Tuesday, June 30, 2009

RIP Blue and Green


I was at a backyard party this weekend and one of the bowl of munchies on the table contained Smarties. This of course carried on into a conversation about which is better- Smarties or M&M's. Personally, I've always favored Smarties over M&M's... partly because of the shape, partly because of the chocolate but mostly because of the colors Red, Orange, Yellow, Pink, Purple, Brown, Blue and Green. (Useless Smartie Fact- I remember as a child that there use to be dark brown and light brown... blue took the place of light brown.)

That has now changed, open up a box today and you will find two things- there are no longer blue Smarties and there are no longer green Smarties *GASP!* Nestle Canada has decided that "natural" dyes are the way to go and as a result they have forgone the blue dye. No blue also means no green either... *pouts*

Studies show that people have become weary of synthetic additives in their food and prefer "natural" especially when their food is considered. Of course natural does not equate to safe any more than synthetic equates to risky. Strychnine is quite natural, but we wouldn't want to eat it. We reserve it for sentencing rats to death. Aspirin is a synthetic compound (Not actually found in the bark of willow as many myths claim.) and many people find it quit a useful substance.

Natural colorants extracted from Lemon for Yellow, Radish for Pink (ew- Radish), Black Carrot for Purple, Hibiscus Fruit for Red, Safflower for Orange and Spirulina for a pretty anemic looking Green. However, Nestles problem came when they tried to create a "natural" blue dye. It was nonexistent and the synthetic dye known as Brilliant Blue (FD&C #1 in the U.S.) just could not be replaced.

That is until 2009 when they found one in an unlikely place. Bacteria. *insert EW here*

Specifically, cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae (Yes, that algae) which is a source of phycocyanin, a blue pigment being used to color Smarties in Europe. This however hasn't been approved in Canada as an appropriate way to color the candy shell. But just you wait! Don’t fret all you blue Smartie lovers out there... if the Blue is a must Mars is still producing their M&M's with the blue candy shells- they haven't jumped on the “Natural is Better” bandwagon just yet and are using a mixture of Brilliant Blue and Indigo (yes, the same stuff used to dye your dark denim jeans.).

So why doesn't Nestle just use this to produce blue Smarties? First, it’s not ideal for candy production and really needs to be mixed with Brilliant Blue to provide the desired color. Another issue is Indigo color isn't really natural. The plant contains no blue compounds and only upon fermentation of the leaves (traditionally in a vat of diluted urine *insert EW here*) is the blue actually produced. There is a way to produce it synthetically (read: sans urine) but then that just wouldn't be natural.

So long story short- for now, here in Canada we are stuck without our blue and green Smarties. If you still happen to have any of last years Halloween candy left over- keep it. If I learnt anything for the book Candy Freak by Steve Almond is covet thy candy and thou shall not share it.

RIP Blue and Green Smarties, you will be missed.

Links:

Tree House Envy


Over the last few days I have read a handful of posts revolving around lovely people and their lovely "tree houses". These "tree houses" are delicious backyard/condo patios draped in lovely lines, downing in fresh flowers and surrounded by a variety of tree's. Perfect spots for reading, writing, painting, sunning and drinking Sangria with others. I'll admit- I've been indulging in a little "tree house envy"- my "tree house" is more of a cinder block with AstroTurf (it's the first time AstroTurf has actually improved something.) for birds to poop on. OK- it's not that bad but it's north facing, second floor in the middle of downtown. It's great for people watching as long as my neighbours upstairs aren't renovating because if they are I usually get sawdust all over me and my indoor/outdoor carpet.

Because I rent I can't really do too much to change the area however I think I might still get a nice little bar high bistro table with chairs and add a planter of flowers. There is a plug out there as well so I could also hook up a simple little water fountain which actually might be nice.

So though I may not be able to have my "tree house" just yet I can have my little oasis in the city. My little haven from the rat race below me and perhaps make peace with some of the spiders.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Things I Should Have Done Tonight...

