Thursday, September 30, 2010

Now Just Hold On A Second

Riq using the tree to scratch his back

So, I could continue on and blab about this and that and all these wonderful silly things that happen in my life and just how I am. Truth be told, I have other things going on too. We all do don't we. We all have stories and times when things seem a bit much and than there are those times when it feels like you can't do anything wrong in life.

Usually I am feel fantastic but I've take a bit of a trip and things have sort of stalled me a bit. I'm good- regardless. I will be for year, decades and maybe even a century. Or at least that is what I am trying to convince myself. No, I'm really okay.

There won't be a thanks giving dinner this October which is unfortunate, it's one of my favorite holidays. Spending all that time with some of the people closest to me- it's great. It's pretty rare that we are ALL together at the same time, this year will not be any different. My mum is going in for another surgery. Apparently they found something that looks like the "C" word (Cancer) and so she is being operated on Tuesday. My oldest sister is coming in from Vancouver for the day. I think she suddenly feels left out of my parents life because she has been so focused on her self, which is fine. She has made a successful business for herself but I think it just kind of slipped her mind that time is moving a long and with that we are all getting older.

Because of my family situation my parents are older then other parents of children my age so their health appears more fragile and I am slowing coming to terms with the fact that they will die. As enlightening as that thought is I know that one day I will have to deal with that. Each minor health issue that pops up for either my father or my mother is just one more reminder that time is moving along.  I am the executor of both my parents will and two of my siblings. This whole death thing that everyone is talking about right now is pretty sobering and the shitting thing is I was never drunk to begin with. I didn't need sobering up.

So, over the last year there has been a lot of sickness and death in my family. Lots of surgeries and everyone taking full advantage of our socialized health care system (thank goodness). It might not help that I am in the line of work that I am. I deal with illness, injury and death on a daily bases (in between spreadsheets and RRSP's). It's weird to talking to someone one week and the next requesting death certificates from grieving family members.

The good news is I haven't been sick in a while and after having my whole body checked over I am as healthy as a horse (Naaay)- minus a health dose of stress. we all need a little to know we are alive.  Bonus points for keeping up with my Sinus Rinse- BOOYAH!

I've been working on some things in my life that need to be refreshed. I refuse to let life slip me by without actually trying to partake in it however because I am facing fears it hasn't all been pleasant. I'm working on it through...

Our family's oldest dog, Riq is sick too. That is always a difficult thing. He has cancer and my mum has done everything possible to try and keep on top of the tumors but it has gotten to be too much. So now we have embarked on a waiting game. It has been hard watching him slow down- his spirits are still high and elated but he sleeps more. Walks slower and just over all is showing his age. He has lived a full life and isn't ready to go just yet but again, preparation is key. Doesn't make it any less sad though and the hard thing is I feel as thought I have to justify my sadness. Some people just don't understand the depth of connection between an animal and a human. No bereavement time for me.

Sometimes I get tired of pretending that none of this is going on inside of my head and truly this isn't the half of it. Along with the fluff, trivial knowledge  and music lyrics there are thoughts that aren't as pleasing to the mind. I don't really know when to talk about it either, I see that everyone else has their own troubles and I just don't want to get involved with my own. Is this really show and tell? I guess this goes back to a post I wrote a month or so ago about being human.. That to be human is to be everything that you are, not just selective portions.  

Being human can be uncomfortable. But I wouldn't change it for the world.

So this is me being authentic- this is who I am right this very moment and I am okay with that. Candy diet, University courses and all. This is also my blog so I give myself permission to say whatever the heck I want to say.

and with that I say Good Night- sleep tight.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Confession: I've Hit Rock (Candy) Bottom

According to Lay-la: One spoonful is a snack but two is a meal.

