Friday, December 30, 2011

Ski Pants


Regular blogging will return Monday!  I hope you have enjoyed this week's Christmas pictures from my past and present.




There's just something so adorable about little kids wearing their ski pants and Sorels everywhere they go!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas "Baking"


I had a good post lined up for today about how I turned on my TV the other day and saw a pair of naked legs and couldn't get rid of them, but then I made some awesome things yesterday and decided I wanted to share them before Christmas, in case anyone was looking for a last minute easy thing to bring to Christmas dinner or something.  The naked legs post will happen though, just not today.

Because TODAY is all about homemade chai and peanut butter fudge.

First, homemade chai.

I bookmarked this recipe over a year ago and finally decided to try it because Saskatoon has BULK BARN now!!!!  OMG I went to Bulk Barn the other day to buy the ingredients for the tea and it was the best place of my life.  AND everything was so cheap.  Bulk Barn, where you been all my life, I love you so much.

So anyway I didn't really follow that recipe very well because cardamom is super expensive and so are red peppercorns and I didn't feel like using fennel or coriander, so instead basically I took the following ingredients and crushed them up and mixed them together (basically equal portions of the spices):

Cinnamon sticks
Candied ginger (cut into small pieces)
Cloves
Black peppercorns
Nutmeg (I used two actual nutmegs but then the nutmeg smell was too overpowering so I picked out all the pieces of nutmeg so there's probably just small tiny pieces in there now)
Black tea

The ratio of crushed stuff to black tea was probably 1:4 to 1:3 (that's about as much of a recipe as I'm giving) - but I think next time I would amp that up because it's not a super strong chai, but still delicious!  Would definitely make again and give as presents etc.


On to the PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW so freaking good, I am serious if you make this and bring it to a potluck or party or whatever you will probably be the most popular person there.

I used this recipe but used the stove instead of the microwave, and unless I did my metric conversions wrong it was too runny after only using two cups (16 oz) of icing sugar, so I added a third cup.  I also could not find unsalted butter so I used salted.  It still turned out AMAZING.

(Note - I used creamy shelf-stable peanut butter (the "normal" kind).  Normally in peanut butter recipes I use natural peanut butter because it has a stronger flavour and is better for you but since this recipe had to chill and set and then is supposed to hold up at room temperature, I wouldn't risk using natural peanut butter for fear that it would start melting if you didn't keep it refrigerated, until I hear of someone trying it and being successful. 

Oh yeah, also - DO NOT USE MARGARINE IN SOMETHING LIKE THIS THAT NEEDS A BUTTER FLAVOUR!!!  Unless you want it to turn out only mediocre.  Spend the extra couple dollars on real butter.)

These are basically pure trans fat, so I would not recommend making these to keep around your house because you will eat them all.  Only make them when you know you are going to have to share them so you don't end up getting  heart attack and blaming me for sharing the recipe.


The recipe says cut into 64 squares, and you will probably think that's too small, but I promise it's not.  The squares will look small when you're cutting them but trust me - this is so rich that you do not need that large of a portion.  And if you WANT that large of a portion - just eat 4 pieces :)

If you like peanut butter you will LOVE this recipe.  Even if you don't you probably will.  If you are allergic, it really sucks to be you.

If you try any of these, let me know how they turned out!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Poverty Zoo


There is a Tumblr blog I usually find pretty funny called Saskatoon Dog.  It uses that meme of having some animal face doling out advice or whatever in one picture, and in this instance it's a gopher making fun of Saskatoon.  My favourite was something like "Big night out at Earls / Wear new Lululemon pants".  It's funny because it's true yayyy.  There is a lot to laugh at in Saskatoon and this blog does a pretty great job overall.

However the other day they posted one that made me really mad:  "Nothing to do? / Drive down 20th LOL at hookers".

I admit with some shame that I probably would have found this super funny in high school and would have participated in this activity often, had I grew up here.  However, as you get older and start to think a little more about the issues of poverty and prostitution in Saskatoon, it's not funny and should not be encouraged by being posted about on a blog with a lot of followers.

Before you dismiss me as being oversensitive about this, please try to see my point here - driving down 20th Street to "LOL at hookers" is like treating people who are down on their luck enough to sell themselves like zoo animals.  Let's go laugh at the poverty zoo!  Haha, people who are poor and have addictions and 14 year olds being forced to have sex with old men are sure funny!

I'm sorry, no one is going to win an argument that the 20th Street prostitutes are choosing to be there because they made an empowered decision to be a prostitute because they enjoyed the work, rather than becoming a doctor or lawyer.  Because there are women out there who do make that empowered decision, and while it's not something I can truly put myself in their shoes and understand why they'd choose that as a career, it was, ultimately, their choice and I can respect that choice if it is honestly what they want to do.  But these women generally become higher-end prostitutes who work for escort services - no one who legitimately wants to be a prostitute stands on the corner of 20th Street.  You end up on 20th Street because you feel like you've got no other options, and that's not funny - that's heartbreaking.

Maybe that post on Saskatoon Dog truly is representative of Saskatoon after all though - as the gap between the middle class and the lower class continues to widen and the middle class gets further removed from serious, real social issues facing our city, it becomes more acceptable to treat those living in poverty more like zoo animals and less like humans.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ted Danson on CSI


I can't believe I am blogging about this but I just really think the world (or, my 9 Google Reader subscribers?  PS, who are you people?  You're awesome, all 9 of you) should know that Ted Danson has totally revived CSI!

If you don't watch CSI, or haven't in a while, but still want to be nice and read this whole post, here's a bit of background.  William Peterson, aka Gil Grissom, was the team leader on CSI until mid-season 9, and when he left the show the main showrunner became Laurence Fishburne, playing the dark but boring character of serial killer-ologist Dr. Ray Langston.  Because CSI has always been one of my favourite guilty pleasures, I kept watching the series after the departure of Gil Grissom, but kind of hated it sometimes.

After a couple of painful seasons of Ray Langston and declining ratings, his character (SPOILERS) killed the serial killer who he had been studying for years, who kidnapped his ex-wife and tried to kill him blah blah blah.  As recurring serial killers on CSI go, this guy was a pretty boring one.  Definitely no Miniature Killer.  Because Ray Langston more or less killed him in cold blood rather than self-defense, I am pretty sure he quit?  Or was fired?  I don't even know, but he left the show, and his character is now back together with his ex-wife.

And he was replaced with... TED DANSON???  Who would have thought, but Ted Danson is freaking awesome on CSI.  He brings back a lot of the old life that William Peterson brought to the show and is an upbeat, quirky character who just makes the show interesting to watch. 

If you used to be a CSI fan but gave up after Gil Grissom's departure, or caught an episode from the past couple of seasons and cringed at how bad it was, I'd recommend giving the show another try, starting at the beginning of season 12.  I'm not going to pretend I actually think CSI is Quality Television Programming that is Very Realistic, because it's not and I know that.  It's still sort of cheesy and campy, but back to the old style of FUN cheesy and campy, not trying to be something it's not.  It's no Law and Order (RIP) but it's back to being one of those go-to shows for when you need to fill an hour and want to watch something entertaining and mindless.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Coveralls


There was a time, a few months ago, that my job had me working on a special project in one of Canada's biggest cities.  Because of the amazing corporate rates, a large number of us were staying at one of the fanciest hotels in that city.  Full suites with bottled water and chocolates on the pillow fancy.  Dress code fancy, although they made an exception for our interesting mix of blue-and-white collar workers, because we mostly just waited for the rest of the crew in the lobby in the morning and then drove to work and put on coveralls anyway.  It was the kind of hotel where one morning the group decided to partake in the continental breakfast, and the hotel put them in a "special" room so they didn't offend the other guests with their sweatpants and baseball caps.