What I should have done tonight...


  • I should have gone to the bank to deposit that cheque

  • I should have gone to Lulu Lemon up the street and done some free yoga

  • I should have put my luggage back down in the storage unit

  • I should have taken pictures of the items I want to sell on Craig's List

  • I should have sorted through all those books that I don't plan on reading a second time

  • I should have gone for a tan

  • I should have done some laundry

  • I should have made a proper dinner and maybe even lunch for tomorrow

  • I should have cleaned up the bit of clutter in the corner

  • I should have updated done some research about what to do Canada Day

  • I should have called my mum

  • I should have done the dishes right away

  • I should have earned 10 Airmiles


What I ended up doing instead...

  • Putting some old pictures from the end of May on Facebook

  • Got some new music

  • Earned 5 Airmiles

  • Researching ideas to finish up my living room

  • Updated my Calendar so I don't forget anything

  • Watched a Mythbusters

  • Organized my Podcasts

  • Scratched my mosquito bite

  • Did some thinking

  • Ate some cake- yum

  • Listened to the new Wilco album which comes out tomorrow.

  • Read some blogs that I've been meaning too for the last week

  • Looked at houses for sale

When I Know It's Actually Summer

Summer has OFFICIALLY arrived! I know this NOT because of the warm weather or the flowering gardens or the fact that my calender tells me that June 21st is "the first day of summer"... I know that it is summer because I got my first mosquito bit on Saturday! It happened sometime between the beer run and the cake run during a friends backyard birthday bash... I felt the little bugger bit me and I slapped him hard. I've been relishing in the whole "scratching it good!" feeling since.

I'm fortunate- unlike most of the other people in my life, I don't get bitten that much.. the bugs don't really bug me. I run from wasps because they are just mean and spiders are... spiders are a whole other story.. ugh. I just find them a little creepy- NOT that I have anything to worry about living where I do... I just don't like all those itty bitty furry legs. Mosquito's though- they would rather dine on the other people then me. I'm like leftover Jell-o to them- tasty but who'd want boring ol' Jell-o when they can have Chocolate Mousse , Crème Brûlée or Pecan Pie.

However, take me to the sea side and put me on the sand in sandals and watch as the sand fleas eat away at my tender feet! Sand fleas totally dig Jell-o, I think! It's really not that horrible, I end up with about a half dozen tiny red bites along the tops of my feet and ankles that last for about a week. I get optimum scratching out of them and the mosquito's still don't bother me! Plus it means to me that I was at the beach and that I had fun- THE most important thing in my life... To have fun.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Old Love Hurts

My heart is pounding, palms sweaty, I'm light headed and I feel as though I've had too much coffee. Fear. I pick up the phone and dial the numbers... slowly, postponing what I am dreading. My tummy is sick and I don't want to do this but I want this to stop.

*takes a deep breath and picks up the phone again just as you send me another message*

Thursday, June 25, 2009

B In The City: June 25- July 2 2009

Weekly list of some of the events going on in Calgary for the week of June 25th - July 2 2009

Calgary Jazz Festival
If jazz of any sort is your thing I've heard some amazing things so far.
June 24th- June 28th at various venues
See website for details and tickets

Russell Peters: 20th Anniversary Tour
Need I say more?
Playing one night at the Saddledome June 26th @ 8pm
Tickets still available $52.25-$100
NOTE: Russell Peters Official After Party at Flames Central, tickets $20

Paul Potts
Before Susan Boyle there was Paul Potts- Mum's everywhere (or at least mine) is waiting patiently for this night
Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, June 28,
Tickets $49.50-$89.50

Free Gas at Shoppers Drug Mart
Spend $75 at Shoppers Drug Mart and receive a $20 Esso Gas Card (are there any Esso's left in the city?)
June 27th-27th


Stephen Avenue Walk Green Market (On Going)
Every Thursday from 10:00am to 3:00pm, Stephen Avenue Walk will be the location for a new green market. Fresh food, fresh music and fresh people...
Stephen Avenue Walk is situated along 8 Ave SW downtown.
Starting June 25th every Thursday till August.

