Wednesday, November 28, 2012

must have ketchup

My mom and I were having a texting conversation about how the weather was really nice in the morning, then got really cold.  But it wasn't as cold in Humboldt.  Then I told her I bought some Toe Warmers boots at Sears and then found a bunch of good reviews of them online.

Mom:  Ok but check the age the ppl reviewing too

Me:  I can show you them next time and if you think they look ugly I'll take them back but I think they're fine

Mom:  Ok Haha I dont know that brand were walking to Iga [grocery store] for bologna Its not too bad

Me:  Why are you buying bologna  [I did not realize my parents ate bologna]

Mom:  Luuuv bologna sandwiches Haha with ketchup Haha must have ketchup

Monday, November 26, 2012

Kickstarter Documentaries

I backed a couple of important-looking documentaries on Kickstarter the other day.  I want to write a bit about them, why I backed them, and hopefully encourage you to back them too if you have the means to do so.

But first, if you don't know what Kickstarter is, it's kind of like online Dragon's Den.  People pitch projects that they don't have enough funding to get off the ground, and if you want to help them out you make a donation.  The cool part is that if they don't reach their funding goal, they don't get any of the money.

I saw the link to Project Wild Thing on one of my favourite blogs, Free Range Kids.  Remember hearing about the New York mom who let her 10 year old son ride the subway alone a few years ago?  That's the Free Range Kids lady and she's awesome.  Her whole mission with the Free Range Kids movement is to empower parents to stop being so overprotective and raise independent, well-rounded kids.  It's basically the parenting philosophy that existed up until very recently, before shows like Law and Order: SVU struck the fear of abduction into the hearts of parents everywhere on a weekly basis.

The goal of Project Wild Thing appears to be getting people, especially kids, to enjoy nature again, and starting conversations about how to do this.  The way they go about trying to "market" nature like it was a consumer product is really neat, and I really hope this documentary can get finished and start its outreach.  It looks super interesting and very important.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry is one I found while just randomly browsing, but it's another one I'm really hoping will reach its funding goal.  The interviews they've done and the footage they've shot and collected all sounds so rich and fascinating that it would be such a shame to not be able to finish this important film.

It's billing itself as "the first feature documentary about the birth of women's liberation in the 1960's."  I think, as women in this day and age, we take for granted so many of the rights we have.  In fact, we are often encouraged to take these rights for granted as so many out there insist that there is no longer a need for feminism; we have reached equality.  "Feminist" has become a word that is twisted to the point that many women shy away from it because they're worried identifying as such means they hate men and burn bras.

More women, and especially young girls, need to understand how hard the suffragists and feminists before us fought to gain us the rights we have today, and to recognize that total equality has NOT yet been achieved.  Male politicians are still making decisions on what women can do with their bodies and what medications they are allowed to take, courts are still ruling that women are "asking for" rape because they were dressed like "sluts".  And in so many countries around the world, baby girls are given up or aborted because families want boys, women are beaten to death in front of their communities for "shameful" acts like sex outside of marriage, women are arrested for simple things driving or being out in public without a male escort, and young girls are shot by the Taliban for simply wanting to get an education.  Recognizing that feminists were not just a bunch of whiny women in the 60's who wanted to wear pants is vital to ensuring that complacency does not set in, so we don't start to move backwards and lose some of the rights we had, like what is happening in many US states.

Anyway, I encourage you to check out the Kickstarter pages for both documentaries and make a donation if you can!  Be a part of something important.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Shortly after Brahm and I got married and I moved into his apartment, we realized that I had a previously-undiscovered annoying behaviour:  I set traps.

I unwittingly arrange things in the cupboards so that when people open them, things fall on them.  I leave things on the floor that are tripping hazards.  And worst of all, two days in a row I didn't flush the toilet after pooping.

Some of these traps may come in handy if we ever get robbed, Home Alone style.  But right now, every time Brahm falls prey to one of my traps, I just feel bad about it.  Sometimes I am worried that I might set a dangerous trap, like leave a sharp knife somewhere that it will fall on his foot (I did something similar at my old house; put a knife in a drawer sharp side up and Brahm reached in and cut his hand.  I am the worst).  I realize I need to be more mindful about my organization and what I am leaving lying around, because while most of these traps are relatively comical in nature (AFTER the fact, obviously), I DON'T want to hurt myself or my partner.

