Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An affair to avoid?

Me: "I have a class I'm taking for work, so you won't be able to reach me all day tomorrow."

[insert dramatic pause]

My husband: "Hey, babe?"
Me: "Yeah?"
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
Oh, and for the record:
  • 90% of Americans believe adultery is morally wrong

Chatelaine magazine's July 2009 edition featured this first-person account from a woman who intentionally strayed from her marriage for a 6-month period.

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.


Me: "Actually, my dear, I'll get a certificate at the end of my class.... so that should be proof enough that I'm NOT having an affair."

[insert dramatic pause]

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

Facial hair begone!

I finally did it. The first 5 lbs. is gone, and that means my husband's facial hair has been irradicated. Until the next 5 lbs. disappears, that is.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I canoe. Canoe?

Although we're only half through July, I still feel as though this summer is quickly passing.

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.......

..... sometimes we've ended up caked in mud.....

..... but more often than not, we've been fortunate enough to find some dry land that's helped us to enjoy the peaceful solitude along the river.

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

The song remembers when

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

Gamelan's grilling goodness

Having spent a year stationed in Korea, my husband often reminisces about how much he enjoyed their flavourful barbequed meats. And although we live in an area with many Asian eateries nearby, he has yet to find a restaurant that really meets his high standards.

Up until now, that is.

Gamelan Grill has been located in Edmonton’s west end since late 2008, and I’m ashamed to say we only just visited it for the first time this month.

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 New York.

Gamelan Grill is a very welcome new addition to our neighbourhood!

Gamelan Grill
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

Exploring America's hidden gems

Even though I’ve only been to 23 of the 50 US states, I like to think I’ve seen and done a lot during my travels south of the 49th.

Parasailing in the Florida Keys? Check.

Flew in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon? Check.

Ridden in a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Savannah? Check.

Observed an alligator in its natural habitat in the Everglades? Check.

But according to, 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

Poor, fat south

If you visited today, you no doubt noticed one of their feature articles, Why Are Southerners So Fat?  in which the author examines four simple factors that contribute to the south's obesity epidemic.

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

Adirondack adventures

As has come to be part of our summer weekend ritual, my husband and I stopped by a nearby garage sale this morning with the intent of purchasing something we don't really need or have the room for finding some great bargain items.

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!

And as we were carrying away our purchase, one of the women who was conducting the garage sale nostalgically commented that her father had built the chairs himself.... and, for us, that just made them all the more special. This really was a terrific find.

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 to help us carry them back to the pad.

Understandably, she wasn't thrilled at first, but really, what better way to spend the Fourth of July?

Garage sales.

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 not-so-great-weightloss / facial-hair-challege of 2009

Ugh. I've struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember, and it seems like I've lost and re-gained the same 30 lbs at least once every couple of years since 2004. (So if you do the math, that's 90 lbs lost and 90 lbs gained for a net change of zero. So unfair.)  But I'm not giving up, and so here I am, once again on a mission to trim down my not-so-pleasant assets.

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

Hazard County

Even though we reside in a bustling metropolis the City of Edmonton, we're lucky enough to live mere minutes away from our River Valley park system.

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....
Number one.... the litter left behind by other park visitors is absolutely disheartening. Seriously, people, this is laaaaaame. Just pick up your crap and quit ruining it for the wildlife that has to live in your mess. (Seriously, it's like Over the Hedge out there some days.)

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.
On the first occasion, my husband and I had no water with us, but we still managed to extinguish the flames by smothering the fire with sand we collected from the ground. It wasn't rocket science, and it only took us a few minutes.

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.