Sled Island
I know I mentioned this last week but still... go.
June 24th- June 27th at various venues
Please see website for ticket info

AND I quote from the web page "One of Calgary's Newest & Hottest night clubs is so popular because of its OLD SCHOOL/RETRO vibe. Along with the funky decor, the DJ brings it back to the 80's & 90's with the best old school Mash-ups! Vinyl has revolutionized the night club scene by moving backwards through time. "
Didn't the place just open? I'm not a bar going kinda girl but who can turn down a retro dance party with a bunch of strangers?
located 213 10 Ave SW, Cover $8 (includes coat check)


My Choice Picks if I wasn't already slammed full of stuff this weekend:
Sled Island or Calgary Jazz Festival ... (or if you are particularly ambitious BOTH) nothing beats being music drunk. THOUGH if you are under the age of 25 you might actually want to go check out Vinyl but then I might doubt that you'd even remember the 80's. Of course I plan to buy some num-num's at the Stephen Avenue market this summer... I just forgot today. Tuna was calling my name and so was "Bear-a-me".

Hide-a-TV

I want to hide my TV- well... it's actually my computer but it's my TV too. I fought with my living room last night- I packed up and moved EVERYTHING out of there in an attempt to rearrange it (goal was to make the TV a non-focal point in the room). Long story short I put everything back to the way it was and got a bonus work out to boot (who needs the gym when you find yourself pulling a full sectional/hide-a-bed couch around for 3 hours... alone).

AARGH!!! My space is smallish (not New York apartment small but 1000 sq feet total small) and I'm trying to make the most of what I've got... I'm just frustrated. I want it all- I want a space that is comfortable and inviting for a casual night alone or with friends... AND I want to be able to entertain and not have an awkward TV in the way. I rent so I can mount much other then some art on the walls and I can't paint anything an exciting color.

I thought perhaps of putting a decorative screen in front of the space that houses my computer/TV/entertainment centre but that feels like even more bulk in an already small space. I've toyed with the idea of just getting rid of the whole lot but THEN what will I do when Gossip Girl comes back for it's 3 season... I'll have nothing to watch it on! *sigh* So perhaps I could create a space behind my stand that I can slip my screen into when I'm not using it? Lucky for me, most of the contraptions of my computer are hidden with the exception of the 24" monitor.

I understand that really, it's not that important. It's not like my life is going to end because my computer screen is the focal point of my room. I just want my place to feel like home and right now home is where the computer screen is. blah.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Time

Time? Is that you?? Is it time? Time to go back to bed is what I am waiting for... I've been run-run-run for weeks it seems. My usual 9pm curfew has been blown out of the water and I haven't even been THINKING about bed never mind getting into bed till after midnight. Good news is I am still getting up at 6am! Way-ta-go there Blanche!

Last night I saw Fleetwood Mac just by fluke! The company I work for has an executive box as the Pengrowth Saddledome so long story short- they gave me tickets. Amazingly- my friends and I were THE only ones in the box so we had an intimate dance off party for 3 hours. It was great.

I really do think I should have been born 15 years before I actually was- no matter how much I enjoy current music nothing really sticks to my bones like classic rock.

So regardless, I didn't fall asleep till the wee hours of the morning. My body is use to it through- it's been doing in most of the month. Only complaint- I'm falling asleep making spreadsheets. Zzzzzz.... doing the nod and bob is usually frowned upon at work.

It's been a busy week (my head is cloudy) and I still have lots to report just haven't found the time or motivation to get back on the computer after having been on it all day. Time will come and I'll tell you a bit about my holidays.

Ta for now!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What's In Your Freezer?

