Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I was lucky enough to hear the heartbeat earlier this month, but now we were also given an advanced viewing of him/her/it, who was happily trampolining off my uterine wall. I could have watched it for hours if only the doctor would have allowed it.
But there were two things that really stood out to us:
1. He/she/it has a freakishly large head.
2. He/she/it has a spine that is oddly reptilian-like in appearance.
And all of this prompted my husband to dub the semi-ultrasound as "The Little Alien Movie".
I'm sure he meant for it to be endearing, I swear!
Monday, December 21, 2009
And, yes, I'm lovin' it. To the chagrin of some of my coworkers, I've tuned in to this station online while at work so that I can listen to the peaceful sounds of Christmas ALL DAY.
It helps calm me, yo. (And, for that, everyone around me should be thankful.)
But I do have one beef. That teeny-bopper-like song titled "Last Christmas".
Seriously, what is that?? It has nothing to do with Christmas or winter or snow..... or anything remotely related to the holiday season. It's merely a song about getting your heart broken, and it just happened to occur last Christmas. Bleh.
To make matters worse, there are THREE different versions being played on the radio these days, so I can't go more than an hour or so without hearing it.
I blame you for this, Wham.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
How can we be expected to survive this frigid Canadian winter without the Christmas carols and warmth that emanates from our favourite December channel??
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I’ve been pinching myself in disbelief for the last couple of years because I’d been blessed with a stable job that was 99% stress-free. And though I wasn’t getting rich quick, I was perfectly content with my work. How many people can say the same about their current positions?
Well that all changed in late October when I was offered a temporary promotion filling in for a coworker that was retiring. In a nutshell, I’m to work this new job until it’s officially posted, at which time I can either apply for permanency, or I can go back to my stress-free bliss.
Oh, the dilemma!
It’s interesting to note that, on the same day that I was offered this position, I also received a phone call from the bank saying we were approved for a mortgage.
Mortgage… baby... unknown future. Did I have any alternative but to accept the temporary promotion??
I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and it’s no coincidence that I was promoted mere hours after hearing from the bank about the mortgage. It was an opportunity for advancement at work, so of course I accepted.
But this new position is far from stress-free.
To go from working independently at my own pace to working within a huge network of colleagues and having to supervise a few has been quite the adjustment. I had gotten so use to doing my own thing that I’d forgotten what it was like to be stressed at work.
But as the weeks pass and I become increasingly comfortable in this new position, I’m discovering that I do actually have time to eat lunch again and take washroom breaks. (Who knew what a luxury that could sometimes be??)
So I am settling in – finally – but it’s just too bad that I had to kiss my hopes for a stress-free pregnancy goodbye.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Could it be that…
a) I relocated to gay Paris and gave up all forms of modern communication in an effort to “find myself”, or
b) I once again fell and broke my wrist, thus rendering me virtually helpless and incapable of efficiently using a keyboard, or
c) I’m pregnant and have been confined to the couch in a near-catatonic state, leading me to believe that this kid is already out to get me, or
d) All of the above.
While “all of the above” would make for a more interesting blog post, the actual answer is C. I’m just pregnant. Fourteen weeks pregnant, to be exact.
And while most women on TV and in magazines have that delightful glow about them when they are in the family way, I, on the other hand, have had that holy-crap-I’ve-never-been-so-exhausted-and-nauseous-for-three-months-straight sort of look to me.
Seriously, peeps. There was no glow. That’s just a lie that non-pregnant people tell women in their first trimester in an effort to keep them from turning into complete emotional wrecks.
But I’ve successfully endured the dreaded first trimester and am actually feeling well enough to stay awake in the evenings after dinner. Yes! It’s true! The intense exhaustion is subsiding, and I can now sit down to eat AND keep my eyes open for an additional three hours before my actual bedtime.
The times, they are a changin’.
But I’m still convinced this kid is out to get me.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Shortly after I graduated from University, I spent a couple of seasons working as a naturalist / interpreter at the Devonian Botanic Garden, where I took school children on nature hikes for the day. And while each of us interpreters had our own way of celebrating for having survived all the young'uns we were responsible for, one of the most sought-after treats was a well-deserved ice cream cone from the facility concession each Friday afternoon.
Yes, food really is love. Ahem.
One particular Friday especially stands out in my memory: There we were. Sweating. Exhausted. Relieved the week was over. A hush came over all interpreters as we
gorged ourselves delicately ate our treats in the hot sun, savouring every morsel.
But one interpreter, who was late returning with her group and therefore late in joining us in the ice cream fest, hurriedly attempted to catch up with the rest of us by aggressively attacking her cone. One big lick and -- *PLOP* -- her ice cream toppled over and plummeted to the ground.
Naturally, we all panicked.
"Ten second rule! It's still good! IT'S STILL GOOD!!"
"If you won't eat it, then I will!"