So anyway while working on this project, my Saskatchewan co-workers and I got to know some of the contractors brought in for the project pretty well (I'm going to change names for anonymity of my job on the internet).  In particular, a Brazilian man named "Carlos" had taken quite a strong liking to my friend "Amy", proposing to her on multiple occasions, telling he loved her every few minutes, and asking why she didn't want to be with him because he would give her anything she wanted.  I am not making this up.  There was another young man named "Joshua" who we worked with quite a bit who, while a good worker, was a rather annoying person whose girlfriend called him at work all the time and he was a huge jerk to her on the phone in front of everyone.  He was 23 but his voice had not changed and he had a blonde teen-stache that was obviously his only growable facial hair, so he appeared to be around 13-15 years old.  One time, he struggled to pull earplugs out of his ears, wincing in pain because somehow he had wedged them in too far.  Again, I am not making is up.  I did think his girlfriend was fake for a while until she started calling him all the time, because let's just say Joshua was the type of guy you wouldn't expect to have a serious girlfriend, let alone one who allowed him to treat her like that.  He wasn't the biggest catch I've ever met, that's for sure.

One day at work Joshua and Carlos mentioned that they wanted to hang out with us in the evening, and somehow Amy committed us to going for cheesecake with them.  They said they would meet us at our hotel half an hour after work.  I immediately committed another co-worker, "Alan", into joining us because I did not want to be on an accidental double date with Joshua and Carlos.  Especially since Carlos was clearly trying to match up with Amy, who knows what Joshua's girlfriend would do to me if she found out I went on a double date with her man.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot after work, we saw Joshua and Carlos getting into Joshua's car with their dirty coveralls on.  "Do those guys ever take their coveralls off?" asked someone in the vehicle.  We all laughed.

Half an hour later, I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel with Alan, who I had just convinced NOT to ditch out on the almost-double date at the last minute.  Suddenly, into the lobby marched Joshua...

IN HIS COVERALLS.  "Hey guys!  Where's the bathroom??" he announced loudly.  All the super rich people stared.  Alan showed him to the bathroom, where I hoped he was planning on changing.  Nope.  Out he marched again.  "That is one fancy bathroom!"  The front desk staff was looking horrified.  The security guard didn't seem to know whether he should escort this dirty-coverall-adorned teenager out of the lobby or not.  We told Joshua we'd meet him at his car as soon as Amy came down, so he left, and 10 minutes later we found him stripping out of his coveralls beside his car about a block away from the hotel.

I wonder if that hotel will ever let us back.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Weekly Commute


In my early twenties, to my dismay, I started developing motion sickness.  I remember the first time I ever experienced it, sitting on a plane that was being de-iced on the runway in super windy conditions.  The plane was rocking back and forth and I started feeling really sick - luckily we took off soon after and the ride smoothed out.  But after that, bumpy flights, motion simulator rides, and even sometimes roller coasters make me queasy.

I fight this condition with the miracle of Gravol.  Without Gravol, I would not be able to work at my current job because the low flights up north are often extremely rough.  (And also, as a lover of Disney theme parks, Gravol is going to have to come along on future trips because I am not giving up Space Mountain.)  Usually I can get away with taking only half a tablet, but if the flight is extra bumpy I often regret my choice.  As is what happened last week when I was flying up to work.

I should have checked the full weather forecast before I left because the wind up north was insane - the kind of wind where when you walk into it, it's hard to breathe.  But, usually winter flights are relatively smooth compared to summer flights so I just popped half a Gravol about an hour and a half before the flight.

As we started to get slightly farther north (past Prince Albert), the flight started getting bumpy.  I hoped my half a Gravol would sustain me, and it seemed to be okay until around the time we were starting to go in for the landing.  The plane was bouncing all over the place.  "If we don't land in the next couple of minutes I am going to puke" I thought.  I looked out the window.  The ground got closer, closer, closer... we're almost there...

And then we veered up again.  It sometimes happens that turbulence or whatever causes the pilot to not trust the landing fully so another try or two are needed to get down safely.  At this point, I was really fighting with my stomach.  I had broken into a sweat and was basically doing Lamaze-type heavy breathing to try and keep the donut, bag of chips, and ginger ale I'd had on the flight down.  We flew a few km away and turned around, all the while flying very low in extreme turbulence.

"Please, PLEASE do not let me be That Girl who throws up on the plane," I thought.  And then "I need the bag."  I have never actually had to ready the barf bag, but the situation called for it.  I grabbed the bag, propped it open, and continued my deep breathing.  About 10 seconds before I knew the vomiting would begin, we landed.  Crisis averted!

"It's okay, you did great.  We're safe now.  These pilots do a good job, they know what they're doing" the guy sitting next to me, who I had never seen before, said.  "Oh, I wasn't scared.  I just have bad motion sickness and I was going to puke" I replied. "Do you come up here often?" he asked, indicating that he didn't believe me and figured it was my first flight ever. 

I received better consolation than the type my seat-mate tried to provide a little later in the day, when I learned that at least half of the other people on the plane had also almost puked, and two actually had.  From now on, I am checking the wind speeds before I fly.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gift Idea


I think I am finally a grownup because as Christmas approaches I don't really care if I get any presents but I LOVE buying stuff for other people.  I pride myself on being an excellent gift-giver, i.e. you will never get a (lazy) gift card from me; you will always get a REAL gift that you will love.  Sometimes I get so many good ideas that I start passing them on to other people.

So now you are probably like "great, thanks for all the bragging, however I am poor with a limited budget and also suck at gift-giving so what is rubbing my nose in all this accomplishing???"  Don't worry, I am leading up to one of my Very Good Gift Ideas that you can use and can fit into even the most limited of budgets.  And it can work for anyone on your list, for any occasion (not just Christmas).

The Very Good Gift Idea is: a photo collage!  The cost of this gift includes a cheap frame and printing off a photo in whatever size you choose, and maybe the cost of good collage software if you so desire (but not necessary).  It's meaningful and shows that you put some personal time into making it, which is says more than that you put some personal time into buying a gift card.

I have given a few photo collages and not only are they fun to make (because you get to go through all your pictures of you and the person you're giving the collage to and relive some fun memories, etc.) but they are super fun to give.

I'd recommend a program like Collage Maker because it's easy to use and manipulate, even though some of the built-in backgrounds are super ugly.  (I tried out quite lot of free collage software a while ago and this one seemed to be the best of the 4 or 5 I tried.) Choose your photo size, and once the program creates an auto-collage for you, drag the photos to different spots, make them bigger, add borders, and basically tweak it until you have exactly what you want.  Then just save as a .jpg and upload it to Walmart or wherever and go pick it up from the store in an hour (pick up a frame at the same time)!  Collage Maker is just a 30 day trial so I don't know how much they try to charge you once the trial ends, but if it turns out collage making is your calling it might be worth it to pay 20 bucks or whatever for the software.

Try it out!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Yogi the Model


Brahm's family has a little Havanese dog named Yogi.  Yogi is super cute and funny and above all, very photogenic.  His willingness to sit anywhere you put him while you take a picture is truly remarkable, and something my future-sis-in-law Jamie takes full advantage of.

If you like pictures of cute dogs in funny places, today is your lucky day.

Hello Yogi!

Yogi, dogs are not supposed to be using step ladders!

How did you get up there Yogi???

Or up there?

Or up there?