It was during a recent conversation with Laura that she informed me of the death of Shakespeare, the shop pet. He was a chatty blue budgie who I had spent much time making bird noises with while waiting for Laura to finish up at work. Sondra, the shop owner, took Shakespeare to the vet last week because he wasn't acting like his typical Shakespeare self. Sadly, the vet put him down so Sondra took his little body home and put it in the freezer-

"The FREEZER?!" I said, shocked.
"Yes," said Laura "the freezer."
"I've never heard of such a thing..." trailing off in though... I pictured myself at Sondra's house opening up the freezer to look for food and finding a frozen budgie instead. *shudder*

Laura then went on to tell me about the things her former roommate (who is also one of her good friends) left behind in their freezer:
  1. a piece of her parents wedding cake

  2. a piece of cake that had something to do with her sisters daughter

  3. a dead hamster from 10 years ago

  4. AND (wait for it)... her sisters placenta from her first born child. Just in case.
I was shocked, all I have in my freezer is food that I plan to eat like frozen veggies, ice cream, cookie dough... Again, my mind wandered off into the dark world of reaching into the freezer for a popsicle and pulling out someones frozen placenta. *shudders* This makes the dead bird seem a lot more acceptable now. I guess people can be sentimental about things and who am I to judge. I still have some old love letters I got in Jr High School, but I don't keep those in the freezer. I suppose I understand the cake- especially the parents wedding cake. But weren't they suppose to eat that on their first year wedding anniversary?


"Another wedding cake tradition is to have the top layer of the cake made out of fruit cake. This layer is saved and frozen for the bride and groom to eat on their first anniversary."


Aw how romantic... I don't think I could wait a year for cake. Oh wait.. it's fruit cake- I can wait.
So tell me, what do you keep in your freezer?

What To Do Calgary: June 18th- June 25th 2009

This is a test post- I don't know if I will ever write another one like it! I suppose it's a passion of mine, knowing what's going on in the city- where to eat, what to do and where to party (though I don't really party). Here are some of the picks for the week- though I am sure there is a lot more then I've mentioned. Let me know if you happened to take up one of the events and what you thought..Evil Dead- the Musical
If you're into zombies and you haven't seen this yet- buy your tickets soon because it's almost done never to come back again (this year.). Word of advice... I understand "the splatter zone" after seeing THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE and that perhaps wearing white is your best option. Enjoy!
Playing now till July 12th (extended due to popular demand) at Vertigo Theater Centre
Tickets $48.50 (see website for details)

Sled Island '09
4 days of parties, music, art and film- You are bound to find new things to lust after.
Taking place June 24th- 27th all over the city (including Tubby Dog)
Full VIP Pass to all events $199
Festival Pass $99

Summer Art Classes at Studio Todorovic
Can't commit to a full course but want to take art classes- Studio Todorovic at Art Central has what you need!
Starting June 20th - July 18th Open Studio & Workshops “Saturday Sessions” 10 am - 1 pm
Bring your own materials or buy them here!
(student discounts apply)
3 hours for $52.50 per attendee
Located at Art Central

Calgary Folk Festival: early bird tickets
Just a little reminder that the early bird ticket sales for this years Calgary Folk Festival ends on June 21th. Hurry to get your passes!
Early Bird Adult 4 day pass $130
or you can pick it up at Megatunes on 17th Ave (I *heart* Megatunes)
Check out what the festival has to offer!

Fathers Day Run and Walk
We can't let mum's have all the fun! Say "Happy Fathers Day" by walking in this fundraiser to end prostate cancer.
June 21, $35 (registration closes June 20)

A Summer Solstice Champagne Bus Tour
Now THIS sounds like my kind of pub crawl! Put on by Slow Food Calgary they explain this even best... "This progressive dinner welcomes summer, on the road and rolling from Calgary to Black Gold Country and back again. After a welcoming glass of Champagne, embark by bus from The Cookbook Co. Cooks (722-11 Ave. SW), with delicious pit stops in Okotoks, Black Diamond and Turner Valley at Divine, Bistro Provence, Wild Horse Bistro and Route 40 Soup Co."
Sunday June 21 @ 4pm
Tickets are $100 for members; $110 for none members.
For more information or to book your seat call 403-265-6066


Mmmm this is making me hungry...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday's Coming, Did You Bring Your Coat?