"For the love of God -- PICK IT UP!!!"
So of course she picked it up -- what else could she do at that point? -- shoved it back on the cone, and licked the melted remnants off her hand... in addition to everything else that came back to the cone with the fallen ice cream. And, yeah, even with gravel and now-frozen bugs in it, she still declared it to be the best ice cream she'd ever had, haha. You understand.
Everyone has a story like this... and everyone naturally tries to OUT DO a story like this.
My husband, for example, often scoffs at the Ten Second Rule.
"Ten seconds? Ha. In the army we had the Three Day Rule. It was, like, ' Dude, I remember seeing the guy who DROPPED that! ' "
But for those of you who prefer your food to be fresh and not full of gravel or radio-active soil, then check out StillTasty.com, which offers guidelines on whether or not you should still consume the four-day-old salad that was left festering in your fridge.
So good luck and happy eating!
* Special thanks to Divulge With Dani, who passed along this gem of a website!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sadly, I'm not that generous, lol.
But I am going to let you all in on this terrific raffle being jointly run by the Alberta Conservation Association and Sherwood Park Toyota in which you could win a 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid!!
A maximum of 5,000 tickets have been printed, which means that if you buy just one, you have a 1 / 5,000 chance of winning -- not bad odds when you compare it to the millions of people we compete with each time we purchase a regular lottery ticket.
~ Each ticket is only $25.00 each.
~ Estimated prize value is $34,000.
~ Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Golden Ranches, which is an area 27km east of Edmonton that spans just over 1,500 acres. (It is our hope that this area can be purchased and protected for conservation purposes.)
~ The draw will take place on December 5, 2009 at Sherwood Park Toyota.
~ This contest is only open to Alberta residents over the age of 18.
I'm in no way associated to either the Alberta Conservation Association or Sherwood Park Toyota, but I believe in this cause and would love nothing more than to bring awareness to Alberta's conservation needs.
Thank you so much to everyone who contributes to this endeavour.... and good luck in the raffle!!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Notice that he's also wearing his Clean Team Captain t-shirt in this shot.
(Seriously, folks, I couldn't have planned this if I tried.)
Here's my husband below, interjecting himself into a shot with Corb and his bassist. Notice how it's oddly reminiscent of the scene-stealing squirrel photo taken by tourists this past summer.
But for those who are only here to see Corb Lund in his smiling glory, here he is:
Friday, September 18, 2009
Regardless of how old he gets or how much his appearance
deteriorates changes over the years, I will always see him as the likeable Price Is Right host who happily reminds us to help control the pet population by having our pets spayed or neutered.
Having said that, though, I can't say I agree with his recent plight to have Lucy, the Asian elephant at our local Valley Zoo, relocated to an elephant sanctuary in the U.S.
Barker was in town yesterday to meet Lucy and to plee for her transfer, and although I know he means well, he is, quite frankly, wrong in this situation.
As a Wildlife Biology grad, I spent several years volunteering at theValley Zoo where I got to know Lucy and many of the keepers while working on the elephant shift.
Put simply, Lucy is magnificent.
She is a gentle soul who is far more intelligent than any of us can comprehend. And she appears to believe she's human. The keepers are her family, and they care for her as though she is their child. They are inseparable.
In a perfect world, Lucy would never have been orphaned at a young age. She never would have been brought to Canada to live out her time in a less-than-adequate facility. And she never would have been separated from other elephants for such long periods.
But she was brought here during a different time, and we can't change what's already taken place. And while Barker argues that we should finally do right by her and have her transferred, he seems ignorant to the fact that the move would more than likely kill her.
Veterinarians have examined Lucy and are in agreement that the stress of a move like that would lead to her demise. She has some serious health issues that are currently under control, and although the circumstances under which she lives here are less than ideal, she is unmistakably content.
Lucy gives hugs and "purrs" while quietly being held in an embrace by her keepers. She takes lengthy walks each day and freely explores the trails and vegetation on the west side of the Valley Zoo property, away from the public eye. And she playfully turns the water hose on her keepers -- or in my case her
slave volunteer keeper -- when we attempt to give her a bath.
There is so much care and interaction occurring behind the scenes with Lucy, and it's impossible for outsiders to appreciate the bond she's developed with the staff of the Valley Zoo. They are her companions, and to separate them by moving her to a new facility would undoubtedly endanger her life.
I realize that Barker and other protesters only want what they feel is best for Lucy, but they've failed to realize that what's best is for her to remain with her family at the Valley Zoo.
As a volunteer at the Valley Zoo, I was fortunate enough to witness Lucy painting some of her sought-after portraits. The above is the scanned image of a Christmas card that was given to me one year by the elephant shift staff, and it features a reprint of "Ode To Joy", one of Lucy's many pieces of work.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
And it has to do with littering.