I hit rock bottom on Friday- actually it was Saturday morning when I looked around my kitchen and realised all I had to eat were Tootsie Rolls, Mustard and Peanut Butter. Wednesday night when I got home from class I had a handful of chocolate chips as my dinner. Thursday night when I got home at 8:00pm I had a handful of Tootsie Rolls. Friday as I was studying for my test and working on an assignment I had two spoonfuls of peanut butter. Me, the food snob.  Me,  the girl who doesn't eat processed food. Me, the girl who loves to cook wholesome meals from scratch is also the girl who ate the  dream diet of an 8 year old last week. Enough is enough. I would have been better off with a can of soup or Kraft Dinner.

So enough is enough, it's time I get cooking. I don't really have time too but I'm sure I can throw together something that would have more substance then brown chewy mystery sweets (Mmmm Tootsie Rolls- who here LOVES Tootsie Rolls?) wrapped in sticky wax paper.

I have a slow cooker but I'm scared to use it- afraid I'll come home to a burnt down condo. Also, some days I don't get home for 12-14 hours. Is it possible that a slow cooker might be able to work with that length of time?

I don't like to buy frozen pre-made dinners from the store, I would rather make it myself (which I'm not doing right now).

I want to make things that are low maintenance, tasty and healthy. Come along creative people- what are your suggestions? Creations? Share!

Anyone want to come over and be my Stepford Wife?

Picture of "Peanut Butter on a Spoon" courtesy of : The Perfect Pantry

Friday, September 24, 2010

On This Harvest Moon

the moon is climing high

Last night was a Harvest Moon. Actually a super Harvest Moon. What that means is the full moon, the harvest moon of September, falls exactly on the Autumnal Equinox. It doesn't happen very often, maybe once every 15 years.

It's called a Harvest Moon because of the extra light it used to give the farmers at the time of harvest. Almost like borrowed day light. Hanging low in the sky, often expelling a warm glow. It appears to our eyes larger than life but that is all part of an illusion. It's a stunning site which just adds to the settled romance of autumn.

Come a little bit closer
Hear what I have to say
Just like children sleepin'
We could dream this night away.

But there's a full moon risin'
Let's go dancin' in the light
We know where the music's playin'
Let's go out and feel the night.

When we were strangers
I watched you from afar
When we were lovers
I loved you with all my heart.

But now it's gettin' late
And the moon is climbin' high
I want to celebrate
See it shinin' in your eye.

Because I'm still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I'm still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

-Harvest Moon by Neil Young

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mamma Yamma

I was cultivated in a garden behind Anne Murray's House

Who is Mamma Yamma? who is she? It? I have no idea... all I know is she is being interviewed on my favorite radio show this morning. I heard somewhere as well that she might be a yam. A yam.. I hate yams. Yuck.

So, in an attempt to learn something I Googled Mamma Yamma and learnt the following.

Mamma Yamma is a yam with two passions - food and music. From her now famous Kensington Market Kitchen in the heart of urban Toronto, Mamma uses cooking and food as a springboard for learning about nutrition, cultural diversity, manners and mathematics. As Mighty Mamma, this yam helps kids learn the importance of a healthy breakfast as she defeats the evil Breakfast Froog. Mamma is perhaps best known for the spontaneous concerts that happen in her kitchen when friends like Sam Roberts, Serena Roberts and Rita MacNeil drop by.

Manners? Food? Music? All the things I love and all of this coming from a YAM? Maybe it's time I change my opinion on them. I mean really, I am a friend to Yam and Sweetpotatos alike because I just don't eat them. To me that sounds pretty friendly.

Mamma Yamma with Calgary's own Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara tapped this performance on Canada’s CBC kids show Mamma Yamma last winter but it finally aired and it’s hilarious. They had to change the lyrics to Sara’s song, Alligator to make it more kid friendly

We're Still Friends

A Yam (Mamma Yamma) and a Fish (salmon de champlain) - singing a nice song about being friends even though they are different.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Want South Park Pajamas Too

I'm a little behind everyone else, I'm at least the first to admit THAT, but I came across this image of Katy Perry (did I spell that right?) in some of the cutest pajamas ever:

“celebrating all the love from the #1′s around the world in my new South Park pj’s on the bus! (whilst being photo bombed)” -Katy Perry via Twitter

Who doesn't want a pair of those? Super cute, pretty sexy in a South Park pajama kind of way and they look ultra comfy. The only thing that would make them better is if they included footed bottoms. You know the kind, the ones that cover the whole foot making slippers and socks obsolete for bed time. 