This past week Brahm had been mentioning that he thought the milk in our fridge was going bad.  It tasted fine to me so we decided to keep drinking it anyway.  One morning after he had left for work I got a text:

"So unless you were boiling vinegar in the kettle the milk is definitely turning.  Had a glass for breakfast that seemed ok but it curdled and soured my coffee.  So gross!"

The previous day's actions came rushing back to me.  I'd poured a bit of vinegar into the kettle to scale it, left it sit for a couple minutes and... completely forgot about it.

I think I have a problem.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

DIY: Salad Dressing

One thing I am never doing again in my life is buying salad dressing from a store.  What is the point?  It basically takes the same amount of time to create your own salad dressing from scratch as it does to take the Kraft out of the fridge, shake it up, and pour it on your salad.

Have a gander at Kraft's current lineup - over 50 varieties of salad dressing?  Have you tried them all?  NO, you haven't, and you never will be able to because then you would have to buy a fridge for salad dressing only and eat nothing but salad so you could use them all up before they expire.

Here's what you can do if you make your own salad dressings:  make a brand new flavour every day for the rest of your life and never have to throw out a 1/2 used bottle of Bacon Ranch because you already had Rancher's Choice, Calorie-Wise Rancher's Choice, Three Cheese Ranch, and Bacon Italian in the fridge that you liked better.  Oh and you also had to throw most of those ones out too.

As long as you have oil, vinegar, and a few random things to add in (if you want) you've got salad dressing.  A couple of my favourite standbys are oil+balsamic vinegar+a crushed garlic clove (amazing) and oil+apple cider vinegar+maple syrup (also amazing).  But really, the possibilities are endless, as long as you have oil and vinegar (which in itself is a delicious salad dressing).  If you're into creamy dressings, which are kind of gross in my opinion but whatevs, here's a recipe for homemade ranch that you could play off to create your own version of Creamy Cucumber.  Being able to control the ingredient ratios is awesome.  Is your favourite store bought dressing too salty, oily, or acidic?  Make a copycat version but adjust the ratios to your preference.

How many times have you found yourself accidentally thinking a new kind of salad dressing on the shelf at the store looks good, bought it, didn't really like it, and ended up throwing it out after it expired a few months later?  Never again!  Making your own salad dressing will save you money, fridge space, and calories.  And you can create the flavour that you thought the disappointing store bought dressing was going to have.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The power of a "happy birthday"

It was my birthday last week.  I have always secretly (or, maybe not-so-secretly) wished that someday, someone would make a big deal out of my birthday.  Like throw me a surprise party or something.  Since I can remember, anytime I've had school or work on my birthday I've gone around announcing to everyone that it was my birthday, which maybe is obnoxious but I just think it's funny.

It may sound weird for a shy, sensitive introvert like me to want anyone to even know it is my birthday, but that's how it is.  And this year, 28 years into my life, it finally happened.

I was at work.  In the days leading up to my birthday, I was telling my co-workers at breakfast that my birthday was coming up.  As I got into work on my actual birthday, a co-worker from another office on site (who I had not had breakfast with) sent me an instant message wishing me a happy birthday.  I asked her how she had known and she cryptically replied "I know everything."  A couple birthday emails arrived in my inbox.  A minute later, a co-worker from down the hall walked into my office to say happy birthday and I got him to spill the beans on how everyone seemed to know.

Long story short, after I'd left breakfast that morning someone had jokingly suggested that someone should send an email to the entire site announcing that it was my birthday.  And someone did.

I think people thought that they were embarrassing me all day by emailing and stopping by, because like I said I am a shy, sensitive introvert who shouldn't like that stuff.  But I loved it.  It was honestly the best birthday I could have had at work.

Because a birthday at work, away from your loved ones, isn't going to be a great birthday.  No one is going to make you a special dinner or give you flowers or something.  And I KNOW hipsters, birthdays are technically dumb because unless you're like 100, why are you celebrating still being alive?  But I am still of the opinion that we all deserve one day a year to be celebrated, to be made to feel a little bit special, to remember that we have people in our lives who are happy that we're still alive.  Right?  We all need that.  And it's hard to get when you're at work, away from those people.

All day long, people stopped into my office and sent me emails.  Some more awesome than others, like the gruff old mechanic who said "The email said to come say happy birthday, so happy birthday."  The fact that all of these people took a few minutes out of their day to pop by or send an email, when they absolutely didn't have to do anything of the sort because they're just my co-workers, totally made my day.