Now that is a height that's a little more appropriate for a tiny dog!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Yogi!

Is that your spoon and coffee Yogi?

YOGI if you want to drive a car you need to be INSIDE!

YOGI, garbage cans are for raccoons to climb on, not tiny dogs!

Oh no Yogi how did you get up in the cupboard???

Someone just got home from the G-R-O-O-M-E-R!

I'm going to tell you right now to go ahead and bookmark this post because you KNOW you will want to come back to it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Royal Wedding Fever


I went to the post office (aka Shoppers Drug Mart because do actual post offices exist that are not in drug stores anymore??) the other night with Sherri to pick up a parcel.  As I was waiting I remembered that I had recently used up my last stamp to mail something and, since it is always good to have stamps around, I decided to buy a package of 10 stamps. 

The post office woman was looking for my parcel in the back and Sherri and I perused the new "collector" sets of stamps.  There was one for the International Year of Chemistry, and being nerds, we were hoping I would get that set.  Although, perhaps the Christmas set would be nice, or even just the regular old flags or Canadian scenery or Queen Elizabeth faces would be fine.  But hopefully it would be the chemistry stamps.

So of course, we had no other option but to burst out laughing when the post office woman opened her drawer of stamps and gave me a package of THESE:

(Source:  Canada Post.  I didn't get the whole keepsake kit, just the stamps of Will and Kate that they are obviously trying to get rid of.)

So here's to a year or so of everyone I send correspondence to thinking I am a big Royal Wedding fan!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Ah, Saskatoon Airport


Overheard in the Saskatoon airport:

"Would the owner of a Ford Explorer, license plate ------ please move your car as you are parked in a no parking zone.  You will get a ticket if you do not move your car."

Huh?  Just write the ticket!  But good to know at YXE they will give you a warning before ticketing you.

Ah, the charms of a small airport :)


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Sleeping Blanket


There is a certain blanket that Eddie Bauer calls its "Down and Fleece Throw" but I call The Sleeping Blanket.

People, this blanket is amazing.  Combine a down-filled quilt with a supersoft blanket on one side and you get the most comfortable, cozy, warm blanket you can possibly imagine.  It is also somewhat of a magic blanket because within 5 minutes of getting underneath it you will start falling asleep, which is why I call it The Sleeping Blanket.

My mom's been buying Sleeping Blankets for my sisters and I for a few Christmases and I also bought one for Brahm a few years ago, and he agrees that it is a magic sleep-inducing blanket.  Put it over you and warm cozy comfort is yours.  The only logical next step is sleep.

The downside of The Sleeping Blanket is if you cover up with it when you still have things to do that day, you can basically kiss your productivity goodbye because it is very difficult to not get trapped by The Sleeping Blanket.  This is the kind of blanket that makes you feel like all is right in the world and you don't want to be anywhere else other than under that blanket for the rest of your life.

(Photo source:  eddiebauer.com)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Quest for the Dress Part II


And now, as promised, the happy near-ending to my dress shopping frustration.

I mentioned in my other post that my next step was to try on bridesmaid dresses that could be ordered in ivory.  LADIES WHO ARE GETTING MARRIED:  listen up!!!!  This was maybe one of my smartest ideas in life.  If you want a simple, non-poofy wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses in ivory or white are where it's at.

My friend Danielle and I went to two wedding stores and found so many dresses that were more in tune with what I want in a dress.  I was actually pulling dresses off the rack and actually looking forward to trying them on rather than being like "well I guess I have to try SOMETHING on and maybe this will look okay."

I found 3 dresses I liked at one store and I think 5 at the other store - people, this did NOT happen when I was trying on actual wedding dresses.  When I was trying on actual wedding dresses I found 3 dresses I liked IN TOTAL from looking at 4 different stores.

Maybe the best bonus of all from this - the most expensive dress was $323, and the rest were all under $250.  I am going to be bragging about my cheap wedding dress so much.

Am I perhaps actually excited to get a dress now?  I think I am!  Knowing that I have a pool of several dresses that I like enough that I would wear any one of them to my wedding and all I have to do is pick which one I like best is a nice relief.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jeans Wedding


On the note of sweatpants and wedding dresses, I recently remembered that when I was a sweatpants-wearing kid, I somehow got the idea into my head that I was going to have a "jeans wedding."  Meaning, everyone (including me) would wear jeans.  And knowing my fashion sense at the time, probably denim shirts to match.

Please try to picture this without throwing up in your mouth.  I am all for getting married in what you feel comfortable in but maybe I would draw the line at jeans with a matching denim shirt.

I guess there would be a lot of something blues anyway.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Recipe to Riches


I don't know if you've heard of the Food Network/Global TV show Recipe to Riches, but I have to say I am super impressed by it.  Not necessarily by the show itself (although I caught one episode and it was a decent, fun show), but more by the concept.  Like, whoever thought of the idea for the show should be promoted to the Loblaws president of marketing, stat.

The premise of the show is a cooking competition reality show, which are all the rage right now, with sort of an American Idol type audition twist - real home cooks from across the country brought in their specialties to open auditions to compete for the chance for their food to become a President's Choice product.  The judges pick a few people from the auditions to advance in certain categories (snacks, savoury pies, etc.) and then the finalists compete for best taste, marketing, etc. and then the winning food from each category becomes a PC product.

The smartest part of the whole premise is that for anyone watching the show, or who at least knows the premise of the show somewhat, if they see the product in the store they know it's something that was invented by a real person and taste tested by a ton of people before winning a coveted spot on the PC menu.  So you can feel confident that you aren't wasting your money by purchasing it because it must be good if it beat out thousands of other recipes, and if you actually watched the episode where it won, chances are you'll want to run out to Superstore and try it out.  And while you're there you'll probably pick up a few other groceries too.

Brilliant.  Ultimately this cooking competition show is just one big PC commercial (although there isn't much mention of PC other than at the end when they announce the prize and Galen Weston shows up to help judge, which is another intelligent move - keep the advertising as subtle as possible) but even though I understand that, I actually think that any company who can come up with such a smart marketing idea almost deserves my business.

Nice work, Loblaws.  I for one am actually very excited to try some of the winning recipes.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Quest for the Dress


You might recall how I was planning on having wedding dress shopping be as painless and easy as possible... HA, as if that was going to happen.  I don't understand why it is so hard to find a dress that is not poofy and not over a thousand dollars - shouldn't affordable, simple dresses be a dime a dozen?  Apparently not.

I've now been to all 4 bridal shops in Saskatoon and found 3 dresses I might consider buying but still not totally what I'm looking for.  I've resigned myself to the fact that I might have to wear strapless or add straps onto a strapless dress because the non-strapless style I'm looking for just doesn't seem to exist, and I don't care enough about finding The Perfect Dress that I will travel out of province to look for it.  The next step in this process that I'm getting sick of is look at bridesmaid dresses that can be ordered in ivory. 

Megan and I were looking through a bridal magazine at hideous dress after hideous dress and all of a sudden we both saw a dress we liked - who was the designer?  Of course it would turn out that the ONLY dress we liked in the entire magazine was in an ad for menswear!  The one dress I like, and the bride is just a prop for the guy's tux.

So anyway I feel a little bit like a bad bride because all the other girls who are trying on dresses in the store are like WOOOOOOOOO I JUST GOT ENGAGED YESTERDAY AND I ALREADY FOUND MY DRESS AND I'M SO EXCITED TO BE TRYING ON ALL THESE DRESSESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! and I'm just sort of like, meh, and getting slightly frustrated that every dress is a size 12 so I have no idea what it would actually look like on me if it came in my size.  I'm sure the bridal consultants think I am super weird or socially inept or something because I'm not like DRESSES YAY SHOPPING YAY LOOK AT MY RING YAY YAY but what can you do.  Maybe I should stop making fun of the dresses.

