Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas, Board Games and My Re-Love of Hot Yoga

It's been a busy couple of weeks around here so here is a late "Merry Christmas" and an early "Happy New Year" to everyone out there :)

I went to Vancouver on Christmas Eve to spend time with my sister, niece and brother-in-law who are living over there while my niece is getting her treatment at BC Children's hospital. Even though it was not the usual Christmas that our family is used to, it was still a wonderful visit and I am very happy that I got to see them and see my niece open her presents. Unfortunately I had to leave on Christmas day since I had to work Boxing day, but that was alright. It was worth it.

Like I said, I've been keeping busy which has been highly enjoyable! I have to take a couple courses next semester which means that I get to become a whining procrastinating student again, but I only have 4 courses left before I am done this program and then I am free! Free! Free!!! The past few months, living as only an employee and not a student has been great, so I am not looking forward to cracking open those textbooks and putting my nose to the grindstone again. But like I said. Just 4 more courses to go.

723 Yates Street
 Just in case you want to drop in.
Saturday night I was promised a "fun night" by a friend, and I was pleasantly surprised to end up in a new board-game cafe downtown. It's called Interactivity Board Game Cafe and it's a quirky little cafe which specializes in board games! When you walk into the cafe, there are hundreds of board games stacked upon the shelves for the board game shoppers of Victoria to purchase. As you move on through the cafe, there is the sales counter where you can buy food, snacks, beverages and literally a "bowl of candy" for your munching needs. Then past that, there are about a dozen large tables set up and roughly 600 games for your playing pleasure. Basically how it works is you pay a flat rate for each person ($5/person) and you have unlimited access to all of the board games for as long as you want. Whether it's a charming evening for a couple to have a date, or a place to bring all of your friends for a random game night, there's something for everyone at this place.

I think it is a pleasing business concept and I am very interested in how successful it becomes. It's only been open for about 2 months now and after talking to one of the employees, it sounded like they were having good feedback so far. I can think of lots of pros and cons to the idea, so hopefully all of the cons disappear that they have a lot of success in their fun business endeavor. I'm always rooting for the independent business owners out there!

Yesterday morning started with a nice hike up Mt. Work. It's a fairly easy hike and if you stop to enjoy the scenery at the top for a few minutes, it only take a little over an hour round-trip. A nice Sunday morning hike. I didn't bring my camera so I have no pics to share of the trail but there was 1 or 2 magnificent views near the top.

I also got back to hot yoga yesterday :) I am ashamed to say that it has been nearly a year and a half since I stepped into a hot yoga studio and...oh man. I nearly forgot how amazing it feels to spend 90 minutes in a stupidly hot room and have obscenely amounts of sweat run off your body while standing in awkward positions with a bunch of nearly naked strangers. It felt great to get back in there. While I am not a huge fan of the Bikram Yoga, it was still good to get back in there and enjoy the amazingness of hot yoga (yes "amazingness" is a real word....)

So after burning several hundred calories in yoga, there is no place like Bin 4 to gain a couple thousand back into the body. I have been jonesin' for a good burger the past couple of days and wanted to hit The Pink Bicycle, but alas, it is closed on Sundays. So Bin 4 provided us with the greasy comeback needed after a great workout. I have eaten there a few times now and I swear that every burger I have at that place is better than the last. Between the "Mr. Bean" and the "Angry Bull", you just can't go wrong with Bin 4.

Well, back to work tomorrow. The last working day of the year! YAY!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Warm Gooshy Christmas Feelings (and Biscotti)

I've had a rough time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Maybe it's the lack of snow or the fact that I got the awesome surprise of having to dish out nearly $1000 to fix my car the other day. Mostly my holiday blahs stems from the realization that my family is in a weird mental state this year because my niece being sick and she has to live in Vancouver for the next few months for treatment. We're all kind of scattered around the province this year for the holidays and I suppose it has kind of thrown me off kilter. The out-pour of love and support from the community directed towards my family has been truly overwhelming and I know that I should be feeling joyous and wrapped in warm gooshy feelings of uplifting holiday spirit...but it's been difficult!