The pajama set was created by fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac for his chain of JC/DC stores. She apparently purchased them from the Paris boutique Colette  which aside from the loud music that almost made me pee my pants this morning SCARY! - it's a super cute site with great lines and items. It is apparent to me that I am ready to visit Paris. That is whole other post though...


I Want.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy

Get along now Cindy, Cindy. Get Along...

A few years ago when I was a part of a band we covered old folk songs like Li'l Liza Jane, Oh Suzanna, Boil em' Cabbage Down and Don't Leave Nobody But The Baby. We were awesome live. Lazy hot summers spent sitting on Laura's back deck filling the night with pretty harmonies and new versions of old songs.  Those were good times and it was a sad day when we all went our separate ways.

Being the hard core Led Zeppelin fan I am I of course picked up the new Robert Plant solo album. I loved his last creation with Alison Krauss titled Raising Sands from 2007. Favorites include Stick With Me Baby, Please Read the Letter, and Gone Gone Gone. So when Band of Joy came out it was a must. The whole thing. His voice is the same as it was back in the 70's but he mixes it with his first love. Gritty blues and folk. You can even hear a little  Honeydrippers in some of the songs. Tracks that stick out to me right off the bat are:  

Central Two-O-Nice
Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down
You Can't Buy My Love
Angel Dance

and then...
Cindy, I'll Marry You Some Day.

Cindy was a song we use to sing in our little band. It was a sweet little version when we did it but Robert Plant takes the original and brings it to life like I've never heard.

It brings me back to my jamming days.Those glorious days that are now a faded but fond memory.

How has music made a presence in your life?
Did you even belong to a band?
Do you sing in the shower?

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Orleans

"it's the hotel you dream of discovering"

This year it has not been a secret that I have not taken any holidays. Sure, I've booked the odd day off work for this, that and the other but honestly, I have not traveled outside of the city since last year. Oh wait, that is a lie. I blocked out the traveling I've done for work. Sure, I had made plans. Initially I was hoping to move to New York city for about a month or so and live in an adorable brown stone in Greenwich Village but that ended up not working out because my traveling companion was a wee bit tardy at getting back to me. So, I have slowly dreamt up a master plan which I would love to execute in 2011.

I get close to a month off for holidays so I was thinking about spreading it out between 3 American cities.

1 week in San Francisco
1 week in New York City (even though my brother will no longer be there)
1 week in New Orleans

I am most excited about New Orleans because of  things such as the music, culture, history, food and the influence it has had on the rest of North America. It's different then any other place you might visit in the USA and NOTHING at all like Canada (though I guess you could compare it to the FAR east coast in the sense that it goes through life following the beat of it's own drum.). Since then I've found TV and volunteer program, movies and blogs devoted to the New Orleans experience. Most recently was my GOOP newsletter.

I'm dreaming about Crawfish, Beignets, ground roasted chicory coffee (yes, coffee), sweet tea, Hushpuppies and Gumbo. Mmmmm...

Ideally, it appears that one of the best places to stay in the French Quarter as called the Soniat House. Apparently it's not haunted (which is a good thing if I believed in that kind of stuff- though I do love a good ghost story), it smells like Jasmine and they serve the BEST BISCUITS which are delivered in a basket with a hot stone underneath, and a side of strawberry jam. Nom-nom-nom.

As well, I am sure that there are other wonderful places to stay too- this one just perked my interest.

I'm excited! Not sure when I should go- being that I am of somewhat of a a tame personality that doesn't drink much I would love to go to Mardi Gras but wonder if it's just a bit too much party for me as a first experience. Everything is a party in New Orleans so I'm sure I won't miss out even if I plan a trip for the middle of June.

