Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Favourites ver. 8

In which I post fun and favourite things from my week, every Friday!

What a busy week!! Many pictures today!

1. I did MUCH cooking this week. Including this chili, these cupcakes, this pasta, this corn bread, ice cream (recipe for manual), and vegetable soup and I'm making this pasta tonight.

The icing... ooo the icing...

I'm not going to tell you I chopped up Toblerone for the ice cream...

Ice Cream maker success!

2. WE BOOKED OUR FLIGHTS TO NYC. This trip is going to be SO FUN and includes visiting SO MANY fun people. 5 weeks, see you then :)

3. In my PT session on Tuesday, I told my trainer about a certain Life List item involving a certain left-side plank. I've already made progress, I can hold myself up on my left side for 35 seconds but still can't get my right leg up. Look out world, I'm going to plank the shit out of you.

4. RB and I helped my brother move last weekend. In going through some boxes, we came across a picture frame which showed the following:

Now why couldn't my hair stay that blond??

5. We went to Toronto a few weekends ago for my brother's girlfriend's birthday. She had a photobooth set up with a few props. The pictures are a riot but this one is certainly my favourite.

So much going on...

6. Last year we hosted a Super Bowl party of epic proportions. We had much food, much fun, and speakers in the bathroom so no one missed anything. We're planning round 2 for next weekend and I'm already looking up recipes to try out.

Do you have a suggestion for a Super Bowl snack?
What are the haps with your weekend?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

One thing

It's a sharing kind of day in the blogosphere.

I'm not a religious person. I didn't grow up in a religious household, I don't practise any form of religion.

When I was a kid, the only summer camp around was a Christian camp. I went for 12 summers. It was pretty standard, canoeing, swimming, crafts, etc but every evening we'd have a chapel session. I didn't mind it because there was always lots of singing and dancing. I was mostly unfazed by the bible reading etc. Overall, it was a great place to stay in the summer.

Each summer, there was a different 'guest' at camp that would bring a different lesson and lead the chapel sessions in the evenings. Kind of like a keynote for the week.

One particular summer, I think I was 15, a man (let's call him Ted) was the keynote. Ted brought with him many lessons and to his credit, he was a bit different and thus more interesting than previous keynotes. However, Ted was an asshole.

Each day, the campers were given a verse to memorize. Pretty standard church camp practise. Ted chose these verses and would explain why he chose them. One day, Ted chose a verse that was something to the effect of bad things happening because God is punishing us, similar to the thoughts of natural disasters happening as a result of pissing off God or for punishment. I can't remember it specifically but it was one of those 'can be interpreted 10 different ways but really shouldn't be' type of verses. Ted and I were chatting about this and he told me that I was a result of God's punishment. I was created as a message to others of the wrath of God.

I told you Ted was an asshole.

This confused me. It didn't so much upset me because I don't really believe in God and therefore don't take scripture seriously. It still threw me off, though because it was in bad taste, rude, and came from a person who I was supposed to respect. I soon learned that a few of the camp counselors weren't especially fond of Ted when my own counselor approached me after seeing Ted and I chatting. She asked me what we talked about and was shocked when she heard what he had said to me.

It was a moment of reality, when I realized that my counselor was talking to me as a friend and not as a superior, trained to always have a positive attitude and always be friendly. She was pissed and she told me that it was ok if I was, too.

I didn't realize it at the time, but that conversation with my counselor is part of the foundation of my being able to effortlessly brush off assholes like Ted. The keynote for the week was kind of a mini-celebrity at camp and everyone respected him. My counselor taught me I shouldn't let anyone treat me like shit, no matter how respected.

I don't care about how religious/atheist/whatever you are, NO ONE can tell you that you are not important. No one has that right. As someone going through life with a giant target and perceived disadvantage, these are the things that get me up in the morning.

Last night I was home alone preparing dinner with my radio turned up. This song came on and I let me hair fly and my hands wave. Sorry, my hand wave.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Favourites ver. 7

In which I post fun and favourite things from my week, every Friday!

1. I started reading The Return of the King this week. This puts me at 2/3 of the way through reading the series, and 2/3 of the way to accomplishing an item on my Life List! Fellowship was great, Two Towers dragged in the middle but ended with a BANG, hoping ROTK goes well...

2. I'm trying a new approach to finding inspiration for cooking dinner. When shopping for groceries, if there's a cut of meat on sale, I buy it. Then I come home and search for recipes. Lucky me, this week prime rib roasts were on sale. Also challenges my cooking skills.

3. I had my first Personal Training session on Monday. My ass still hurts. (hah, now THAT doesn't sound awkward...) I go back for #2 tomorrow. There are a lot of opinions on personal training. Yes, it's expensive and yes I could do it on my own. No, I wouldn't ever push myself that hard. So while it's pricey, it works.