So never underestimate the power of a "happy birthday" - more often than not, the fact that you thought of someone will make their birthday so much better.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


All I really want to say is that pomegranate is maybe the best thing to put in a salad, ever.  Especially a spinach salad with things like chicken and nuts and avocado.  But the taste and texture of pomegranate is just perfect for salad.  It is a shame pomegranates are only available for a short time every year and are so annoying to get open, because they are delicious and I love them.  Especially in salads.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Sandwich Place

My sisters and I have always gotten along really well with a group of our cousins who live in Calgary.  We only see each other once or twice a year (sometimes even less, especially as we get older and have separate adult lives) but these trips to Calgary or Disneyland or BC or wherever we met up were always a highlight of our year.

We had many, many cousin "traditions" that evolved and petered out over the years.  To name a few:  making a "parade" of every single toy (including several hundred small army men/McDonald's toys/etc.) in my cousins' basement and then making our parents clean it up, mixing up a terrifying cocktail of as many disgusting kitchen ingredients as we could find and making our dads taste it, walking to 7-11 to buy Slurpees and treats to have while watching Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's latest lame movie, and playing a game where we pretended to murder each other while jumping on their trampoline.  Some still live on today, like having lunch at Peters Drive-In and wearing our Team Cousin t-shirts at family events.

One of my favourite traditions, which I'm proud to have invented, was The Sandwich Place.  The Sandwich Place was a soup and sandwich (and veggies and dip) restaurant that we opened once a visit for our parents.  We decided on a few different sandwich combinations and canned soups that were available in the house, wrote up menus, and prepped the kitchen. 

We made our parents go outside and ring the doorbell when they "arrived" and I feel like at one point they even called to make a reservation (haha).  The two cousins delegated to be the servers seated the parents, and when the orders came in we scurried into action in the kitchen, slapping together sandwiches, ladling Ichiban into bowls, and pouring Ranch or Creamy Cucumber into small pools onto plates next to celery sticks that our moms had pre-prepped for us.  Our youngest cousin Kristin was always the "caller" - Fuddruckers-style, she sat at the "pickup" table with a toy megaphone and let each customer know that their order was ready.

My dad mentioned The Sandwich Place during his speech at the wedding, and noted that often the sandwiches were less than appetizing, but they politely ate everything on their plates and gave us rave reviews.  I'm glad, because putting on The Sandwich Place was a total blast.  It went through several iterations, sometimes even having PRINTED (on a computer!) menus, and lived on as a cousin tradition for 5 or 6 years.

I hope someday when my cousins and I all have children of our own, they're as close as we were and start some new cousin traditions.  I know for sure we'll be encouraging them to open their own version of The Sandwich Place.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Real Bread

One product that just grosses me out is any sort of super-processed shelf-stable bread.  I'm talking about Dempster's and other similar brands - just gross.  Bread that is shipped from a factory across the country/continent and then sits on grocery store shelves for days that is still soft when you take it out of the bag is NOT bread.

Here's what bread is supposed to be:  baked fresh the morning you buy it in a bakery, and starts to go stale within 24 hours.  Real bakeries, if they don't sell out of all their bread in a day, sell day-old bread at a reduced price for cheapskates and people who want to make stuffing or croutons.

Grocery stores let the same brand-name bread sit on their shelves for days.  What sort of preservatives are in this weird bread product that keeps it "fresh" for such a long time?  Fake bread doesn't even toast, it just chars a bit on the outside but stays soft and doughy on the inside.  Real bread is in danger of drying out if you toast it too long.  Fake bread is in danger of starting on fire.

I refuse to buy fake bread because it tastes weird, has a doughy, sticky texture, and on top of being full of chemicals and preservatives that don't belong in bread, it's generally more expensive than buying real bread.  I don't understand why anyone buys fake bread.  Convenience?  I guarantee there's a real bakery that's as close or closer to you than the grocery stores you frequent.  Real bread goes stale too fast?  Use your freezer; a slice of real bread takes 2 minutes to thaw at room temperature or 15 seconds in the microwave.  Start saying no to fake bread because it's a super disgusting product and there's no point to it existing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The best Text from My Mom

Maybe the best Text from My Mom of all time:

Mom:  I'm sad i cant find the tv turner for a few days Haha


Monday, November 5, 2012

Awesome Brunch: Sweet Potato Hash with Sausage and Eggs

Brahm recently switched from working a 12-hour day 5 days a week schedule to a 10 days on, 4 days off schedule.  This is pretty great because now when I'm home we have 4 days off together, instead of trying to cram doing a bunch of fun things together into a short weekend where we also want to do other things like see our friends and families.