So have you ever been to New Orleans? If yes, any words of the wise?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Valley of Doom

...take me to Vegas
Cuz my heart's feeling wild
Where no one could save us
There's not a preacher for miles
Drag me out to the desert
Under a neon haze
We'll get so lost in life's sticky ways

So say what you want
I am what I am
But for you I will be

 a better man...

Little Adults

The life

It seems that my little niece and nephew are growing up really fast, becoming little adults before my eyes. My brother and his family live in New York City so I haven't really spent much time with either of these wonderful little creatures. The whole family will be coming down at Christmas before they all move to Oxford, England. It appears that my brother was head-hunted by the University of Oxford- the oldest and one of the most prestigious universities in the English speaking world. I'm so proud of him! He's a brilliant man making waves in the scientific world with his research and findings. Simply put, he is trying to find a cure for cancer. To view some of his papers published in Cell click HERE.  

I'm just so proud of him.
He's using what was given him for the goodness of the world (even if he did chase me around the house when I was little with bloody tissues from his bleeding nose).
Go Tom GO!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dear Sick People

Dear Sick People,

I'm sorry that it has come to this but I am going to have to ask you to go home. For real. You are sick and and nasty and coughing and you are touching the scanner/printer/fax machine with your nasty sick infested hands- and not washing. You are gross. You are not doing yourself or anyone here any favors by being here. I get that you are accountable for your job and need to get things done but really, you are not being a trouper. You are being gross and need to go home and never come back until you are better.

Go use some sinus rinse, drink some tea,  have some chicken noodle soup, get into bed and sleep it off. I don't want to see you until you are better.

Don't get me wrong, I like you. Really, I do. But your cooties have to go.

Get Better Soon!

Lots of Love,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

Mum says they are "good" for you.

Everyone today at work is taking about the potential for snow (yes snow) on Thursday. I refuse to believe it but must admit that it has potential- we have had a very un-Calgary like summer. It rained most of the time only having a few days of above 30°C days. Anyways, while everyone is talking snow I'm thinking about food- that isn't anything unusual.  Mainly I am thinking about sweets and the basics that build up the average North American cuisine, vegetables, pasta, Hot Pockets - the list goes on and on --mind you, I've never had a hot pocket but I do know a lot of people who eat them. I also know a lot of unhealthy eaters.

From Tim Horton’s to maple-flavored… well… everything, Canadians have a well-documented sweet tooth that’s seemingly impossible to satisfy.

Case in Point: Nanaimo Bars.
This no-bake dessert starts out with a graham wafer bottom, a midsection made of custard, and a top made out of chocolate. There seem to be infinite variations, ranging from mint to Grand Marnier, but that doesn’t make the original any less delicious.

As you can probably guess from the name, the Nanaimo Bar was popularized just outside of Nanaimo, British Columbia — but was it actually born there? The origins of this delicious chocolaty treat are a subject of great debate amongst dessert loving food historians.The first time a recipe for Nanaimo Bars showed up in print was in the 1952 “The Woman’s Auxiliary to the Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook.” At that time, the treat was referred to as “Chocolate Slices.” Two years later the term “Nanaimo Bars” began showing up in print — a term that some suggest was popularized by US tourists who would indulge in the tasty treat when vacationing in the region. But where did this recipe actually come from?

One claim suggests that the treat originated in New Brunswick. Another suggests it was a New York recipe from the 30’s. Some even think the treats may have originated in England in the late 1800’s, with the bars being shipped by relatives to coal workers in Nanaimo (though considering the lack of adequate refrigeration back then, this seems to be an unlikely scenario at best.).The most compelling evidence suggests that these date back to the early 1930’s in Alberta, where (Of course) “smog bars” were relatively common, and shared a virtually identical recipe.

Regardless of it’s origins, few Canadian treats are as sweet or as tasty as a Nanaimo Bar. Why not try to make your own? This recipe from  Joyce Harscastle was declared the ultimate Nanaimo Bar recipe by the City of Nanaimo back in 1986!

Monday, September 13, 2010

School Starts Tomorrow

I am here- Later.

