Ten questions from OvenMitt for Panda about their trip to Nice so far

Right now, Panda and OvenMitt are in Nice, France on vacation. At first, Panda was unwilling to submit to an interview, but after some goading and prying, OvenMitt was finally able to get Panda to answer some questions about her experiences on the trip so far.

1. What has been your favorite thing you have done so far?

“I have to look at my pictures. I don’t know– what have we done? WAZO Brunch? ”

“That was your favorite thing?”

“No– getting your hair cut.”

2. What has been the most surprising thing about the trip so far?

“Everything’s closed in the afternoon!”
(Specifically in Ventimiglia, Italy)

3. What has been the worst thing you have eaten on the trip?

“The egg-thingy on the plane?”

4. What has been the best thing you have eaten on this trip?

“The pizza? The pizza!”

“Care to elaborate?”

Shakes head

5. What’s one thing we have done that you wish we hadn’t done?

“I wish we didn’t go sit at that one place while we were looking for breakfast… The server wasn’t that nice. And the breakfast didn’t look like anything that special for the price.”

6. Who has been your favorite person we have met so far on the trip?

“The adorable twins at the park sitting on a bench”

7. Who has been the most annoying person we have met on the trip?

“The server?” (See above)

8. What’s your favorite thing we have watched on television?

“I don’t know– uh, Super Talent…That’s the only thing that I remember.”

9. What do you wish you had brought with you that you did not?

“My scarf…because it’s cold.”

10. What have you missed the most about North America?

“Restaurants that are open all day every day…no, can I change that? I miss my routine.”

“What do you mean by ‘I miss my routine’?”

“I didn’t really have to think that much about what to do for my day.”

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Weekend Update: A Rainy US Thanksgiving Holiday in Vancouver

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For the US holiday of Thanksgiving, OvenMitt was lucky enough to have five days off. Luckier still, he was able to spend them in his favourite place in the entire world– the Vancouver apartment of Panda! Here’s a day-by-day list of the time the two spent together:

Wednesday

  • Brunch at Twisted Fork
  • Ice skating at the Kitsilano Rink
  • OvenMitt went shopping for a winter coat at Hills while Panda visited her mother.
  • Grocery shopping at Safeway for mini-US Thanksgiving the next day
  • Dinner (pizza and salad) at Panda’s apartment.

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All ready to skate!

Thursday

  • Breakfast of leftovers from Twisted Fork and some delicious scrambled eggs prepared by Panda
  • A trip to McDonald’s for waffle fries and a Potato Rosti and Bacon Burger
  • OvenMitt cooked creamed spinach and warmed up the frozen scalloped potatoes while Panda picked up some chicken.
  • Mini-US Thanksgiving dinner of chicken, potatoes, spinach, and pumpkin pie.
  • Panda, in the first of her many coups of the weekend, introduced OvenMitt to the wonders of Flight of the Conchords.

Friday

  • Brunch at Lucy’s Eastside Diner
  • A semi-disastrous trip to Toys “R” Us to buy presents for Panda’s friends’ kids where forgetful, bossy clerks along with unwieldy company policies turned a simple request for separate gift receipts into a nightmare
  • A much more successful trip to Chapters to look at books and gifts
  • Dinner of leftovers from mini-US Thanksgiving dinner
  • A visit to Minami sushi bar for drinks, snacks, and a visit with OvenMitt’s teacher friend, Test Kangaroo, who was in town for the evening with her family and some friends
  • Panda, in another of her brilliant moves of the weekend, showed OvenMitt the movie What We Do in the Shadows

Saturday

  • A day spent sleeping/napping/lying around while eating leftovers and watching sports on television (Ohio State beating Michigan and the Canadiens beating the Red Wings— both in overtime)
  • Dinner with Panda’s friends the Test Kangaroos*– pizza, wine, cheesecake, pictures of the hosts’ recent trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, and delightful conversation

Sunday

  • Brunch at Parlour (sitting next to a trio of bros talking about being hungover, betting on professional sports, Juventus losing a stunner to Genoa, fighting, spending too much money at strip clubs, etc.)
  • Writing this blog post and enjoying the last few hours in each other’s company before OvenMitt returns to Seattle for a week of work before his Birthday Acknowledgement Weekend next weekend (and before Panda returns to work on Monday for the first time in six months…)

A delightful moment watching Flight of the Conchords

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*These Test Kangaroos not to be confused with the earlier Test Kangaroo

French Lessons

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This week for the US holiday of Thanksgiving (or, as it it called in Canada, Thursday), OvenMitt came up to visit Panda in Vancouver. While there, in addition to sleeping, napping, resting, relaxing, eating brunch, shopping, and other fun activities, the two of them have been practicing French for their upcoming trip to France next month.