4. This website - Corporate Twits. Twitter is a great way to get answers in the customer service department. These answers can be comical. Thank goodness someone is collecting them in a convenient website!

5. This clip from Super Troopers.

"Hey Farva, what's the name of that restaurant you like? With all the goofy shit on the walls and the mozzarella sticks?"

"You mean Shenanigan's?"

I think I mentioned before that I can recite just about every line from '10 Things I Hate About You' and 'Mean Girls'... add 'Super Troopers' to that list. I think I can blame that movie for my failing first year.

Jesus I have shitty (awesome?) taste in movies...

6. For those that have mentioned it - I am on Pinterest. I just... don't... really... use... it? Please use the words 'WTF' and 'Pinterest' in the title of your hate mail so I can filter it. I'll try, when I have 8 hours to kill. Find me under my full name.

Here's a fun site that is encouraging me to pin more - Pinterest, you are drunk. Kind of like Regretsy but with less vaginas (so far).

This weekend I'm cooking some prime rib, sewing some baby clothes, playing some frisbee. Also, turning 50.

What's up with you this weekend?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Meal Planning

I've always had a knack for cooking and feeding people. Since moving in with RB, it's as if my knack* has exploded into an obsession.

Of all things to be obsessed over - I'm obsessed with meal planning. You can unfriend/unfollow at will, I understand.

From discussions with others I've learned that many don't plan meals and most eat out or get take-out much more often than we do. Here's the thing - meal planning is easy and it doesn't take very long at all. It's also a good way to save money, watch what you eat, and reduce the amount of waste you produce in your kitchen from throwing out rotten food.

Here are some of the things that work for RB and I:

1. Google doc with favourite meals: we have a shared Google spreadsheet that lists all of our favourite meals. These are the ones that will always be in my arsenal and I can make again and again. Along with the meal there's a link to the website where I got the recipe or the cookbook it's from (and page number) and then there's a third column that shows the 'last eaten on' date. This is to avoid eating the same things too many times in a row.

This spreadsheet works for me because I have many recipes that I like to go back to but tend to forget about them (there are currently 14 meals listed). I add recipes to the spreadsheet when I remember old favourites or when I discover new ones. The upkeep is very minimal and because it's a Google doc, it's available everywhere.

Benefit: go-to list of meals when you lack inspiration, classics that you've made before and likely take less time as a result.

2. Google calendar showing what's for dinner: If there's one thing I'm more obsessed with than meal planning, it's Google Calendar. I have 10 active calendars. One of which is titled 'What's for Dinner?". On Sunday, or Monday, I take a look at my week and see what I want to make. Since I'm already looking at all the other events during the week I have a good picture of what meals work where. For example, when I should schedule leftovers, when take-out would be best, and when I have extra time.

Benefit: planning your week = saving money = reducing waste = eating better

3. Grocery list in my phone: This one is most important. In my notepad on my phone, I have a note titled 'Groceries'. It is always there and will never be deleted. It's pretty simple, I make my grocery list here. Since I always have my phone, I can add ketchup to the list if I think of it while I'm at the dentist. Nothing gets forgotten. I also try to minimize trips to the grocery store and prevent buying things I already have. I use two tricks with this list.
  1. If I think of something that I'm not sure if I have it or not, I put a question mark beside it so that I know before I leave for the store I should check the kitchen first. I make this list on Sunday or Monday when I'm planning my calendar.
  2. I always put quantities next to ingredients. If I need half a cup of cashews, it's cheaper to get it from the bulk section than buying the 4 cup tub. This way I don't end up with lots of extra ingredients I might not use very often. (Sorry cashews, you're just not on my active snack choices list.)

To keep my inspiration going I also do the following:

1. When I get a new cookbook, I grab a stack of post-its and flag every recipe that I might be interested in trying. That way, when I'm out of ideas, I can grab a book from the shelf and it's already been screened.

2. I bookmark online recipes all the time. My bookmarks list is massive. This is another method of screening recipes in times of low-inspiration. As an aside, I currently don't have a method for managing my online recipe bookmarks, please enlighten me!

So, that's all there is to it. All of these things are now habits for me so they take even less time. I don't tend to plan meals for Friday and Saturday as we likely have plans to go out or there are ample leftovers available. 5-days of planning is enough for me.

Do you plan your meals, what works for you?

*Every time I use the word 'knack' I thick of this Dilbert sketch.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Favourites ver. 6

In which I post fun and favourite things from my week, every Friday!

1. I started writing in a journal on January 1st and I have written every day. It's a great outlet and I'd like to think I'm sleeping better as a result.

2. TEDxWaterloo applications opened last week!!!! You should totally apply!!!! It's going to be a ridiculously awesome day. I'm the Catering Lead for the day and it's shaping up to include some very awesome food. Just do it.