Specifically, my relative littered in the street and was given a warning about this by a police officer. And then she proceeded to laugh about it and post as much on Facebook. And so did her friend when commenting on the initial post.
Now I know what you're thinking: It's just littering, right? Don't police officers have more important issues to, well, police?
Frankly, that's missing the point.
The real issue at hand is that littering is a disgusting, egocentric act that harms EVERYONE. The trash that you dump from your car may supposedly be out of sight and out of mind for you, but it's more than just unsightly for the rest of us. It weasels its way into the ecosystem and wreaks havoc on food chains that inevitably work their way back into harming us.
There are no coincidences. Everything is connected. And if you think that simply tossing that cigarette butt out the window of your car isn't doing any harm, then you're tremendously naive and undereducated in terms of ecological developments. (Either that, or you just don't care.) *shudder*
I earned my degree in Wildlife Biology through a lot of hard work that involved many years of extensive scientific research, and it is frustrating to have people around me who are too self-absorbed to see the big picture and the end result of their actions.
But you know what? Even if you didn't graduate magna cum laude from an accredited biological sciences program, you should have figured out in playschool that littering is wrong.
Don't lick the glue.
Don't run with scissors in your mouth.
And don't litter.
Science aside, to be surrounded by masses of trash is just gross. And if you're throwing garbage out your window because you don't want to have it in your car, what makes you think the rest of us are okay with wallowing in your crap??
There are garbage cans and bins EVERYWHERE and so there's no justification for you to simply toss things out the window. End of discussion.
And, frankly, that's just laziness on your part.
The City of Edmonton finally acknowledged as much several years ago by launching the Capital City Clean Up program, which recruits ordinary citizens to pick up litter and report graffiti in their neighbourhoods. I'm proud to say that my husband has volunteered as a Clean Team Captain ever since the program's inception.
In donning the gloves and patrolling our neighbourhood with garbage bags in hand, we've seen (and smelled) other people's trash first hand. And you know what the worst part of that has been?
The cigarette butts.
They're everywhere. They smell bad. And they're a pain in the ass -- and extrememly time-consuming -- to pick up after the fact. Honestly, why do smokers think it's okay to use the world as their mobile ashtray??
(Of course, nevermind the fact that cigarette butts pollute groundwater reserves and are eaten by aquatic species who mistakenly think they're a food source. Like I said, science aside, they're also just really gross.)
The other challenge has been in collecting garbage that's been scattered by wildlife and neighbourhood pets. Although this form of littering isn't intentional, we always cringe when we approach a home that doesn't use covered garbage cans but instead just sets their garbage bags out for collection.
Because, inevitably, an animal always comes along and rips it open, spreading its contents throughout our back alley.
Nothng turns your stomach like having to re-garbage another family's used diapers or food containers after their bags have been ripped open and scattered. (Except for maybe picking up their cigarette butts too. Both are equally deplorable.)
In reflecting back on my initial rant about the relative and her friend who littered, it's not even the littering part that upsets me the most. Rather, it's the fact that they continued to laugh about it after having received warnings from police officers.
Now you know what? I'm no more or less perfect than anyone else, and I'll openly admit that I've done things I knew were wrong. So, in that regard, I'm in no position to judge.
But the difference between us is that I've been remorseful and have tried to correct the areas in which I need work. And if it came to a point where an officer of the law had to give me a warning, I would be mortified. I mean, how humiliating is that??
So for them to have gone through all that and STILL not have figured out that what they did was wrong... well, like I said before, there's just no excuse.
For a brief look at the bigger picture, watch this clip. And be prepared to make a difference by volunteering to pick up litter in your own neighbourhood. It has to start somewhere, and I've seen through my husband that one person really can make a dent in this problem, not just in picking up litter but in leading by example.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Everything happens for a reason, right?
But what really bothers me is that the coverage of this date seems to be waning with each anniversary.
While I don't want there to be an overwhelming amount of hoopla (read: ticker-tape parades and the like), I do think it's important that we continue to acknowledge the events from that day with simple gestures.
Moments of silence. Musical tributes on the radio. Poignant editorials in newspapers and magazines.
Sure, these things do still occur, but I get the sense that this is just another day for many of the people I'm interacting with today.
Maybe it's that they're desenstized to the images from 2001. Maybe it's that they just have too much going on in their own lives now to even realize what today's date is. Or maybe it's that they're so far removed from the events of that day that they just don't care.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Anyway, that's just an observation on my part. Obviously things are different south of the border where today is officially known as Patriot Day, and there have been numerous events comemmorating the attacks from 2001.
Family members of those lost on United Airlines Flight 93 were in attendance last night as guests of the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team. Tonight the New York Yankees will also host a pre-game tribute at Yankee Stadium. And of course there are numerous events taking place at each of the attack sites today.