The truth is I do want to really like, perhaps love, my dress as I'll probably be displaying pictures of myself in it for the rest of my life, but I don't want it to be the focal point of my wedding.  I don't want people to be like "you know what my favourite part of that wedding was, her DRESS" so I'm not really associating it with my wedding in the sense that it's an important part of the day, so it just feels like something I have to shop for rather than something I'm super excited to find.

I AM super excited to shop for things like a house, a stand mixer, a fancy washer and dryer, a puppy, a BBQ, and all that stuff that will actually contribute to having a fun married life.  There is no doubt in my mind that when we go and make our registry that I will be as excited as all the girls in the bridal shops.  Unfortunately before I can start looking for that stuff I have to find a dress.

UPDATE:  I actually wrote this post on Sunday so there is a happy ending to my venting!  Stay tuned for Part II coming soon!




Monday, November 21, 2011

The Same


Every year when the weather starts getting colder, I usually wait a while before turning my heat on for the winter, because chances are the weather is going to bounce back to 20+ degrees again and then the house will be too hot.  If this sounds unreasonable, you are not alone in thinking this, because Brahm always makes fun of me for it.  But I feel like if you can solve your problem of being too cold by putting on a sweater and slippers, you don't need to turn the heat on yet.

So anyway, imagine my excitement at a recent Google Chat conversation:

Brahm:  I haven't turned on my heat yet this year so my apartment is a bit chilly.
Me:  OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH look who doesn't want to turn on his heat but is always making fun of me for not turning mine on!!!!!!!!!
Brahm:  Yeah but this is different!  I don't want it to overheat in here!
Me:  Face it sweetie, we are THE SAME.

So when we have our own house, don't be surprised if you come to visit in the fall and our house is slightly chilly.  Bring a sweater and some slippers and you'll be okay.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Sweatpants


My sister told me about an assignment she recently gave her grade 8 students, to write about how they think the next year is going to be different.  One of the answers was "I will age, maybe start wearing jeans" because apparently this student just realized that she only wears sweats.

It made me recall my own relationship with sweatpants in elementary school.  I think there comes a time for everyone where mayyyybe wearing sweats out in public isn't the most appropriate thing to do for everyday clothes (I don't care if you want to do a lazy ice cream run to the store or whatever, but wearing sweats as your normal pants is weird). 

As a determinedly unfashionable 12 year old, the jeans vs. sweats idea never really crossed my mind.  I did not want to wear shirts that could be thought of as "tight" so I wore at least size medium unisex printed t-shirts (usually souvenir), and jeans or sweats.  They were interchangeable as far as I was concerned, until the one day in grade 6 where one of my best friends took me aside and said "Robyn, I'm only saying this because I'm your friend, but I really hate those pants."  I was wearing gross baggy black sweats.

I was DEVASTATED.  How could she say something like that?  How did she have the right to criticize my amazing, march-to-my-own drum fashion sense?  I dressed like Kristy from The Baby-Sitters Club, no one ever told Kristy that they hated her sweats!

I believe I actually stayed home from school crying that afternoon, while my mom tried to nicely tell me that maybe I shouldn't wear sweats to school anymore.  I don't really know how the whole thing got resolved, but I believe one day soon after the sweatpants fiasco I wore a different pair of sweats to school - ones I had personally sewn myself (you can imagine how incredibly fashionable a pair of sweats that a grade 6 girl made in sewing class would have been), and I suddenly felt very self-conscious in them.  I finally saw them for what they were:  schlubby, oversized, too-casual-for-school clothes.  I'm not sure if it had anything to do with my friend's frank confession or if I would have come to the conclusion on my own, but after that day I stopped being the girl who wore sweatpants to school.

I still dressed like Kristy for a few more years though until I realized that oversized souvenir t-shirts were the torso equivalent of sweatpants.


You're welcome, internet.  Yes, this is actually me in grade 5, and not wearing a Halloween costume.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Birthday Email


I woke up the morning after my birthday (at work) to this:

Mom:  Did you get dad email took him forever to type it them him deleted it by mistake and him type it over again Haha good nite happy birthday

There was no email.


Monday, November 14, 2011

A Kitchen Explosion


A couple weeks ago at Sobeys I noticed winter squash on sale for $0.99/lb.  Having always wanted to try making butternut squash soup, I brought home a squash, looked up a recipe, and realized that realistically I could create a pot of soup in half an hour or less.

So, I set to work to find out if making delicious butternut squash was as easy as the internet said.  Being an intuitive cook I looked at a few recipes to determine approximate ingredient ratios, and invented the following recipe:

1 butternut squash
6 cups chicken stock
Olive oil
1 Spanish onion (because it was the only onion in the house)
Pepper
Nutmeg
Curry powder
1 cinnamon stick
Powdered ginger
Cream (a few tbsps)

I poked a bunch of holes in the squash and microwaved it for 10 minutes, which made it easy to peel and chop and almost cooked the whole thing all the way through.  I scooped out the seeds, peeled off the skin, and cut the squash in with the chicken stock to simmer.  In the meantime I caramelized the onion in some olive oil, and when it was done I put it into the soup.  I added some pepper, a cinnamon stick, nutmeg, curry powder, and ginger to the stock as well.

When the squash was cooked (5-10 minutes), I put the soup into the blender in small batches (it took about 4 batches) and pureed it until it was smooth.  At the end, I added a splash of cream to the whole batch.

It went well except when I tried to blend it, THIS happened:




(Unfortunately I decided to take these pictures after starting to clean up the multiple explosions so you don't quite get the full effect.)

I don't know why, apparently I forget how to use a blender?  I have made blended soups before and have never had this happen.  Opening the top to let a bit of air out produced the same results, and the only way I could get it to not explode in the end was to hold the top down with all my strength.

So, it made a bit of a mess, but it was so worth it because the soup was AWESOME, and truly as easy as the internet said, with the exception of the blender mishap.


Friday, November 11, 2011

fee-ahn-SAY


Me:  Blah blah blah when we get married blah blah
Brahm:  We're getting married.
Me:  Yeah.  You're going to be my husband.  HAHAHA
Brahm:  Is that funny?
Me:  No...
Brahm:  It's a little bit funny.
Me:  Yeah.  It's weird haha.

I think the way titles change in a relationship is really weird.  Especially when someone goes from your boyfriend to your fiance (I HATE that word for the record, it sounds so pretentious to me) to your husband in a very short time - it's a lot of getting used to when it's not like your feelings for the person or (too much) about the nature of your relationship changes significantly during that period either.  (I know being married is different than not being married, but I also recognize it's a gradual change that you get used to, whereas the titles change instantly.) 

