for the rest of the afternoon and watched the snow fall.

Nat wanted to take me out for a nice dinner Valentines Day and steak being my favourite meal, we knew we couldn’t get any better than The Keg. We also thought we would beat the rush and go a day early. We were wrong. We ended up calling an hour in advance (no reservations can be made on this very busy weekend) to put our name on the wait list and headed into town. Being early eaters, we were lucky and got seated right away, but the parking lot was filling up fast. As always a great meal and a nice evening all around.

The 17th of February saw me going for 2 appointments – one AM and one PM. My usual bone density test was scheduled by St. Joe’s at St. Catharines General in the AM and once over, we headed into Beamsville, grabbed a bite to eat and then headed up to the Medical Centre to see a dermotologist via video-conferencing from Hamilton. Razzle-dazzled by the technical set-up and the young man that confessed to being the “geek” that ran the equipment, the whole affair went smoothly. Dr. Murphy (from Hamilton) checked the spot by my lips via small video camera held close to my face and after answering a few questions, he explained how this spot could easily be removed. Turns out this “thing” probably stems from my teenage years after getting sun-burned a few times and not using enough (if any) sun screen. He understood that “when we were young” the establishment didn’t put too much of an emphasis on sun screen like they do today, and as a consequence we “older” folks are now seeing the results. Apparently this “thing” can appear years and years later and has a possibility of returning even after being removed. But the procedure is simple and easy enough and for the sake of my vanity I’m having it removed next week. I’ll have a constant reminder for the next 5 years, however, as I’ve since renewed my driver’s license and 3 guesses what showed up!!!

Nat and I have also been watching the 2010 Olympics periodically and enjoying the peaceful days that have befallen us. Managing to do an errand here and an errand there, we’re getting little things done that usually get neglected during the busier summer months. With the month of February coming pretty close to ending, we’ll both still be glad to see the end of it. Always one of those months where the doldrums set in, a bit of laziness rears it’s ugly head and complacency is abound. Hopefully we’ll get that spring back into our step in another couple of weeks!!


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“We’re Expecting You”, The Keg

February 2nd saw Nat and I head off to The Keg in St. Catharines. My only birthday wish was for a great steak in a great restaurant with my loving husband! How’s that for sucking up!!! As always, we had a wonderful time – a good glass of wine, a beautiful meal, a romantic atmosphere. And to make it a perfect evening Nat saw his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs later that evening kick butt against the New Jersey Devils 3-0.

As the rest of the week wound down, we had more quiet and non-eventful days, the way we liked. A day here and a day there saw Nat doing more painting of wall trim – the hallway is now done, the doors are done, and the fireplace has been done. (The fireplace was starting to “bleed” from the initial coat given when we first moved in, so Nat decided to re-sand and repaint in order to stop the previous stain colour from seeping through.) The whole house is now starting to “look” finished. Just a few small touches means a lot in the entire scope of things. While Nat was painting I finally finished our record album conversions. Except for one or two albums that failed to convert properly, our entire collection is done. I also left out a few comedy albums that I didn’t think were worth doing, but may rethink that at a later date. I’ll start to convert the tape cassettes and 45’s we have next.

Nat has now received his golf schedule for the 2010 season and you could see the twinkle in his eyes return. He’s chomping at the bit to get back on the course and we’re at least in the home stretch. We’ll have to get him out on the practice field to get him warmed up and ready to go!! I suppose it won’t hurt me to get out there with him and at least get in a few stretches to loosen up the old body from an inactive winter!!

Sunday saw us take a drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake just for the hell of it. Nat also wanted to check the hat shop there for a cap which he’s been looking for for some time. Naturally, it’s now getting a little too late in the season and he’ll have to wait until the new Fall stuff arrives – next September!! I managed to get a couple of the candy apples I love and with a small walk-about we at least enjoyed the crisp fresh air for an hour. With that we headed home, sat in our respective easy chairs and enjoyed the rest of the evening!! Could this life get any easier????