There are some things in life that just never stop being amazing.

(Thank you Myles)

Real Age?

Today I was watching an old episode of Oprah on You Tube. In the episode they were chatting about being the best you you can be. It was a week long series of episodes that touched on health, sexuality, spirituality, money and Oprah gaining her weight back. They brought up something called "Real Age" and it was a test that you took online (for free) that told you due to your life style what your REAL age was.

One woman was devastated when a year before she had the "Real Age" of 60 something but in reality was only 41. She had her moment of awareness and started making changes in her life so when Oprah and Dr. Oz followed up with her a year late she had brought her "Real Age" down to below her actual age- following me? No- that's OK... you don't need too...

Curious about this I logged on to the site and starting taking the test. After taking the test for 1 minutes and entering my email a million times I got the calculations of my "Real Age". I was amazed that I was 4.5 years "younger" then what I actually am. The site which kept my preferences saved scolded me for worrying too much and not doing any strength training. Oh and for being on birth control *shrugs*.

There are these things- like this- that pop up in my life that always seem to surprise me. I worry (see I worry to much.) that I'm not as healthy as I actually am or have as much money as I really do. Maybe I'm smarter then I think or happier then I tell myself I am. Seems as though I have limited my thinking a bit... Hmmm that's something to be aware of.

Anyway- being that I am only in my early 20's now I can stay up a little later and watch an episode of 24- it's been a few days and I wonder what kind of trouble Kim has gotten herself into now.

What's your "Real Age"?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Free Music For The Week of June 15th

There is an online Canadian music store called Zunior and every two weeks they release a compliation album with a bunch of fantastic up and coming artists. It's nothing mainstream which is fine by me and it's all free- no questions asked! It's awesome and though I keep iTunes in business it sure beats thier once a week free download (which is usually something that I've already purchased 3 weeks prior.).

So visit the site --> Zunior
and download the free music --> Free Music


Previews - Zunior Music Sampler ver.4.11
1)
Let's Break Up -
Hayden
2)
Swallowing Werewolves (I Hear Mary Timony Used to Live Here) -

Bloodsport
3)
Lowiza -

The Lovely Feathers
4)
Independence Is No Solution -

The Blankket
5)
Walk On Boy -

Jim Byrnes
6)
Long Hauling -

Copilots
7)
I Know Nothing Anymore -

Dave Marsh
8)
A Thousand Jacobs -

Flotilla
9)
Imaginary Friends -

Little Girls
10)
Against the Day -

Land of Kush

"They Said Their 'thank-yous' and Departed... "

thank-you
n.
An expression of gratitude: said their thank-yous and departed.

Some might argue that thank-you keeps the same company as other assumed over used words like love and sorry. They have become so much a part of our day to day conversations that they have lost all meaning. It's become somewhat stylish to be complacent and unaware of other people in their lives... Or at least this has been a recent experience of mine.

The expression of gratitude is delicious for both the thank-er and the thank-ie. Think back to the last time someone give you a genuine appreciation... more then likely you did something common that you would usually do. One time I went with a friend of mine to Walmart to help him pick up stuff for a new place that he had just bought. I didn't do anything special... I just walked up and down the aisles with him and chatted- helping him to the car with some of the bags. No big deal- the next day though he sent me a wonderful little card thanking me for my company. It was sweet.

The absence of thank you can often be detected. I never find myself feeling entitled to have another person swoon in gratitude over things like I do (often going over the top when something is tasty and makes my belly happy.). I do search for some type of subtle reaction though, a sigh of contentment or an expression of enjoyment is all the appreciation I need- after that the words are just dessert (if they happen to appear).