Plus, I have such a strong aversion to using the word fiance but also if I don't people are like "uh, don't you mean your FIANCE or are you not getting married anymore" it's just easier to use it but I feel like a jerk when I say it.  I am ashamed to say I have on occasion remained quiet in conversations at work sometimes when I wanted to share a story about my "fiance" because I didn't want to use that word, or have people question my non-use of it.  Lately I've been biting the bullet and using it but I still feel annoyed at myself when I say it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fiddles on the Roof


Mom:  Was there snow at work when you left
Me: Yeah not a lot though
Mom:  It makes the air cooler when snow on the ground is brahm still working long days
Me:  No today is his last day and he has been only doing 12 hour days since Monday.  He might have to work a bit late tonight but only like 8 pm.
Mom:  When duz him go back to montreal

AND

Mom:  Do you want to have cake this weekend sometime for your birthday ppl are phoning Haha
Me:  Tomorrow me and Brahm are going out for my birthday but maybe on Sunday?
Me:  Not too long of a thing, maybe we can have supper the next weekend that I'm home
Mom:  We can o it next time youre home if you prefer it up to you
Mom:  We can talk ltdr dad and i may do fiddles on the roof tönite are you interested



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Google Plus... Penises


Me:  I joined Google+ and today I logged in and at the top of my news feed there was a picture of a guy playing naked rugby with a dog about to bite his penis
Sherri:  Ew
Sherri:  Google porn
Me:  Totally
Sherri:  I guess that's what the added plus includes.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Airports



I dropped Brahm off at the airport this morning and started reflecting on our situation as I drove away.  This past year and a bit has been quite different than I ever expected.  If you'd asked me a year and a half ago what I thought would be happening in my life right now, I don't think I would have expected to be a shiftworker, or actually using my engineering degree, or 9 months into a long-distance relationship.  Not that any of that is necessarily bad, because I also probably wouldn't have expected that by this point Brahm and I would be rolling in enough savings that we can pretty much buy any house we want when he moves back either.

Something that has definitely changed, and I'm sad about, is my overall attitude towards airports.  Going to the airport before all these big changes in our lives happened used to always fill me with a sense of excitement.  Even if I wasn't going somewhere fun myself, at least it meant someone else was going somewhere awesome or I was picking someone up from somewhere cool.  It would make me remember past vacations, or get excited for upcoming ones.  But now, much more often than not, going to the airport means going to work, or goodbye.

Sometimes though, it still means vacations, or getting to see Brahm again after several weeks apart.  But I can't wait for the day that those instances are the norm again rather than the exception.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Regularly Scheduled Posting

I've been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin lately, and I've been really enjoying it.  It's a book about a woman with a perfectly great life (happy marriage, job she loves, two great kids, no family drama, etc.) who didn't really feel like she was as happy as she could be, so she embarked on a year-long "happiness project" to try and make little changes to see if she could make herself feel happier and more fulfilled. 

While the book doesn't make me want to necessarily start my own intensive happiness project, it has made me think and reflect on little changes I could make to improve my overall happiness or just things I could do to suddenly make my day a little better.  A lot of those things involve finishing projects, or committing to things that sometimes seem like a chore but give a lot of satisfaction in the end.

With that in mind, one thing I want to start doing is have a regular posting schedule for my blog.  I don't know how many people actually read it regularly but I know I have a few "fans" and one thing that makes me happy is writing and having people read and enjoy my writing, and I think forcing myself to commit to a certain number of posts a week will be a commitment that, for the most part, will make me happier.  I've been trying to post more lately anyway and having a schedule to stick to will make it easier for me and also easier for those readers who don't use RSS feeds so just continually check the page for new posts.

From now on, unless I'm ridiculously busy or on an extended vacation, I should have a new post up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  If something super exciting happens I might add in some extra posts every once in a while, but 3 posts/week is a schedule I can easily stick to.

And if you're looking for something else interesting to read in the meantime, I would totally recommend The Happiness Project!  (I think there's a blog for it too but I'm too lazy to find it.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Carving and Google+


My entry in the pumpkin carving contest at work this week (recall that I literally live at work half the time so no, I don't work at a place that let us carve pumpkins on the company's dime).

ACU-PUMPKIN

Get it?  Because it has pins in it like acupuncture.

Also I just signed up for Google+ and I only added 3 friends so far and it was like "Are you sure you don't want to add more friends?  You are going to be lonely."  Shut up Google+, I'm already regretting getting you.  Although also I don't think it was suggesting accurate friends either because it suggested MY DAD who barely knows how to email let alone would ever use social media soooo I don't think Google+ knows what it's talking about anyway.

Monday, October 31, 2011

PSA


PEOPLE:

Please start watching Parks and Recreation, because it is the best show on television.  The first season is not the best so you can skip it if you want, but after that it gets amazing.

Please stop watching The Big Bang Theory, because it is the worst show on television.  One time I tried watching it and forcing myself to laugh along with the laugh track, which actually made it even less funny, if that is even possible.  I lasted about 2 minutes and then had to turn it off because it was so terrible.

REMEMBER:

Parks and Recreation = awesome, The Big Bang Theory = awful

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Physics Fraud Friends


I don't know if I should put this up on the internet since it's slightly academically incriminating, but considering that the only people known to read this blog are my friends/family and people I don't know at all, it's probably okay.

I had a text conversation with a fellow physics degree friend the other day who is doing her Master's in engineering.  She mentioned that a prof had said that sound waves were part of the EM spectrum but decided against correcting him.  I said that it was an honest mistake and I probably would not have noticed his mistake at all, and then went further to say that I have always maintained that I'm pretty sure I basically just "mathed" my way through a physics degree without really learning any physics at all.

Usually when I tell people this, they say that it's not possible and I must have learned something but I just don't realize it (although I do have a super genius friend who claims she doesn't know any physics either).  And maybe that's true, maybe I learned a few basic concepts, but to be honest all I remember is the math involved.  In my job now, I'm "re-learning" some really basic physics concepts and finally realizing what they mean, because they're not being explained in a complicated context.  So seriously, I'm embarrassed to be like "oh THAT'S what Compton scattering is" when I clearly have a degree in it and should already be an expert on these topics.

So anyway, I fully expected the same reaction from this friend, but I was delighted when she responded "me too, I didn't learn any physics."  Hooray!  She went on to say that she doesn't care or have an opinion on about the faster than light neutrino controversy, which I had been just about to mention that I didn't know enough to form an opinion on it either.

I've always felt like the fact I have a physics degree is slightly fraudulent - no, I didn't "copy" my way through my degree, but I most certainly feel as though I faked my way through by being really good at math and memorization.  It's always nice to meet someone else who feels the same way - I may be a physics fraud, but it's good to know I have a few physics fraud friends.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Excellent observation skills


Today my sister mentioned something about her glasses, which made me realize I'd seen her wearing glasses a lot lately.

Me:  Did you stop wearing contacts?
Megan:  Yeah.
Me:  Oh I didn't really even notice.  When did you stop?
Megan:  January.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Classmates.com please die okay

One of my biggest social networking regrets is joining Classmates.com after I graduated high school.  Why did I ever think I'd feel the need to contact people through that site, especially only months after I graduated?  (Why did I ever think I'd feel the need to contact people I graduated with, is the better question...)

Because now there is NO WAY OUT.  I am stuck on Classmates.com for life, and in turn my name gets generated onto a bunch of copycat sites as well, so when you try to Google me I show up on all these LAMESAUCE social networking sites from the early 2000s with Comic Sans font, only one of which I ever made an account for, which I have been trying to delete since 2003, probably the day after I made it.

Overall, my online presence/profile is pretty excellent.  If you Google me I look really smart because pretty much everything about me online is from cool things I was written up for in university, or stuff about me with the company I work for now.  Then there are a couple dumb Facebook public posts from old groups I used to be in before groups were publicly searchable (and when groups still existed), and friggin' Classmates.com.

Classmates - please get it through your head that no one wants to use your site anymore.  No one wants to pay for social networking.  So how about delete your site and your database and stop cluttering up my online presence.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Celery


I grew celery this summer to see what would happen.  I don't particularly love celery but I wanted to see if it would work.  I believe the picture will tell you whether or not it worked out for me:


I'm not really sure what that is, but it doesn't appear to be celery stalks.