This YouTube video was constructed by a private citizen for last year's anniversary, and although the images are difficult to watch at times, I feel it's necessary. We must never forget.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Regardless, she's beautiful, and her photo should be shared and appreciated.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Instead, I'd like to briefly focus on one sports organization that finally did things right this year in terms of public relations: the Edmonton Capitals of the Golden Baseball League.
We attended two of their games this summer, and the only real disappointing thing for us from each outing was the final score. But aside from that, we couldn't have asked for a for a more enjoyable sporting event.
Here he is pretending to slide into second. (Pay no attention to the fact that he was the only adult running the bases and that he probably displaced a couple of kids in order to achieve this too-much-fun-for-one-night photo opportunity. Ahem.)
We also brought along some lawn chairs, blankets, and our Snuggies that night so that we could huddle on the field and watch a baseball-themed film (The Sandlot) while eating free popcorn after the game. What could be cooler than that??
(Speaking of cool, notice the woman I photographed above. Yes, it was a July evening, and yes, it was necessary to be wearing a parka that night. You know, to help keep the 'skeeters away yo.)
The second game we attended saw me lovingly get accosted by Louie, the mascot of the Edmonton Oil Kings, who also happened to be on hand entertaining the adoring crowd that evening.
For Danielle's take on baseball this season, check out her ramblings at Divulge with Dani. I promise they'll make you chuckle. And wish that you had taken in at least one game with us this season.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
- Sir Winston Churchill
I've held my tongue for long enough, but I can't take it anymore.
I do consider myself an avid sports fan, but my respect for pro athletes has exponentially dwindled in the last decade.
And it has everything to do with the constant off-season bickering surrounding their contract negotiations.
As if the un-Godly amount of money they're getting paid to just play a game isn't enough, it's become increasingly common for players to now make demands about the team / city in which they play.
I guess this isn't exactly something new to pro sports, but this summer's Dany Heatley saga in the NHL has really grown tiresome. He recently held a press conference explaining why he no longer wants to play pro hockey for the Ottawa Senators (and, subsequently, the Edmonton Oilers), and he essentially said that he was only doing what was best for his career.
Imagine if a soldier all of a sudden stated to his superior that he didn't feel a deployment to Afghanistan would further his career and that he instead felt a year in Grand Cayman might do him more good. Do you think that would go over well?
Of course not. Because, unlike pro athletes, we all live in the real world and just do as we're told by our superiors.
Now we all know this was a cop-out response by Heatley at the press conference and that he was only stating what his handlers (read: sports agents) advised him to say, but come on. Did they honestly think this excuse would be sufficient? Couldn't they have come up with something better than that?
All Heatley's statements have done is cause me to become increasingly hostile toward pro athletes and their petty demands.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
- Louis L'Amour
During my husband’s first full summer in Alberta, I was adamant about taking him camping in the Canadian Badlands. He, on the other hand, wasn’t so keen on the idea.
(That’s my husband above, basking in Alberta’s desert-like setting. Take note that no one is shooting at him.)
(Can you see my husband? Look way down at the bottom, just before the date stamp.)
Plus, I even befriended a firefighter from Rosebud prior to stopping for lunch at WHIFS, the cutest little roadside diner. Score!
But my favourite of all these sites was by far Horse Thief Canyon.
(If only our photos actually did some justice to this site!)
The top portion of the sign in the photo above reads as follows:
“This area of the Red Deer River valley earned its name during the early settler years when ranching was the main industry. Thousands of horses ranged from here to beyond the “Hand Hills” to the east. Legend has it that horses would disappear into these canyons of the Red Deer River valley, later to reappear carrying a different brand. Hence the name 'Horse Thief Canyon'.”
It sounds like it came straight out of a Louis L’Amour novel. I love it.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I first discovered the following recipe when reading Trigiani's Milk Glass Moon, and it was the out-of-the-ordinary main ingredient that really intrigued me.
But Trigiani's from the South, yo. So would you expect anything less than sinful??
August 27 - CHOCOLATE COCA-COLA CAKE
2 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup Coca-Cola
2 sticks butter
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
1 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
For cake: Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a saucepan, combine & heat butter, cocoa, Coca-Cola and marshmallows until it begins to boil (add marshmallows last)…remove from heat & stir to dissolve marshmallows. Pour over sugar & flour and blend well…add remaining cake ingredients and blend well. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
For icing: Combine butter, cocoa & Coca-Cola in saucepan and bring to a boil... mix with powdered sugar till it makes a thin paste, then drizzle over the cake while it’s hot from the oven.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I wish I could claim that my husband was referring to the location where my car might have broken down, but no. It was me. Crying -- in front of God and everyone -- at a very crowded bridal store two days prior to our wedding.
In defense of that establishment, they really had very little to do with my tears. But unfortunately for them, they just happened to be one of the last stops for me that day, during what had been an extremely stressful
In those final days, it took very, very little to make me cry. And as one of the sales associates remarked as she tried to cheer me up with the offer of a free margarita drink,
“Aw, weddings are stressful, I know.”