Tomorrow I start my first class at the University of Calgary. *gulp* I'm actually pretty excited even though the though of it makes me a little woozy and spinney. As I've expressed before, I would rather be going in the direction of a registered dietitian however:

A) I would have to upgrade my High School (not a big deal)
B) My work won't pay for it (Kind of a big deal- school is expensive!)
C) I'd have to move AND quit my job (BIG deal)

Ideally, I would love to dive in to that adventure but for now- it's not in the cards. This is what is in the cards and I'm okay with that because my work will pay for it, I don't have to quit my job or move and I don't have to worry about my High School (for now).

On Saturday I went down to campus and tried to get a feel for the lay of the land as well, visiting the U of C book store and gasping at the prices of textbooks - why SO freaking expensive? I couldn't find used or second hand books anywhere (I looked a few times prior to going down) so I got the mint-condition-shrink-wrapped-version for top dollar.

I have to confess, I would love to quit my middle class job and go to school full time, getting a degree in something exciting. So I can become a Geologist or a Scientist, an Engineer or a Santa.

Anything, anyone. Learning is addicting, I can't get enough of it. I'm excited, it feels like I'm getting the ball rolling again and causing doors to open and life to spread itself wide for me. One just never knows where even the smallest things in life can lead us.

Are you glad you went to school for what you did?
Would you like to go back and take something else?
WHY are textbooks so expensive?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Santa Claus School

The First Lesson in Santa 101 is patience.

One of the many ambitions I had in life while growing up was to be a witch. Little did I know that there was a school called The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School (established in 1937). If I had know of this school earlier then I may have changed my sights and grown a white beard and a big fat jiggly belly. I mean, I already have the cookie binge eating down to an art. Sure. I'm not a man and I'm better with animals then I am with children but I can learn. I just haven't been around them.

Seriously though, was it even conceivable in your mind that there might actually be a Santa Claus school. It's magical in a way.
Charles W. Howard first portrayed Santa Claus in the 4th grade for a school play. He kept playing Santa and his reputation grew; he soon became one of the most sought-after Santa's in the area, and then the whole nation. Between 1948 to 1965, he was the featured Santa Claus in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and perhaps the most visible Santa in the United States. He taught his Santa philosophies and methods to both Santa's and executives from department stores across the country. Charles even went so far as to travel to Australia to teach Santa's there the way of "The Claus".

Charles W. Howard died in 1966 just shy of his 70th birthday. Today, the School continues running under Tom and Holly Valent, who themselves have portrayed Santa and Mrs. Claus for over thirty years.

We all might benefit a little from a touch of Santa school, don't you think? Compassion, patience, and a little magic (never mind a healthy appetite)- all things that we could use more of in our lives.

Class begins at 9:00am on October 7th, 2010.

"Believing...Sincerely in Santa"

Friday, September 3, 2010

If Historical Events Had Facebook Pages

This is the best thing I've seen all week.

Maybe even all year. Too bad the images didn't copy as well as I would have liked...

Happy Friday

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What I Learnt In Dance Class

It makes no difference if you're black or white

If you're a boy or a girl
If the music's pumping it will give you new life
You're a superstar, yes, that's what you are, you know it
Beauty's where you find it
Not just where you bump and grind it
Soul is in the musical
That's where I feel so beautiful
Magical, life's a ball
So get up on the dance floor

So, my dance class adventure has come to a close- for now. I had a lot of fun, met some interesting people and learnt that it's not about being "the best" it's about having the most fun. Sounds like a cliche, I know but it's true. I'm not going to lie. I can move my body. I can wiggle,  pump my fists and flail with reckless abandonment. However following instruction- to a set beat- isn't my natural, all organic cup of tea. I get a little lost and a little flustered and the worst part is being that way when we are going two by two across the room with the rest of the class watching our every move.

It was then that I decided that I was not going to master the art of Funk Fusion in a night or 5 but I could master the art of having fun. So I did. I tried my best and every night I practice- still as awkward as the first time but I don't care. I'm still having fun even if it is just in the kitchen.