3. For my birthday I got a card from RB that said 'we're going to New York City!'. Which is... pretty incredible. We're planning the trip for March. Yes, I know the weather is going to suck but it can't be any worse than the weather here so I'm just not even considering it. When I was in Palm Springs in November the weather was brutal but I still had a great experience. Let's hope the same for NYC.

4. I love pulled pork. Seriously. If you eat pork, you should be making it once a week. I got a 4 lb roast for $4 this week and it's going to feed us 4 meals. I make this recipe. When it comes to forcing my beliefs on people, let this be the one you actually consider.

5. I got asked to speak at a conference in the first week of February. When I said yes back in November I didn't have many details. It has since surfaced that I need to speak for 50 minutes. Fifty minutes. As Crosie would say 'that is ALL of the minutes'. All of them. I realize this is neither 'fun' for me nor a 'favourite'. Perhaps you'll find pleasure in my misery? Let's go with that.

6. This picture...

Way to go, Neville.

7. Last weekend RB and I had tickets to the Leafs vs. Wings game. It was close to perfection.
- I got to wear my Yzerman jersey
- We had GOLD CENTRE ICE seats (HUGE Thank you to RB's fam)
- A guy in the row above us chucked a squid on the ice
- That's all that needs to be said.

Warm up from our gold's

We are ancient rivals but we make it work.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2011 Book Review

I don't think I need to tell you how much I love reading. I also love sharing the books I read and then gushing over them. Let the gushing begin.

Books I read in 2011 (at least those that I can remember, in no particular order)
  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  3. Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins (I got the HG series for Christmas and read all three in 7 days. Loved them)
  4. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (it was meh)
  5. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (slightly better than meh)
  6. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (this was a re-read and I don't think I need to tell you how unbelievable it is... because I already did)
  7. Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz (non-fiction, slow but very interesting)
  8. A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron (cute and light but sad)
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (LOVED. IT. Like big time love)
  10. In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier (interesting story, relevant to my Manitoba heritage)
  11. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Good story, loved the different voices in the story)
  12. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (cute story)
  13. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (So Awesome, SO awesome)
  14. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (no words)
  15. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (not as awesome but still awesome)
  16. I Was Told There'd be Cake by Sloane Crosley (chick-lit, cute essays, easy light read)

I recommend: 1,2 & 3 because they are fun. 6 because it's my #1 of all time. 9 because it's brilliant and I want to name my future dog/cat/child Jem or Scout. 13 because it's perfect.

Overall impression: There's a reason some books remain popular for 50+ years. It's because they are awesome. I want to read more of them. I got 'Slaughterhouse Five' for Christmas, looking forward to that one. Kid's books are still king. I will read Young Adult fiction for as long as people are writing it.

For next year: More classic-types. Write down the month and year I start reading a book in the jacket. Generally keep better track of what I've read.

Thanks, Jen for the inspiration to share what I've been reading, to keep better track of it, and to realize I could be reading WAY more (44 books?? DAMN!).

Monday, January 02, 2012

Happy 2012!

Hello friends!! Happy 2012!!

How are you? How was your holiday?

I had a superb vacation. I was off work for 2 weeks and I spent it visiting much family and many friends. It was excellent. I spent most of my time with RB's family and I felt so welcome in their home. I've always felt that the Christmas morning rituals are quite intimate for a family and welcoming someone new can be difficult. RB's mom did an excellent job of making me feel like I was part of the family. I can't say enough about how awesome our time was at his family's home. Thanks, guys!

I celebrated my birthday in a new fashion - with my friends! We were at a restaurant in downtown Toronto and it was great to have everyone together, to see old friends, and to see my brother and his GF a second time.

This weekend I was feeling very energetic about the year new. I decided to write down a few resolutions and generally just start writing down all the crap that flies around my head. I think it's serendipitous that I found the notebook I got from Camp Mighty on January 1st, right when I was looking to starting writing shit down. I've flip-flopped on my opinions of New Years resolutions. I don't like the idea of setting goals that can be very particularly measured (ie: lose 15 pounds) but I do like the idea of simply writing down a list of items I want to work on so I can always reference it and keep myself on track.

So, without further ado, here's what I wrote last night:
  1. Reduce household garbage. This is ongoing. As two adults with no kids, I think we can be doing a better job of reducing what goes to the curb.
  2. Be more kind in all cases. I generally want to reduce the negative thoughts and negative things I say. I think if I start by saying this to myself before I enter new situations I'll be on the right track. I hope I will also make better impressions as a result.
  3. Reply to emails. I don't think I need to explain this.
  4. Wear more dresses and skirts. Because, uh duh, they are fun.
  5. Be thankful. I live an extraordinarily blessed life and I think it deserves more appreciation. I'd like to start by saying what I'm thankful for on a more regular basis than one night at Thanksgiving.

None of these are especially difficult and there isn't really a measure of failure for any of them. Really, I could have listed them at any time during the year but January is a good time to make lists.

Are you resolving anything this year? How do you feel starting a new year?