My husband and I are often asked if we would do anything differently if we had to do it all over again. And we just thoughtfully look at each other and proclaim, “If we had to do it all again….. we just wouldn't.”
And then we laugh and put everyone back at ease by saying that of course we would do it all again, but we just wish we had known then what we know now. (Doesn’t everyone??)
Throughout the ordeal that was our two-year-long engagement, I quickly discovered that there are a lot of outdated and impractical wedding guides floating around our library system. (Who still gets a blood test done before they get married? Anyone?)
And there was also next to nothing out there that could advise me on local (read: north of the 49th) establishments for everything from where to get my make-up done to where we could buy booze.
You know, the important stuff.
So after having pilfered ideas from everyone willing to tolerate my incessant questioning, I finally assembled the be-all-and-end-all of wedding organizers, which became my Bridal Bible, so to speak.
And, to this, my husband insightfully suggested that I should turn it into a book and use it to make us millions on which to retire help other brides in need.
Brilliant! Yes! I will write a book! It will be glorious, and I will do it now!
Fast forward two years and – you guessed it – I have yet to put pen to paper. (Or to make us millionaires. Not that the two are related.)
I’m fairly certain that my Native name would translate to something along the lines of Queen of Unfinished Projects. I start things. I get bored with things. I move on to new things.
But this book just won’t go away. It seems that every time a friend or family member has tied the knot in the last two years since our wedding (which would be a whopping total of 10 times), that spark is rekindled.
Just this past weekend, our friends Bonnie & Chris were married, and Bonnie graciously offered her wedding checklist to anyone who might use it in the near future. Naturally, I asked for a copy so that I could potentially use it as research for my book. To which she asked about the theme of my book and in what ways it would be set apart from other such books on the market.
You mean, I actually require a hard-and-fast plan for how I’m going to pull off this endeavor? And then I have to follow through with it?
It’s like she doesn’t even know me at all.
But now it’s out there. I’ve told people about what I want to do, so there's no turning back now. I have to do it. Or at least attempt it.
Because there are few things worse than having a great idea about something but then being too lazy -- that’s right, I said it -- to make that dream a reality.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
“Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”
As we approached the START line at this morning’s Intact Edmonton Marathon Weekend’s 5km Fun Run, the event emcee announced to all athletes that the race was set to begin in a few minutes.
My friend Meena and I laughed at the fact that we had been propelled to the title of athlete, simply for having signed up for the 5km Fun Run.
And my husband even commented that Meena and I were probably more accustomed to being labeled as “math-letes” since we both lean more towards being nerdy rather than athletic.
And, yet, we were still able to finish the race with a new personal best time and smiles on our faces.
Friday, August 14, 2009
But it didn't quite play out the way I had hoped.
I had pegged today as the day I would reach my next 5 lbs.-lost milestone, but alas I was 1 lb. short. Doh!
Worse yet, it seems like I've gained and lost and gained that same pound a couple times this week, which has caused this angry little voice in the back of my mind to constantly holler at me:
"Already at a plateau?! OMG, you're never going to lose anymore weight! PLATEAUUUUU!!!!!!!"
I suddenly find myself cursing last night's partially-consumed Dairy Queen Blizzard. (But it was Miracle Treat Day at DQ! I was only eating that Blizzard for the children!)
It's funny, but Junior had it absolutely right in this recent Juice With Junior post where he very accurately stated that women claim to gain weight:
So here's to next Friday, where I will once again aim to not only reach but surpass that next 5 lbs.-lost milestone.
I'm confident I can do it, too. Because, after all, Miracle Treat Day comes but once a year, and that ship has (mercifully) sailed.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
If you were to dig deep and check out my November 2, 2008 entry, you might be wondering about the current status of my friend Angie.
It's with great sadness and disbelief that I have to report Angie passed away on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 4th.
A recent post by a friend on Angie's Facebook wall stated this:
...The last time I spoke to you it was probably just a quick "hi" but what I meant to say was "you're amazing, and I'm glad I got to know you"....
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
[insert dramatic pause]
My husband: "Hey, babe?"
My husband: "Are you having an affair?"
And so it began.....
Thankfully, my husband asked me this with a smile on his face so I knew he was only messing with me.
But if the stats I recently uncovered are even remotely true, there are quite a few married men and women who do have reason to be suspicious:
- 22% of married men and 14% of married women have strayed at least once during their married lives
- 70% of married women and 54% of married men did not know of their spouses' extramarital activity
- 90% of Americans believe adultery is morally wrong
And whether you sympathize with her or want to hold her personally responsible for the disintegration of your own marriage, you have to applaud Chatelaine for being forward enough to even run a piece such as this. It's an interesting read, so check it out.