The internet tells me that I probably planted them too close together, didn't water them enough, and many other things.  I don't think I'll try growing celery again.  At very least these stalkless leaves are good for flavouring soups, and if I had a food dehydrator I'd probably dry them out for homemade celery salt or something.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Discovery Channel


Mom:  Discovery channel im iceld now
Mom:  I mean ice land if im the geothermal pools

 

Mission Accomplished

To the people who placed an absolutely terrifying Halloween decoration behind a tree on University Drive in order to scare innocent passers-by...

...well done.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wedding Crafts

Before we got engaged, I was really excited to plan a wedding.  All the little fun details, crafts, the whole works.  I remember saying to people "I've planned a two-day conference for 100 13-year-old girls and have overseen the planning of 8 different science camps for kids of all ages which included keeping track of 90+ different projects, surely a simple wedding will be a piece of cake."  But then when we actually got engaged, I realized that there is a lot more that goes into planning a wedding than just making a schedule and booking stuff.  There's a whole emotional side to things too which is ultimately more important than the crafts, so suddenly all that stuff seemed superficial and I didn't care about it anymore.  Like instead I might need the next 10 months to come to terms with having to say my vows in front of 100+ people - does anyone actually realize what a big deal that is?  To be that vulnerable and honest in front of everyone?  I feel like I need to focus my energy on figuring out how to cope with that, rather than crafts.  I digress.

However I still kind of want some sort of crafty homemade things, and I also think my sister was very disappointed the day I told her I didn't feel like doing any details, so when I came across this post on my favourite wedding blog, I thought, wax paper lanterns for tea lights?  That looks too easy.  Easy enough to not take over my life and kind of fun too.  And CHEAP, this is what I like to see.

I decided to make a few changes, as the comments on that post suggested incorporating the kindergarten "stained glass" craft where you iron crayon shavings between two pieces of wax paper, and decided to put stickers on the outside instead of pressed flowers on the inside (sorry but that sounds like wayyyy too much work).  I set to work for about 2 hours this morning, creating about 5 sheets of crayon shaving wax paper and some cardboard tracers that were the size of the sides of the lanterns I want.  I made one "test" lantern.  At the end of it all I was wondering whether I should bother making 40 or so of them anymore.  Easy, yes, but still time consuming.  Maybe I can have a few girls' nights and round up friends and sisters to assemble them.  Otherwise I might go crazy.

But they are kind of pretty so I probably should do them, for my one token craft.  Who wants to help? :D




Taken on the bathroom floor in the dark.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Tomato Saga Continues

Yes, it is the second half of October, why am I still talking about my tomato plants?  Shouldn't they all be dead by now?

WELL, I had a brilliant idea that the internet confirmed would work.  Since they are all in pots, and had many unripe tomatoes still on the plants when it started freezing pretty consistently a couple weeks ago, I just moved them into the garage to ripen!  They don't need light because I'm not trying to grow the plants, but they'll ripen properly on the vine in the dark.  Last week before I headed out for my work shift I moved them into the garage, and when I came home yesterday there were probably 30 or 40 ripening tomatoes to pick!

This is a good gardening tip so I hope you are taking notes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Another one for my grandpa

I wanted to share a few more pictures of memories with my grandpa - lots were already described in my last post.

Covered in leaves, on the tree swing he made for me.

Looking for crayfish.

Most likely eating some fresh peas from the garden - possibly where I inherited my passion for growing things.  My mom said that my grandpa was always so proud of his tomatoes.

Holding a bunny at the Forestry Farm, not supposed to be in there...

Yes, he let a baby drool all over a whole watermelon.  There's another picture that I couldn't find of my grandma in the corner looking less than impressed.

Climbing me up into the crabapple tree.

Big snow people.

What a fun grandpa!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pails and Shovels

My grandma mentioned that it will be 20 years ago this weekend that my grandpa passed away.  He was a super fun grandpa and I'm lucky that my memory of a lot of great times with him is still relatively clear. 

I was the first grandchild and he definitely spoiled me rotten, but more than that we did the coolest stuff together.  We'd go out on the river in a dinghy and catch crayfish, which I would take home as pets until seagulls came and ate them out of my paddling pool.  We'd build giant snowpeople and dress them in old clothes.  One time we went fishing at Waskesiu and he dropped his favourite fishing rod in the lake, and then about an hour later he caught the rod back.  He'd rake up all the leaves in his yard for me to jump in and mess up.  We'd go to the Forestry Farm and he'd always lift me over the fence into the pen with all the bunnies and chickens, even though people weren't actually allowed to go in there.  Even though I was very little, he'd always lift me up into trees and set me down on a branch so I could feel like I'd climbed a tree.

I've got pictures of all of these memories and then some, including this set I stumbled upon again today.  I have no idea how this came to be, but for whatever reason one day my grandpa and I decided to hang all of my pails and shovels out on the clothesline.






I don't know why we did it, but it looks fun. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sweet Vandalism

There is this sign on Highway 5 between Saskatoon and Humboldt, just outside of Saskatoon.  Whatever is on the sign is facing the people coming into Saskatoon, and on the back of the sign someone once spray-painted "JEN WILL YOU MARRY ME?"

The thing I like about this graffiti, not that I condone vandalism, is that it's been there for probably at least 10 years.  No one, including the province or the city or whoever has actual ownership of the sign, has taken it upon themselves to paint over it.  I think that's so nice.  Obviously no one has complained enough or hated that graffiti enough that anyone's felt the need to remove it.  And like I said, not that I condone vandalism but I like that this sweet bit of vandalism has stuck around for so long.

I hope that Jen said yes, and that Jen and her partner are still together.  I hope that every time she drives past that sign she remembers the first time she saw it and smiles, remembering the excitement of being newly engaged, maybe a little bit shocked that someone would deface public property for her.  Whoever Jen is, I bet she'll be a little bit sad someday when the sign finally gets painted over or replaced.  I think I will be too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Sephora Store

Can you figure this one out? 

Allyson:  Mom.  What does this mean??
Allyson:  Unfortunately public school system off and they seen to be at s e for a me im line to get im Haha

Saturday, October 8, 2011

ally yummy cookies

Mom (Monday):  allyson made yummy cookies have pumpkin seeds im them
Mom (Tuesday [my work shift ends Wednesdays]): One more day them you can have some ally yummy cookies Haha you can

Friday, October 7, 2011

Plans for next summer already

This summer is pretty much officially over as the colder weather gets more consistent, but I am already so excited for next summer because hopefully I will have a yard to grow things in!  But even if not, I'm still excited to grow things again.

Obviously I had great luck with tomatoes this year, but I found an awesome variety that I must try next summer:  spoon tomatoes!  Apparently these are delicious little tomatoes the size of peas!  AWW so cute.  How neat would they look in a colourful tomato salad?

Secondly, and this one is a little/lot more ambitious, but BAMBOO!  You can grow bamboo in Saskatchewan I think.  There are several varieties that can survive to -32, which with mulching I'm sure could survive a Saskatchewan winter!  You can buy it from a place in BC that sells tons of different varieties.  How awesome would that be to have a few patches of bamboo in your back yard?  It would seem like you're in Florida during the summer!

Having a garden will be the most fun, because then I can actually go to the store and look through seeds and find neat things like snake squash, I can actually try it out instead of being limited to little pots.

So... stay tuned for next summer!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE

GUESS WHAT I FOUND AT THE STORE TODAY!!!!