The first things we learnt were based on West African moves. There was a lot of getting down low, moving our booty and shimming. Just as I started to get that down we switched over to something I have never heard of before, Waaking and Voguing. Well snizzel wizzel if that wasn't right up my fierce, over dramatic alley.

The Waacking style of street dance can trace its roots back to gay and nightclub cultures. In the United States, at gay nightclubs, male performers dressed as women and performed to female songs on stage. Movements of the performers were so creative that it was only a matter of time before Waacking made its way into mainstream nightclubs, as a way of the dance floor and earned its approval amongst other sexualities, especially straight. Waacking is often wrongly considered a style of House Dance.

At the time Waacking was primarily a gay Black and Latino dance. Many people mistakenly believe that “Waacking” came from “Locking” because some of the movements are very similar. The Gay community is solely responsible for the creation of Waacking style of dance. Waacking and Locking do have some similarities but they are different dances.

A Waacking Battle

Vogue or "voguing" is a highly stylized, modern house dance, that evolved out of the Harlem ballroom dance scene. Vogue is characterized by model-like poses, inspired by Vogue (magazine), integrated with angular, linear and rigid arm, leg and body movements. The style of dance arose from Harlem ballrooms in the early 1930s. This dance style was originally called "performance" and evolved into the more intricate and illusory form that is now called "vogue".

Voguing has evolved since its beginning and continues to be developed further as an established dance form that is practiced in the gay ballroom scene and gay clubs in major cities throughout the United States—mainly New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Miami, Detroit and Chicago.

Traditionally, Old Way Vouge rules dictated that one rival must "pin" another to "chop" (i.e. win the contest). Pinning involved the trapping of an opponent so that they could not execute any movements while the adversary was still in motion and voguing (usually voguing with the arms and hands, i.e. "hand performance", while the opponent was "pinned" against the floor during "floor exercises" or against a wall).

The difference between “Waacking” and “Voguing” is “Waacking” became popular in the early 70’s on the West Coast. “Waacking” is mostly done to Disco Music. “Voguing” became popular in the late 70’s on the East Coast.”Voguing” is done to mostly House Music

Vouging vs. Waacking a simple sample put together in a pretty package

So ladies and gents, this is what I learnt at Dance Class. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tasteful Memories

The chocolate one already has my finger print in it

When I was little and in gymnastics my Dad use to take me to my practices every Saturday morning. He's sit on the hard wooden benches and watch me for the 2 hours as I bounced, flew, and flipped my way through all the stations. He sat there every week for years as I worked myself up from a toddling-tot to a full fledged competitive gymnast. After every practice on the way home we would take a little detour to one of the local neighbourhood bakeries and buy a doughnut each. A special treat for the both of us (this is the person whom I believed to have inherited my sweet tooth from), he would get a Maple Glaze and I would get a Chocolate Glazed Long John.

One year the unmentionable happened... Our favorite bakery closed and we no longer went for doughnuts after practice. By this time I was getting bored of gymnastics so the whole tradition just became a tasteful memory from the past. Since then I have eaten many different doughnuts and I have found that they have become over processed, nasty, chewy masses of dough and synthetic flavor. Sure, I have my favorites now. The simple ones. The ones with less room for error but I don't eat the chocolate glazed- they never compared to the ones from my childhood.

Until now.

Recently I took a leap at the grill and restaurant in my office building. They have a wide variety of foods and lots of unhealthy and totally delicious baked goods. I started with the cookies which quickly became my favorites as well as my daily routine. Then one day they didn't have cookies so I tried a gleaming, glorious looking Chocolate Glazed Long John- like the one from my childhood. Taking my first bit- it tasted exactly how I remembered the one tasting on those Saturday afternoons after gymnastics. A flood of memories came storming into my mind and I was elated. Delighted. I had found my match.

So this was my memory this morning as I bit into this weeks Chocolate Long John treat. I would have taken a picture but who wants to see a picture of a few crumbs on a plate? It got it's self all eaten before I had the chance to pull out my camera phone.

What is your "tasteful memory"?