I will admit though that the giggly Christmas mood has been creeping in the past couple of days, which has been a tremendous relief! I was afraid that the holidays were going to sweep on by without infiltrating my apathetic state of mind. The other day while doing random tasks around the house, I put on The Nightmare Before Christmas and A Muppet Christmas Carol (which always makes me giggle like a kid). Those were the first to crack my shell. Then I decided to start my gifts for my coworkers, so I got to work baking a couple batches of biscotti (orange chocolate crystallized ginger biscotti which rock my world) and watched The Holiday while I baked. That definitely made the shell splinter open.

Today I even was humming Christmas carols which was definitely a sign that my soul has not charred up and flaked away.

And just now, I put on John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas album. Yep. Christmas can officially start now. This album is so what I needed to break into the Christmas spirit! I am having a personal revelation at this very moment. Aren't you so lucky to get to share it with me?

I am planning to spend Christmas with my niece, sister and brother-in-law which will be awesome. Spending Christmas with a 5 year old (or any child who still has that innocence of the holidays) is always the absolute best way to spend December 25th. The magic of watching them open their gifts, especially ones from the magical Santa Claus, is just the best. Unfortunately I only have the 24th and 25th off from work so it will be a super quick trip. Had I known in advance that I would be in Vancouver for those days then I would have taken an extra day or 2 to spend with my family, but I guess I'll just have to take what I can get and enjoy my time with them to the fullest extent possible.

Because my biscotti turned out so frickin delicious, I decided to put up the recipe for your enjoyment! Just like previous recipes on this site, this recipe was kind of created by looking at several biscotti recipe examples and I just created one recipe based on what I saw and the ingredients that I wanted to use. But they are delicious so I highly recommend making them.

Orange Chocolate Crystallized Ginger Biscotti 
- 1/4 cup butter, salted butter (room temperature)
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp grated and minced orange peel
- 2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs, vanilla and orange peel and beat until combined. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture, toss in the chocolate chips and ginger and stir until the mixture just comes together.

Oh yeah, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack at the very top.

Can you tell I'm writing this out purely from memory?

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the dough onto the counter and roll into a log (about 14 inches long and 5 inches wide).  Lift onto the baking sheet and flatten out the log to about 1 1/2 inches thick. It does not need to look perfect. Perfect is boring.

Biscotti Trick! When your log is all flattened out and on the baking sheet, make indents on both sides of the log so that the ends cave inwards (like a finger trap). This is an awesome trick because when the dough bakes, it will not expand outwa
rds so much and there will be less waste when you go to cut the logs later. 

Alright, back to the recipe. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top of the dough is just starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 2 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Lift the log onto a cutting board and slice into 3/4 - 1 inch slices. Put the cookies back onto the baking sheet and lay them on their side. Bake for 8 minutes, flip each cookie to the other side and bake another 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn off the oven and wait about 10 minutes. Once the oven has cooled down a bit, place them back in the oven and leave in the cooled oven overnight. This will allow them to dry out perfectly.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy at your leisure!

My homemade gifts for the lovely ladies at work.
Luckily (hopefully) none of them read this site. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hope For Cadance

I don't know where to even begin with this post.

One of the most precious little person in my world is sick and I am feeling completely powerless. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is what they call it, but I just call is surreal.

I don't want to go into detail about this story, because it is just too close to my heart. However, I do want to say that I am so honoured, proud and touched by the generosity and love shown from my hometown during this straining time. After the diagnosis, the family has been incredibly busy trying to get our personal agendas in line, when all of a sudden there was this massive out-pour of community support which emotionally blindsided me. People reaching out to help in any way they can, whether it be by saying a prayer for the family, or by lending out a basement to crash in while staying in Vancouver, or even sending various amounts of money to raise funds during this chaotic turn of events.

The support of all of these people and knowing that they are in our corner when they are needed is such an astounding feeling. Amazing is the only word that comes to mind.

I want to thank everyone for everything that is being done. Friends and relatives are reaching out to ask how to help, so if you want to know how to contribute, the link to the cause is as follows:

Hope for Cadance or simply

Thank you for the good wishes.

Thank you for the love.