My husband: "So, what you're saying is that you're actually sleeping with someone from the Geek Squad who's going to fabricate a fancy certificate for you. Am I right?"
Me: [... madly blinking at him...] "Okay. You got me. Well done."
And so it continues.....
Friday, July 24, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
But that tends to be the norm for all seasons we enjoy, doesn't it? The things in life we hate (read: winter) seemingly last forever... but summer? Summer is fleeting.
Since we live in an if-you-blink-you'll-miss-summer sort of environment, my husband and I do our best to accomplish as much as we can outdoors during these two short months because we know it will be a long haul before many of these opportunities return.
And one such sunshine-filled activity that we enjoy is canoeing.
Although our garage is far too jam packed for us to store our own personal canoes, we are lucky enough to participate in this activity each year thanks to Canoeheads.
For a mere $85, we can enjoy an early-morning shuttle to Devon and the use of their canoe and supplies for a laid-back voyage down the North Saskatchewan River. The only items we bring along are food and blankets for a mid-way picnic and, of course, my ever-present camera.
Now about those mid-way picnics.......
Be warned, though: this trek from Devon to Laurier Park in Edmonton can take as much or as little time to complete as you allow for.
As in, if you pop an aspirin before heading out and decide to paddle continuously without stopping, then you'll make it to the Laurier boat launch in approximately four hours. But if you're like us and prefer to stop for lunch and/or do some sightseeing amid the relaxed pace of your paddling, then the trip can take up to six hours to complete.
Either way, bring your sunscreen and bug repellant and plenty of drinking water.
Because, even though you're never far from civilization, there is no Mega Wal-Mart along the river! (Thankfully.)
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I once had an old boyfriend tell me that he thought of me whenever he heard a Sugarland tune on the radio.
This, of course, is one of the coolest compliments anyone could ever give me.
But it's interesting, too, because there are countless songs / artists that might remind me of him.... and yet I would never place Sugarland among them. Don't get me wrong -- I do love Sugarland to the point where it could almost be classified as an unhealthy obsession, but I just don't associate him with their music.
Yet, because of a brief conversation we had one time about the song Baby Girl, he continued to relate them to me.
I guess that's what makes music so powerful, though, in that the same song can trigger so many different memories and feelings -- both good and bad -- in virtually anyone willing to listen. Like Clint Black sang, "... a melody can bring back the memory."
And witnessing Taylor Swift perform live as one of Kenny Chesney's opening acts last week only served to reaffirm how much I enjoy her first hit, Tim McGraw.
That, plus Trisha Yearwood's The Song Remembers When are two songs I wish I had written, simply because they describe this sensation so perfectly.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Having spent a year stationed in
Up until now, that is.
Gamelan Grill has been located in
But believe me, we will definitely be back! (Maybe even later today… ahem.)
The menu is not only loaded with Korean dishes but also with Filipino, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, and Chinese fare, and we actually had a difficult time narrowing down exactly what we wanted to order. This was a welcome problem to have, though, as all of the food we sampled was outstanding.
Moreover, what really impressed me about the Gamelan Grill was the atmosphere inside the eatery.
The décor is beautiful, and -- even though we only stopped by to order some takeout -- the hostess cheerfully welcomed us in and encouraged us to walk around and check out the open kitchen and the washrooms, all of which were spotless.
She also took great pride in explaining some of their many environmentally-sound practices, something for which they deserve to be applauded.
You will not find any Styrofoam plates or plastic utensils in this eatery, but you will have the opportunity to eat your meal with utensils made of bamboo.
And those paper bags with the plastic window? That window is actually made of natural corn byproducts.
So while many other restaurants cut corners and choose to use more affordable supplies (plastics and Styrofoam), the management at Gamelan Grill insists on using only the best of what’s available, for both the environment and for our health. And they do this while managing to keep their menu prices down to some very reasonable rates.
Plus, for those of us who are health-conscious and leery of what cooking supplements are used when we eat out, Gamelan Grill boasts that they cook with only fresh ingredients and without the addition of MSG or any Trans fat cooking oils.
And, with the availability of six different Celiac-friendly dishes, this also means my mother-in-law will finally be able to eat with us worry-free the next time she visits from upstate
Gamelan Grill is a very welcome new addition to our neighbourhood!
8712 150 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T5R 1E4
(780) GRILL98 / (780) 474-5598
Summer hours: Mon-Sun 11am - 9pm / Winter hours: Mon-Sat 11am - 8pm
Friday, July 10, 2009
Even though I’ve only been to 23 of the 50
Parasailing in the
Flew in a helicopter over the
Ridden in a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of
Observed an alligator in its natural habitat in the
But according to Time.com, I’m just another ordinary fanny-pack-wearing traveler.
So as an alternate to many of the touristy sites we often gravitate towards, Reed Tucker offers some lesser-known and off-the-beaten-path excursions in 50 Authentic American Experiences.