LIME YOGURT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Lime yogurt to my knowledge has not existed in Canada for the last 7 or 8 years, and it is my favourite thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Pregnancy Rumours

Someone at work:  Are you pregnant?

Me:  No!  Why would you ask that?

Person:  Well someone asked me if you were pregnant and I said I didn't know but I'd ask.



Is it weird that this happened more than once this week?  (For the record I am definitely not pregnant.)  What a flattering rumour to have going around.  Probably due to my beautiful glowing skin.

Friday, September 30, 2011

DO NOT ROB

When I was about 4 or 5, there was a break-in/robbery near my grandparents' house.  Since I spent a lot of time there and they had lots of fun toys for me to play with, my first worry was that what if the robber came to their house and stole all my stuff?  How to prevent this?

What if there was a way to communicate to the robber that there were certain things that were off-limits, for example, my posters on the wall, my bed, etc.  Take the fridge, take the TV, I don't care, but leave my stuff alone thank you!

I was a pretty smart kid for my age and my parents had taught me to read signs that said "Do not enter" so I wouldn't go in those places, so I knew how to spell "do not."  Luckily, my name is Robyn and although I didn't know how to spell the word "steal" I figured that a robber robs, so "rob" must mean the same as "steal" and "rob" is probably spelled like the first half of my name... "DO NOT ROB" was born.

I set to work with a black marker writing this warning on everything in my little room that I didn't want robbed.  I don't really remember what I wrote it on that day but since the slogan remained on many items for quite a few years, I recall seeing it on some posters, a bedside table, possibly a lamp, a desk, and somehow I think I got it on the bed frame too.

Eventually my parents and/or grandparents discovered what I did and I got in trouble but hey, it was worth it because my stuff never got robbed.  In fact, that house never got broken into - they probably saw the signs through the window or something and realized this was not a house to mess with.

I always knew that the above-mentioned bedside table was the one that's still in my room now but I could never find the inscription.  Today I decided to look really hard and discovered a very faint "DO NOT ROB" on the bottom shelf area.  It has either been painted over or has faded, but it's somewhat visible.  Here's a picture I took with some heavy editing to try and bring out the writing as much as possible:


DO NOT ROB:  a foolproof way to make sure robbers don't take your stuff.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oops

And this, folks, is why it's important to remember to water your cactus...


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

PETA into the Mainstream

Overheard in Disney World, as a massive Clydesdale pulled an empty passenger trolley on a well-greased track down the street.

"Oh that POOR HORSE, having to pull that whole cart all by himself."

Uh, ever heard of AGRICULTURE?  (Credit for that zing goes to Brahm.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vermicomposting Excitement!

Finally, what you've all been waiting for:  an update on my vermicomposting adventure!

Today I harvested the dirt from my vermicompost bin.  I did not expect to be so amazed at what I discovered!  Those worms are power eaters!  Many times during the summer I threw my compostable scraps in the garbage because I was worried that the worms were getting overloaded but today when I dumped out the entire Rubbermaid bin and started separating worms and dirt and materials that had not broken down, I was really impressed to find out that the only uncomposted materials in the bin were a few rotten tomatoes and apple cores I put in there this week, some cherry pits, and a couple of corn cobs. 

We put so many food scraps in there this summer and it was absolutely gratifying to see that it had all turned into incredibly fertile soil that I can use to kick start next summer's gardening adventures!  This composting experiment was a HUGE success and I would highly recommend it to anyone who's ever thought about trying it, looking for a way to compost without creating smell or requiring a large corner of your backyard, or just as a way to use up kitchen scraps so your garbage can doesn't smell as much.  Seriously - all you need is a Rubbermaid bin with some holes cut in it for air and a spot with a temperature greater than 5 Celcius the majority of the time (so basements/garages should work well).  It's an awesome way to turn kitchen scraps into incredibly rich, natural fertilizer you can use on your lawn, garden, house plants, etc.!

Since the worms multiply, every few months when you separate out the dirt it's probably time to also give away half of the remaining worms to a friend, so it's great for starting conversations about ways to reduce food and yard waste in a city with no convenient composting program.  What a totally awesome, no-downside initiative.

My worms are ready to separate into 2 or 3 new bins - if you're interested in starting your own vermicomposter (and live in Saskatoon) let me know!  I'll hook you up with some worms and help you get started.

My vermicomposter, ready to be harvested.  Yes, something is growing in there - I think it's so fertile that even though it's totally dark, the seeds from a lot of the things I throw in start sprouting... until the worms eat the new sprouts.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dress Shopping

On Saturday I will be undertaking one of those wedding rites of passage that most brides have to go through: wedding dress shopping.  I only have one appointment at a store I know has a line of dresses I like, and it's definitely not going to be an all-day ordeal.  I booked the appointment later in the day 2 hours before the store closes so my sister could come but now I'm thinking that was an accidentally good strategic move...

...flash back to 2003, high school graduation was looming.  Most of the girls in my class had started shopping or bought their grad dresses before the school year even started.  Around February or March, I decided it was time to start looking so I went to Bryan's at Midtown Plaza with my mom.  The second dress I tried on was great - not poofy, strapless (but stayed up), black lace over beige.  It definitely wasn't anything I'd imagined myself in but it was pretty much perfect.  However, figuring if I liked the second dress I tried on this much, there must be something even better out there.

I ended up spending the entire weekend trying on pretty much every dress in my size in Bryan's, going to a few wedding stores and trying on excessively expensive prom dresses, and then back to Bryan's again to try on all the dresses again.  I hated it and just kept getting more and more discouraged.  I remember the breaking point being when I tried on this clingy, flowy dress that looked great on another girl but just horrible on me.  I am super tiny but I don't have an especially flat stomach, and that dress really... accentuated that feature.  I think I started crying at some point because for whatever reason, the black lace dress had been forgotten in it all.

In the end, I settled for some sparkly backless white dress that wasn't really my style... and started having  regrets as I got into my parents' van to leave the mall.  My mom decided to run back to the store and get the black dress too so I could make a decision at home, which I'm so glad for because the unanimous family decision at home was the black dress by far and if she hadn't grabbed it that day, I might have had to settle for the sparkly white dress because...

There'd been some drama at school because a relatively popular girl in my class had bought the same dress as another girl in the class, a few hours after.  When this came to light, because grad dress news travels fast between high school girls, the popular girl had to take back her dress and buy a new one.  The new one she bought turned out to be the same black lace dress I bought.

DRAMA.  Thankfully she took it in stride and once again returned the dress (she'd bought it a day after I bought mine so I had first dibs), but she did try it on for a few of her friends one evening who then all came to me and said "OH that dress you got looks SOOOOO good on her" and on grad day "I love your dress Robyn, it looked so good on J--- when she tried it on" thanks guys, much appreciated.  Oh well.  Never have to see you jerks again after today.

So anyway, I am hoping that with the removal of high school girls from the equation and a goal to NOT let things get out of hand like they did in 2003 will make wedding dress shopping less painful than the last time I shopped for a significant dress.

Me on graduation day in the dress that caused so much controversy and drama.  It has since been altered to be appropriate to wear at weddings etc. - multifunctional, hooray!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tomatoes Again

I am sure you've been dying to know how my whole tomato saga turned out.  I can confidently say:  SUCCESS!  Every seed I planted germinated and turned into a plant, most of which are close to 5 feet tall and longer if you included the tumbling vines.  There are still a lot yet to ripen but when it comes time to pick them all off, I'll have more tomatoes than I know what to do with.