One especially fun thing about this is getting to make fancy breakfasts together.  Our standard is bacon and eggs (with slices cut off a slab of locally smoked bacon, very lean and not salty or slimy like most grocery store bacon) with hashbrowns and toast, but we definitely enjoy experimenting with really intense breakfast recipes and I had one bookmarked that I had wanted to try for a while:  sweet potato hash with sausage and eggs.

We got a cast iron pan for a wedding gift and it has definitely, besides our dishes, become our most-used wedding gift.  Mostly Brahm has been reading up on it and experimenting, so this dish was my intro to using the pan.  I didn't totally follow the recipe but basically all I did was:
  • Fry up an onion and two cloves of (local aka really strong) garlic in the cast iron pan
  • Add a diced sweet potato and a few seasonings (salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika)
  • Bake in the oven (in the pan) for 15 minutes at 425
  • Add some crumbled (pre-cooked) farmers' sausage and cracked on 4 eggs
  • Baked for another 10 minutes or so
THAT'S ALL.  The cast iron pan ROCKED this recipe because it retains so much heat, roasting sweet potatoes took a fraction of the time I was expecting them to take.  The taste verdict?  Super delicious.  If you read the full recipe link, it says to do the roasting part the night before so all you have to do is add the eggs in the morning.  But if you've got cast iron cookware, why even bother?

A good tip I got from the comments of the original article, if you choose to make this recipe - baked eggs look deceptively uncooked, so poke them to see if they are done instead of relying on their appearance.  Another tip from me:  use farmer sausage instead of something like Italian sausage since it's got that smoked, bacony taste to it that balances the sweetness of the sweet potatoes well.  I suppose you could also sub in bacon...

A++ will make again!  Would be an awesome recipe to make for brunch if you were having company over!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chateau du Mal Voisin

Saskatoon got a lot of snow overnight.  It was the inevitable day we have every November, the first really big snowfall where everyone gets stuck and is late for work the next day.  I was supposed to go get winter tires this morning but after about 10-15 minutes of brushing my car off and watching everyone getting stuck on the street, I decided not to chance it.  Even if Brahm and I could both get out of our neighbourhood without getting stuck (he following in another vehicle so I could get a ride home after - apparently at this time of year Kal-Tire prefers you to just drop your car off at 7:30 am and they'll get to it when they get to it), I'd rather not be out driving today if I don't have to.

While we were scraping and then trying to figure out the best way to get out of our neighbourhood without getting stuck, a couple of across the street neighbours came out and started shoveling their walks.  They called friendly hellos to each other, and I smiled, thinking about what a nice, neighbourly neighbourhood we live in.

Then, friendly hellos over with, they started yelling up the street about how stupid everyone is because they are trying to drive uphill to get out of the neighbourhood.  No matter what way you go from where we live, you've got to confront an upward hill at some point, so the general thought process seems to be if you can get onto a side street that isn't quite so steep you can get out.  According to these neighbours, if you go all the way to the bottom of the hill and then go up the side street, it's easier.

Okay, fair enough.  But I felt like it was kind of jerkish while people were probably having stressful moments trying to get unstuck, being worried about missing an important meeting, etc. for these neighbours to literally yell up the street to each other "HAHA these idiots never learn, year after year it's always the same!  It's our yearly tradition to sit in our living room with our coffee and just laugh at how stupid everyone is!"

Come on.  There are a lot of apartment buildings and rental units on our street - not everyone has lived here forever and knows the trick about driving to the bottom of the hill.  So neighbours, when people are frustrated and stressed, especially those who don't know the neighbourhood (like the poor lost taxi driver who barely spoke English and basically drove up and down the street for half an hour trying to get out the same way he came in) or just having a bad morning because their car is stuck, either stay inside and laugh at them if you must, or go outside and give them some neighbourly advice.  Don't stand outside and loudly mock them because that is just plain RUDE.

EDIT, later in the day:  My mom came over to pick me up and go downtown, and we took our rude neighbours' advice from this morning about going to the bottom of the hill and going from there.  GUESS WHAT, we got stuck.  So we came back to our street and went up the hill partway and then did what the neighbours were laughing at this morning and got out.  So... SHUT UP smug neighbours, but also thank you for shoveling your sidewalks because they were easy to walk on.