That’s right, peeps. There’s one suggestion for each of the 50 states, so start checkin’ them off as you go. Just think of it as the Great American Road Trip, minus all the quirky challenges and the already-paid-for RV.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
And one of those factors is something that I've been complaining about for years. Put simply, good-for-you-foods cost more than their nutrition-less and fattening counterparts.
A large bag of fresh snap peas will set you back about $10.00.
But a large bag of potato chips? This can be all yours for a mere $2.99!
Now I'm well aware that we end up spending far more money when trying to lose weight that's been gained -- not to mention all the associated health-care costs and new-wardrobe expenses -- but when you're poor and trying to grocery shop on a budget, the here-and-now expenses often become the primary focus.
And speaking of weightloss, the not-so-great facial hair / weightloss challenge isn't going very well so far -- at least not for me, anyway -- which is why I'm considering signing up for Weight Watchers again.
As much as I hate it -- ("What? You mean I've been consuming enough food to sustain a 600-lb adult male gorilla? And now you expect me to cut back?!?") -- I know the program really does work for me.
That's why I went off it nearly two years ago. * Snort *
But in quitting the program, I also quit measuring my portions, and this resulted in the inevitable weight gain I've experienced since my wedding. So even though I'm more than familiar with the program, I'm going to dish out the dough once again and have others reiterate to me what I already know but won't adhere to on my own.
It seems I need to face the fear and humiliation of being weighed-in every week in order to feel motivated enough to stick with the program. Sad, yes?
But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I'm prepared to commit to this once again. I have to.
Now if only fresh fruits / vegetables and lean meats could be more affordable (on the surface) than a couple of fast-food meals.....
Saturday, July 4, 2009
And for once we hit the jackpot [...insert drumroll...] as the newest addition to the McGowan House of Clutter are a pair of beautiful Adirondack chairs that we purchased for the low, low price of $4.00 each!
The only real problem, however, was in getting them home.
I'm certain that we are the only Albertans left who don't own a pick-up truck, and there was no way I could fit even one of these chairs in my car for transport, so we naturally did the next best thing: We recruited
Understandably, she wasn't thrilled at first, but really, what better way to spend the Fourth of July?
Handcrafted Adirondack chairs.
Walking under blue, clear skies.
And cursing out your friend as she repeatedly insists, "We'll laugh about this later, I'm sure!".
Heh, I'm only kidding about that last part, of course. Dani was a terrific sport and -- thankfully -- found great humour in this mini adventure.
Friday, July 3, 2009
The problem this time around, though, is that what has worked for me in the past is now somehow failing me.
Could it be that I'm aging and my metabolism has slowed down even more to the point where it's almost non-existant? Or is it just that I've lost all motivation and I'm just not trying hard enough to get in shape anymore? Truth be known, it's probably both. I'm definitely older. And I can't deny that I was far more dedicated before I got married and, ahem, let myself go (again).
So in an effort to support this on-going battle, my husband decided to up the ante a little bit and offer me an out-of-the-ordinary motivator to lose weight.
His facial hair.
Frankly, I hate it. Not just on him, but on 99% of men. His challenge is as such: Knowing how much I frown upon facial hair, my husband is not going to shave until I've lost 15 lbs. Now if that's not motivation enough for me to sweat off the fat, then nothing else will work. But my argument is this: It could take me months to lose 15 lbs, but he'll be ugly in just a week. (Because of all the facial hair, yo.)
Thankfully, my husband is a reasonable individual and conceded as much. The end result? He will only shave every time I hit the 5-lbs-lost mark. And, no, that doesn't mean I'm allowed to lose and regain and lose and regain the same 5 lbs over and over again. Because as we already know, no good can come of that.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Not wanting to waste even a moment of our short summer, we've been taking advantage of this prime location by frequenting a nearby park several times a week. And it's been great, except for a couple of things....
And number two.... not once but twice this week my husband and I have stumbled upon a vacant picnic site in which the campfire remained lit and unattended.
Which is exactly how long it could take for these unattended fires to burn out of control in our bone-dry climate.
Looks like it's time to bring back those old Smokey the Bear ads with the hopes of raising awareness about how potentially dangerous an unattended fire can really be.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
To put it mildly, he's become Canada's non-smoking-but-smokin'-hot version of the Marlboro Man. (Oh, and he can really sing, too!)
Our lucky streak continued last night, as I recently won a contest put on by Empire Theatres and was fortunate enough to attend George's private show from his "The Sky's Not the Limit Tour".
The neatest part of the whole experience is that George has been using this tour to meet families across Canada and talk to them about an insulin pump used to treat Type 1 Diabetes, something he has lived with since his early teens.
Tickets weren't available for purchase to this show; it was strictly a free performance for people living with diabetes (and, of course, lucky contest winners like us!), so there was really no monetary profit to be made by George himself.
