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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Soup Sisters

It is National Volunteer Week in Canada I got to kick it off in the most spectacular way!  Last night, a group of 20 of the finest people I know gathered together in a kitchen downtown to make some soup for Women's Habitat of Etobicoke with the support of four great volunteers from Soup Sisters 

"Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers are year-round programs where participants pay a $50 fee to receive training from respected Chefs, the opportunity to work in state-of-the-art professional kitchens, an enjoyable dinner paired with a complimentary selection of wine, and most importantly the sense of gratification that comes from helping others. Approximately 150-200 servings of soup are prepared and donated during each session." (via)

We were greeeted by four kind volunteers Margareth, Debbie, Mary and Betty.  They gave us aprons to wear and elastics to get the hair out of ou faces.  We started the evening chopping vegetables and then started to cook our soups.
 Outstanding volunteer Debbie from Soup Sisters adds herbs and spices while I stir the Spicy Jamaican Pumpkin Soup

 My Soup Family! Soup Sisters Munira, me, Saira, Marta and our Broth Brother John!

 While the soups cook and gets pureed, Munira and I take a seat and get ready for dinner.

 Actual sisters Saira and Munira!

 Delicious salad! 

 Chick Pea Soup!  A most delicious dinner!

Chick Pea Soup Sisters Mary, Rena, Samantha, Jess and Anisha. Their soup fed all of us and there was still plenty for Women's Habitat.

Hamburger Soup. This tasted exactly like a hamburger and was so yummy!  I want to make this one for my Mom with a side of fries of course!

Hamburger Soup Family! Wendy, Joelle, Amanda, Marta and John. If you look closely, you will see that Marta is glowing. She's got twins under that apron!

Tasting the Spicy Jamaican Pumpkin Soup!


My Spicy Jamaican Soup Sisters! Ruth, me, Debbie, Munira, Saira and Mary.

 The sisters that made the Curried Sweet Potato, Carrot with Red Lentil and Ginger Soup. Dawn, Melanie, Sophia, Vaso, Leslie and Tamar. 

Look what we did! The greatest part of this experience was the evening's cast!  People from all parts of my life came together, cooked and connected.  We've promised to meet again next year and make more soup. Pictured above from left to right: 
John - Fellow Toronto Blue Jays fan, founder of the world's first ever Pamphlet Club and hubby to my book club mate Marta. 
Marta - Mommy-to-be and my book club friend. 
Amanda - Co-worker of my friend Joelle. 
Ruth - A great lady who works with volunteers at Yonge Street Mission. 
Leslie - Another great lady that works with volunteers at the CNIB Library. 
Joelle - One of my cheerleaders in life who also works with volunteers at the YMCA of Greater Toronto. 
Samantha - Girlfriend to the brother of my co-worker Aaron's girlfriend Jess.  (So perfectly random!) 
Wendy - Works with Ruth and the volunteers at Yonge Street Mission. 
Jess - Girlfriend of my co-worker Aaron and also a fellow Toronto Blue Jays fan. 
Tamar - Co-worker to Dawn at the University of Toronto. 
Dawn - A peer of mine for many years. 
Vaso - My jolly friend and co-worker at Surrey Place Centre. 
Mary - Mary works with volunteers at the Central Eglinton Community Centre. 
Melanie - My friend, confidante, gym buddy and co-worker at Surrey Place Centre. 
Sophia - Bride-to-be, friend and former co-worker.  We both used to work at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. 
Munira - President of the Faiza Kanji fan club.  Knower of my heart.  My life line. Justin Bieber lover! 
Saira - Funniest woman I know.  One of my most intelligent and kind friends. 
Moi - Grateful for this picture, this moment, the people around me. 
Anisha - My university roommate and new mom! 
Rena - Anisha's best friend and one of the best stagette planners EVER!

Check out to see if there is a kitchen near you!  If not, start one!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

C is for Cupcakes

I started my Alphabet of Gratitude in February of 2010. A and B were a cinch and then it got so easy finding things to be grateful for that I forgot about the alphabet all together.  (Kind of a great problem to have!)

I am back with the letter C! Those of you who have dined with me would think C might be for Crispy Fries but I assure you that C is for Cupcakes.

Now let me tell you why...

Weeks ago my cousin Alida came to town to visit with her sister Farah. She'd been working in Kabul and has since moved to Washington.  Alida popped over to Toronto for a quick weekend visit.  It was so good to see her safe and sound on this side of the world.  At the same time, I have to say that I am grateful for Alida and those like her, who value people and their freedoms and take risks to work in war torn, unstable areas of our world.  She's one a kind. 

Speaking of one of a kind, Alida's sister Farah, another one of my terrific cousins (I have 30 first cousins, not including their spouses and kids) is also one of a kind.  After a fun book club meeting at The Burger Cellar, where I did indeed have some crsipy yukon gold fries along with Tiger Stripe and Moose Drooping ice cream, I met up with Farah and Alida at Farah's new house.  The task at hand was to help Farah make a couple hundred cupcakes for her nephew's birthday party and a few other events as well.  I'm no culinary whiz but I knew I could help out in some way.   What ensued was four hours of girl talk to the soundtrack of Michael Jackson and Sade.  Thank you sweet cupcakes for giving us a reason to come together, accomplish something yummy and have a most soulful discussion.

The first thing Alida and I did was to put the fun red crystals on these yummy heart shaped sugar crystals that Farah had baked the night before.  Pictured above is one of Farah's vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing.  Her vanilla cupcakes are my favourite and her icing is perfection! I could eat it by the spoonful.  I believe I ate three of these cupcakes that night (right out of the oven!)

We also helped Farah to put batter in all the cupcake liners as she got them ready for their date with the oven.  If you ever need someone on an assembly line, I am your gal!  You're looking at Farah's chocolate cupcakes with her blue buttercream icing. Delish!

The next morning Farah took all these treats to her nephew's first birthday party and if there were any left then I say to those party goers...SHAME ON YOU!  Although I doubt that there were.

Thankful for cousins and cupcakes!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Opening Day 2011!

With my Opening Day regulars Naaz, Karim and Kahzmir by my side along with Aneez chiming in via BBM and suburbanites Valentino and Ahmed, it was so much fun to watch the Toronto Blue Jays win 13-3 against the Minnesota Twins on Friday!  What a way to start off the season at home in front of a sold out crowd!

  The festivities began with a tribute to Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick who will both be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in June. Anyone up for a roadtrip to Cooperstown? 

Love this quote that kicked off a great video montage. 
Wow, can I get weepy over a video montage or what?

It was so cool to see their banners released. 
I'm hoping we can have a new one up there very soon!

This child has been to every Opening Day game since he was born!
Kahzmir is wearing his "Crazy for Baseball" t-shirt and judging by the 20 minutes of "Down by the Bay" that Naaz and I sang with him, he might have had a tad too much sugar that night.

Baseball season is back and I am excited to see what this team of young players is going to do!  Who is coming with me to the next game?