So be aware, look at the people around you and all that they do. Tell them you are grateful for who they are and how they contribute to you life. If they are important to you then it's important for you to express that.

Thank you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just Don't Drink the Unpasteurized Milk

In and amongst my Internet hiking today I came across this fancy dancy link:

WAIT! Don't leave just yet!!! So I lied about it being "fancy-dancy" but it is "sustainable-obtainable"!

This year, at least five farms just on the outskirts of Calgary will sell fruits, vegetables, meats or herbs—all (literally) at their front door. Gate sales are seasonal, so check with the individual farms before heading out. June is a great month for asparagus, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes and tomatoes. PLUS we are just teetering on the edge of strawberry season...
Mmmmm...
**
Here is a copy of the guide in case you'd rather not get them to mail you one: the guide

Tisk- Tisk

Nothing says “Welcome back to work- we’ve noticed that you have been wasting your morning on none work related things.” like a big fat paper cut.


tisk-tisk

Up

I'm not sure what it is about animated movies... I hate (yes- HATE.) about 96% of them. I get annoyed at the how unlikely Nemo's escape could really be or that Happy Feet still has his baby feathers as a grown bird (and he picks the most superficial girl bird on the iceberg.). It's silly and pointless I know but they bother me... a lot. I don't usually watch them because it's often so hit and miss with me, even Bolt which I found entertaining... I had a hard time with it. Mostly because I really don't like the idea of a lost dog (enter scene of me bawling like a baby for 1/3rd of the movie- what am I? 8???).

On Saturday I saw the movie Up- an animated movie from Pixar I had NO intention of watching. From the trailer it looked like it was about a grumpy old man floating around in a house powered by a huge bushel of helium balloons. I had however heard a bit of a rumble about it being "good!" "great!" "wonderful!" and I just like watching movies so I went.

  • First of all- see it. I enjoyed it so I imagine that the rest of the world will adore it.
  • Second of all- bring tissue. I cried sobbed through most of it.
  • Third- if you know dogs. See it. Period.

The animation was stunning. The story was overwhelmingly heart warming and there was just right mix of adult and children storyline to make it compatible for all ages. I was surprised at how much I resonated with the movie... and how I was the only one in a theater of 30 children who was bawling her eyes out *ahem*. Though I must tell you that for every good cry there were about 2 good laughs.

I'm trying not to say too much as to not spoil the story if you choose to watch it. Do watch it though.. it's good for the heart and the mind. I mean, you can only go Up from there....

(BOOOOO HISSSSSS!! I know, I know...)

I've Been Away

Oops- I guess that was a little rude of me. I took off without even saying Goodbye. I'm sorry!

I've been away for the last few weeks on a magical adventure exploring the west coast of Canada. I have many tales and the pictures to illustrate but haven't really felt much like sitting in front of the computer and putting the work into publishing them (so to speak.). I haven't even spent much time unpacking.

I got back home late Saturday night- I threw all my bags and such on the floor and went straight to bed. The next day- kicking it all to the side- I showered and dashed out the house. The sun was beating down and it air was finally warm (that was a loooong winter *shudders*) so I spent most of the day going into shops and trying a few new pub that opened up near my place. I read my stolen Sunday paper in the park and didn't come in till the thunder clouds became alarmingly close (false alarm).

When I got home from sunning myself I ended up doing a bit of unpacking but I avoided the laundry. I did empty my suitcases (half heatedly.), put my shoes away and make a small trip to the grocery store so I wouldn't starve to death. I listened to a few of my accumulated Podcasts and watched a little 24 (I'm half way through season 2- I'm so behind in the times.). To be honest- and forgive me if I offend any of you- Jack Bauer is a bit annoying and Mr. Sutherland looks like he drinks too much in real life. He has that stringy-limb alcoholic look to him. Not sure how accurate that assumption is.

So here I am at work- not really sure where to start. It feels semi-good to be back but still... I'd rather be fishing.