No high-priced concert seats and no overpriced t-shirts and souvenirs. And the proceeds from all items that were available for purchase went entirely into the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada.
(As my husband repeatedly asked last night, would Kenny Chesney ever do something like this??)
But I did put my arm around him for the photo.... does that count for anything??
To his credit, George was incredibly gracious and polite and -- as my husband pointed out -- so very real.
It's funny, but I think my husband now has a little bit of a man-crush on George Canyon, haha.
Maybe he'll now be more open to naming one of our yet-to-be-conceived daughters Georgia. (Seriously, that's one name-battle that I've been losing for years....).
Friday, June 26, 2009
And for the second time in less than a year, my husband sent in a recipe that was selected as the must-try meal of the day. Whoot!
Below are each of his winning submissions......
June 26, 2009 - BANANA CAKE WITH PEANUT BUTTER ICING
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. mashed very ripe bananas
1 c. buttermilk, room temperature
2/3 c. shortening, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. chunky peanut butter
- Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In separate bowl, combine bananas and buttermilk. Set aside.
- Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs. Beat in vanilla alternately.
- Add flour and banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
- Spread in greased and floured 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool and frost. Serves 20.
October 31, 2008 - Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Crust (originally from a Reader's Digest magazine)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 rib of celery, sliced
2 lbs lean ground chicken, beef, or lamb
1 cup chicken or beef stock
1 tin (796ml) plum tomatoes, pureed with juices
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
dash of Tabasco
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
salt and pepper to taste
Sweet Potato Topping:
2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tbsp orange or apple juice
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp butter (optional)
1 tsp salt (or more!) to taste
1 tsp paprika
- Cook sweet potatoes in a large pot of boiling water for 15-20 minutes or until very tender. Drain well, then mash with orange or apple juice, honey, and butter. Add salt and pepper. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, deep skillet and add onions and garlic. Cook 5 minutes until tender and fragrant. Add carrot and celery and cook a few more minutes until tender.
- Add ground meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook well, and then add stock, tomatoes, Worchestershire, and Tabasco for 20 minutes until thick.
- Remove from heat, and add peas, corn, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Spread meat mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread sweet potato mixture on top. Dust top with paprika.
- Place pan on a larger baking dish (to catch any spills) and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until brown and bubbling.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
It offered a behind-the-scenes and outside-the-wire look at a Canadian Armed Forces deployment in
For example, following one soldier’s death, another soldier volunteered for escort duty and later described how he recalled the sound of the melted ice moving in the casket each time their vehicle came to a start or a stop.
I don’t know why, but this detail fascinated me.
It makes perfect sense that the bodies would be packed with bags of ice before their long trip home from overseas, but it never occurred to me that the ice would melt along the way. Or that it could be heard with every turn of the hearse.
Such a small detail, and yet it’s interesting that this is one of the things the escort remembered from his service.
HBO recently released Taking Chance, which is based on the real-life events of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, a marine who volunteered to escort home the remains of Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps after he was KIA in
From the ramp ceremony overseas to the preparation of the body at Dover Air Force Base, it is a sombre and deeply moving account of the entire process required to bring these soldiers home.
Like with Fifteen Days, the scenes in Taking Chance reveal details that many of us would ordinarily never actualize, but that’s precisely what makes this film so special. It makes us aware of how real death is and of how many people have to face it each time another soldier is lost.
In researching this topic, I stumbled upon a blog entry by a Vietnam war veteran who also volunteered for escort duty. His account is no less interesting, and it’s certainly worth the read: http://donmadden.blogspot.com/2009/05/remembering.html
Saturday, June 20, 2009
My childhood friend Juliana is married to a U.S. Marine and currently lives in North Carolina, but she manages to come home a couple times a year. With her husband currently on a year-long deployment and not scheduled to return until January, she's been juggling a business and two kids on her own -- until now, that is.
Friday, June 19, 2009
The above title is a play on Dr. Gordon Livingston's acclaimed self-help book, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now.
Although I haven't yet read this piece in its entirety, it strikes me as offering several common sense pieces of advice that are so simple and yet seem to evade so many of us.
I know that we all have regrets and wish that we could turn back time for a do-over of certain events, but of course that just isn't possible.
Naturally, this saddens me. I do believe that life is a test in which we're forced to continually learn new things thoughout the journey, but it just doesn't seem fair sometimes.
If only we could have been born knowing some of the lessons we do know now.... because sometimes, for some people, now is just too late.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
In true pick-up-baseball fashion, many of the song lyrics rhymed with our names. (Example: “Garry, Garry, he’s so hairy…”)
Naturally, the song she made up for me went a little something like this: “Let’s go, Jo, the hefty ho!”
As in, “Let’s go, Jo, the HAPPY ho!”