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):
Candied ginger (cut into small pieces)
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.