I definitely think I made the right choice to grow mostly cherry-type tomatoes, and I think next summer I might grow sweet-variety cherries almost exclusively, with the exception of maybe one or two larger varieties to use on burgers and stuff.



My garage, full of tomatoes!  I grew those from SEEDS!  So crazy!  (They are in the garage because it froze overnight.)

I'm glad I love eating tomatoes because they are definitely the best produce to grow in my no-garden situation.  PS, those purply-brown tomatoes taste like you'd think they would - intensely tomatoey, almost smoky.  Umami to the max.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shoes

Somehow I have acquired more pairs of shoes than you'd think I own.  What I mean by this is, I'm not very fashionable and I'm definitely not what you'd call a "shoe addict" and I'm pretty sure I only have 3 pairs of shoes that you'd classify as "heels", so if you know me you wouldn't expect me to own a lot of shoes.  Especially since I only wear about 4 pairs regularly.

I think the main reason I have amassed such a large shoe collection is that I seem to usually buy pretty good quality shoes that never wear out.  For example, I still wear a pair of Merrell hiking shoes that I got in grade 10.  Grade 10 people, if you want to know how old I am compared to a grade 10, I started grade 10 in 2000.  And yet these shoes have not worn out!  They are still totes comfortable!  How is this possible?  I wore them almost every day walking to university and through my last 2.5 years of high school.  And still wear them almost every day at work except in winter (I work at a very casual dressing office, I could get away with wearing sweats if I wanted to but I don't because that's super gross).

When I deliver training at work, I like to play an awesome icebreaker that my friend Sherri and I invented back in our science camp instructor days.  One thing I really hate about most icebreakers is that they put people on the spot right away before anyone knows anyone, so they are often more uncomfortable than team-building.  For example sometimes icebreakers consist of "find a partner you don't know, talk about your hopes and dreams for the future and innermost secrets, and then present them to the rest of the group, that consists of all grumpy old men who have worked here for 30 years except for you, Robyn".  Okay that is a slight exaggeration but actually not really.  So when I do icebreakers, as the instructor I like to put minimal pressure on the class and as much pressure as possible on me.  With that long-winded introduction, the game is I come up with 10 totally random questions about myself that people who don't know me (or possibly even people who know me) would never know the answer to but have to guess the answers and then the winner gets a prize.  Kids LOVED it and I have found that adults, even the grumpiest of old men, also love it.  Best icebreaker ever, use it, you're welcome.

ANYWAY so one of the questions in that game is always "how old are these shoes?" and then I give a few options like 2 years, 5 years, 10 years.  I decided to maybe retire my beloved Merrells after someone creepily answered "they are 10 years old because the soles are worn out but you don't drag your feet."  It was very observant and something I had not noticed before.

I also kept a pair of Nike sport sandals from grade 5 all the way through high school and slightly into university until they just got so ugly that I threw them out.  They were still perfectly comfortable actually.  I'm also currently trying to wean myself off of a pair of leather clog-type shoes I got in high school that again, are so comfortable and not too falling apart. 

I'm starting to run out of room for these shoes but I feel like buying 2-3 pairs of shoes a year is by no means excessive, except the new shoes I buy aren't usually replacements.  Or actually they are often meant to be replacements but I am just too attached to the old comfortable shoes.  And it's hard to break in new shoes to get to that awesome level of comfort when the old ones have had 10 years of shaping perfectly to my feet.  What can compete with that experience?

I think I might go throw some old gross shoes in the garbage now.  But not my Merrells just yet.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Poo Teen

Background:  a) I'm in Montreal b) Since my sister switched my mom's phone to T9, she duznt know how to spell out words letter by letter anymore.

Mom:  It has been so nice and warm here this week you will have some ripe tomatoes when you get here and corn too did you have poo teen there Haha

Friday, September 9, 2011

Line/Theme Park Etiquette

Are you going to a theme park sometime in your life?  How about somewhere that you might have to stand in a long line (e.g. not a grocery store)?  Listen up, people, this is an important post.  We returned from a trip to Disney World a few days ago and here are some tips on how to stand in a line and go to a theme park properly and courteously.

The Main Tip:

DON'T BUDGE!  Seriously, theme park lines move fast enough that it is not considered to be proper etiquette to have someone "hold your place" in line.  It's super annoying when people start pushing through the line ahead of you because the rest of their party is a few groups ahead.  Also annoying when kids would run ahead in the line and the parents would be like "hey wait for us you dumb kids" and push ahead of everyone else.

What are you to do in a situation where the rest of your party somehow gets ahead of you in line?  The people in the front WAIT for the people in the back by allowing the parties in between to go ahead until the rest of the group catches up.  This does not disrupt the order of the line by adding any extra people in front of the in-between parties.

It was interesting how many people did not understand this courtesy.  One day we saw two or three families who were together but with one half of the group about five or six parties ahead in the line.  The front family kept telling the back family to come catch up with them but the back family didn't want to budge through the crowd with their strollers and children, so the front family said "Okay we'll just let them know you're with us when we get to the front of the line" thinking that the Disney employees would be like "oh of course, please bring your party of 8 from the back of the line up here now that you're at the front" but ha, when they got to the front of the line and said they were a party of 13 but the remaining 8 people were a ways back in line, Disney said "okay you can wait here until they catch up."  pwned amiright

I probably sound way more worked up about this than I actually ever was, like I didn't get angry every time someone pushed ahead of me because it wasn't constantly happening but I just wanted to share this general courtesy tip.

Other Tips and Stray Observations:

If you think your children are being annoying in the line and you try to "apologize" to other line-standers by constantly disciplining your kids (or just telling them to stop it over and over), guess who is being more annoying?  You, that's who.  Chances are if people are at Disney they probably are expecting that there will be some rowdy kids in the line.  You aren't making the situation better by whining at your kids to stop whining or yelling at them for calling Disney World Universal Studios or telling them to stop fidgeting over and over and over.  Having said that, if your kids are beating each other up and whacking other people in the process, make them stop.  Probably the easiest way would be to send them back to the hotel.

Also - if your kids are too bratty or lazy to handle going to a theme park, should you take them to said theme park???  NO, you should not.  How much fun are you going to have pushing your 12 year old around Disney World in a stroller that costs 20 bucks a day or more to rent?  (This is a true thing we saw.)  How much fun are you going to have if your kids are being brats the entire time but you don't want to "waste" your park passes by grounding the kids at the hotel for a day so they behave?  Kids should earn a fun vacation by not being jerks, otherwise it is simply not going to be a fun vacation.

My last observation was one I was aware of in media and stuff before going, but witnessed on several occasions as well, and it is something that annoys me.  That's the stereotype with Disney vacations that a) the moms micromanage and plan the vacation b) the dads hate Disney vacations and act as the "cool" parent who goes on all the "fun" rides while the mom sits with the kid who is too short to ride.  One of the moments that annoyed me most on the trip was a family of a mom, dad, and two boys got onto the Star Tours ride and the dad's seatbelt didn't buckle so the Disney employee told them they would have to get off the ride and get on the next one.  The kids looked really disappointed (it WAS going to be another 2 minute wait) so the mom just got off the ride so the dad and the kids could have fun and not have to wait for the next one.  I was so annoyed.  How about use your vacation to teach your kids some patience and not that Dad is fun and Mom is lame and will sacrifice her own fun for the kids and Dad.

Anyway, fun trip though!  Probably a few non-ranty posts about it to come.

Oh yeah the last tip:  calling your small children "stupid f--king kids" in front of everyone in the airport because they are excited to go to Disney and can't sit still makes you look like a massive jerk, not a cool dad.