Panda took French in school and has also been studying French on her own for five years off and on, so her pronunciation, grammar, and knowledge of idioms is at the low- to mid-intermediate level; OvenMitt, on the other hand, has next to no skills in French (unless a rudimentary knowledge of Italian and Spanish count as knowing French…). Panda wants OvenMitt to learn all of the restaurant-related expressions and vocabulary in the video, because Panda knows that she may not always be around and that OvenMitt may need to ask for things on his own. (No one wants to be burdened on vacation by a helpless piece of kitchen safety apparel, do they?)

Despite Panda’s accusations of mind-wanderingness, OvenMitt, however, doesn’t want to study more than a few minutes at a time– as a trained educator, he knows that there is a limit to how much new information can be processed in any one session. It’s usually better, in his opinion, to have multiple short practice sessions than fewer, longer ones. In any event, OvenMitt is sure that he and Panda will do just fine on their trip!

dsc_0629Besides, OvenMitt has already gotten good at using Google Translate on his phone to translate English into French. Check out this list of real and fictitious punk rock band names he recently came up with:

Noms de bandes de punk rock français:

  • Quatrième Reich
  • Cultures de famine
  • Gâteau à la mite
  • Discipline de dix dollars
  • Pas drôle
  • Ivrognes avec canons
  • Crâne de poisson
  • Poing à la tête

(If any bands would like to use one of these names, please feel free!)

13 Ways of Looking at Panda and OvenMitt’s Recent Trip to Chicago

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1.

It’s not every day

a Panda and OvenMitt

fly to Chicago.

2.

Weeks ago this trip

was just an absurd notion—

now it’s happening.

3.

Who knew idle talk

could become a weekend trip?

Next stop Chicago!

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4.

OvenMitt has one

big question for this plane flight—

will eyebrows stay on?

5.

One highlight of the

trip—seeing Test Kangaroo,

OvenMitt’s old friend.

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6.

A daily question

for Panda and OvenMitt—

where should they eat brunch?

7.

The pillows in the

hotel room in Chicago

were comfortable.

8.

Job for OvenMitt

on this trip—rubbing Panda’s

sore back and shoulder

9.

Hard to believe they

traveled all that way just to

see Montreal lose.

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10.

The hAbs would have won

if Price had been in the net—

all Therrien’s fault

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11.

Searched all weekend for

anti-Donald Trump protests—

never could find them.

12.

Wasn’t all fun, though—

hAbs loss, Cubs gear everywhere,

parking brake mishap

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13.

Despite ups and downs

the trip was fun, and the first

of many to come.

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Weekend Update: A Rainy Rendez-Vous in Vancouver

Panda and OvenMitt had many plans for this weekend– brunch and snacking, sleeping and napping, watching hockey on television and even some French practice. Happily, despite some rain and a few misadventures along the way, they were able to do all that and more!

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Here are four things you need to know about their weekend:

1) Panda and OvenMitt were very excited to start reading their newly-acquired copy of Jacques Demers authorized biography Jacques Demers: En Toutes Lettres (written by Mario Leclerc). Panda is always looking for an opportunity to read fine French literature, and OvenMitt has many happy memories of Demers, the friendly grandfatherly coach everyone always wants for their team, skippering the St. Louis Blues back in the 1980s. The book will take a long time to read, however, for these two non-French speakers. (Because of the slow going translating the words Panda doesn’t know yet, they were onlyable to read the first two paragraphs this weekend.) Luckily, Panda and OvenMitt have many opportunities to improve their French language skills each and every day (see 2 below)

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2) OvenMitt was very happy on Saturday when Panda showed him several episodes of one of her favourite French-language children’s cartoons (everyone knows that watching cartoons is a great way to learn a new language). The cartoon is called Le Petit Nicolas, and it’s great. You should watch for yourself, and you will agree that it is an easy and exciting way to learn French!

3) One of the most important Sunday morning traditions that Panda and OvenMitt have developed is eating delicious biscuits with butter in bed. The hardest part is making sure not to get crumbs everywhere! Panda really appreciates the way that OvenMitt carefully cuts off small pieces of biscuit and butters them for her.

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4) There was one harrowing incident, however, when Panda and OvenMitt got trapped inside the Coach bag they travel in. Thank goodness, the internet has handy advice on what to do about a stuck zipper.

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(Above– rescued from the bag. The secret was lip balm from the dentist’s office!)

For the past few months, Panda and OvenMitt have only been able to get together on occasional weekends– the next few months, however, will be different. With a trip to Chicago, the US Thanksgiving holiday, and a vacation in Nice, France all on the agenda before the end of 2016, Panda and OvenMitt will get to see a lot more of each other. Just as long as neither of them gets stuck inside a bag…

Top Ten List #1: Things OvenMitt Misses About Panda When They Are Not Together

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Panda lives in Vancouver, BC; OvenMitt lives in Seattle, WA. Not only are they several hours drive apart from each other, but there is also the USA-Canada international border between them. Their visits, therefore, happen only on the weekends, when they take turns driving up or down to see each other. Because of the miracles of modern technology (text/phone/email), Panda and OvenMitt are easily able to keep in contact wherever they may be, but some things just are not the same over the phone/tablet/computer as they are in person. It’s been almost two weeks since they’ve been together, and OvenMitt misses many things about Panda. So here is OvenMitt’s list of the top ten things he misses doing with and about Panda when they are not lucky enough to be in the same country together–

10. Eating brunch

9. Going to Tim Hortons for an Iced Capp and hockey cards

8. Watching hockey documentaries

7. How Panda frequently asks OvenMitt if he needs anything

6. That awkward moment when they are talking in the elevator in Panda’s building and someone else gets on

5. Rubbing Panda’s sore shoulder

4. How Panda gets a little more animated and talkative whenever she gets a little drunk

3. How warm Panda is when she is sleeping (even though the window right above their heads is open and it’s sometimes a bit chilly)

2. Watching sports on television

1. Eating biscuits in bed together in the morning

Luckily for OvenMitt, this upcoming weekend, he will be driving up to see Panda, so they can do all of these things (and more) together– check back soon for updates about their weekend!

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Above– the driving route from Seattle to Vancouver. The 2 hr 32 min estimate must be for some speedy driver who doesn’t have to wait at the border– in real life, the drive takes at least three hours.

 

 

In the Kitchen with Panda and OvenMitt: Grape Nuts Peanut Butter Toast Surprise

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Sometimes the story behind a recipe is as interesting as the recipe itself. Some recipes are handed down with great ceremony from one generation to another, while others come from hours of painstaking research looking through old obscure cookbooks or careful sessions of trial-and-error in the kitchen spent working out the perfect balance of ingredients and techniques. If you’ve ever been the recipient of your mother’s lasagna recipe or found a seemingly obsolete yet delicious German potato salad recipe, you know what we mean.

Some recipes, however, come in a moment of inspiration like a bolt from the blue– one second, you’ve never even thought of the idea, and the next, it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Grape Nuts Peanut Butter Toast Surprise is one such recipe, one that, once you’ve tried it, you will be eating and feeding your family for years!

The other morning, as they often do, Panda and OvenMitt were texting each other– she from Vancouver and he from Seattle. (In any relationship, but especially a long-distance one across an international border, it’s always important to find little ways to let each other know that you’re thinking of them– a good morning text is a great way to do that!) It was a typical morning exchange, filled with “How did you sleep?” and “Did you dream about me?”, when suddenly the subject switched, as it sometimes does, to breakfast. (OvenMitt is in blue; Panda is the grey)

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And suddenly, from a tiny miscommunication, a great idea was born! Grape Nuts and peanut butter on toast– what could be better than that?! OvenMitt has made this a breakfast staple ever since– and when you see how easy and delicious it can be, we’re certain that you will want to, also.

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Grape Nuts Peanut Butter Toast Surprise

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter (preferably crunchy)

1/2 cup Grape Nuts cereal (+a sprinkle for the top)

Bread for toasting as needed

In a mixing bowl using a rubber spatula, carefully mix the peanut butter and 1/2 cup of the Grape Nuts. Meanwhile, toast the bread in the toaster– make sure it’s crisp but not burnt! When the toast is ready, use a knife to spread the Grape Nuts Peanut Butter spread carefully on. Sprinkle a few more Grape Nuts on top and enjoy!

Note: Leftovers will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator in a sealed glass or plastic container.

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Bon appetit, everybody!