Thank you for the support.

Thank you so much.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pumpkin Chicken Curry Soup

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Or in my world, with great masses of frozen pumpkin comes great need to find ideas to deal with it.

Pumpkin can be tricky to get rid of unless you want to create copious amounts of muffins, loaves and cookies. And I’m just one person. Eating it all would result in great mass-destruction of my thighs and ass.

So after staring into my fridge and cupboards for a couple minutes, I created a super tasty Pumpkin Chicken Curry Soup which will make a believer out of those who scoff soups and savoury items made with pumpkin. I enjoyed it so much that I have made it twice now and have been eating it nearly every day at work.

If you’re interested in making some for yourself and/or the family, here is my “recipe” for your enjoyment (keep in mind that I pulled this recipe out of nowhere so these measurements are not at all perfect and you might need to add a little extra this and little less of that to make it your own).

Make-Shift Pumpkin Chicken Curry Soup

- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
In a large pot with some vegetable or coconut oil, cook until softened (5 minutes). Add:
- 2 tbsp red curry paste
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
Cook about 5-7 minutes or until veggies are softened. Add
- 3 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
- Enough chicken stock to cover the veggies
Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and simmer until everything is very soft. Add:
Using a hand blender (or a regular blender if that’s all you have), blend the soup until it is mostly smooth (I like it to be a little chunky but I’m strange that way). Add:
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- Lots of black pepper
- Lots of Sriracha (or just a little if you’re a WIMP!)
Heat through and enjoy!

Note that I don’t add any extra salt because I use chicken stock and hot sauce which provides plenty of flavor for me. If you wanted to, you could also add some cream or yogurt to make it nice and creamy but I find that the texture is pretty delicious without it. Then again, I’m not into cream soups. You can also make it vegetarian by using vegetable stock and omitting all forms on chicken. Still tasty in vegetarian form!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe and actually give it a try. You can easily omit the potatoes if you want something with less carbs/starch, but I like how thick the potatoes make the soup.

It's funny. I was concerned about having too much pumpkin and not knowing what to do with it. Now I am panicking knowing that I'm already running low and will need more to keep up with my new soup addiction. Anyone have any pumpkins they want to contribute to my newest addiction? 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

(Insert Vicious Comment Here)

Today I had a moment in which I was ashamed of myself and came to the realization that all people, including mild mannered me....please no comments...can have a startling Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moment.

Have you ever watched the HBO stand-up “Oh. My. God.” By Louie C.K.? At one point he talks about how he transforms into this person whom he doesn’t even recognize when he is driving in his car. Words, expressions and horrible things that he would never ever say to anyone in any other circumstance, suddenly flow freely the moment that he is behind the wheel of his car. Even if someone does something super minimal, something that does not corrupt the flow of traffic or put him in any real danger, he will go off the deep-end and say something downright horrific to the driver of that car (obviously the other driver can’t hear him).

Well today that was me. And no, it was not my first offense of saying slanderous obscenities to complete strangers while driving in my car. Things that I would never ever say outside of my vehicle just come pouring from my mouth without a thought of how incredibly vile they sound coming from any human being. Plus I am usually such a courteous driver! I let people in and I give little waves when others let me in! I don’t rush to beat red lights and I don’t get all bent out of shape when I am stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Now you’re probably thinking “Omigod! What is this callous person saying to these poor people?” In my defense, these horrible things likely aren’t as bad as 90% of the filth that comes out of most people’s mouths, but by my personal standards, they’re pretty bad. And as soon as I say them I am like, “GASP! Why did I just say that?” What compels me to become this profanity slinging motorist? Most of the time I am a go-with-the-flow, take things as they come at me, kind of person who wouldn’t let something like getting cut off on the TransCanada by a crappy little Nissan Sentra, send me into a verbal tailspin.

But them sometimes…..

Is it knowing that I can verbally attack a complete stranger without him/her ever knowing it that allows me to curse and wish malicious things upon that person? Yes he cut me off and I had to slam on my brakes to keep from rear-ending him…but does that make it OK for me speak the way I did? Even if he never knows it?
Maybe I’m just spending too much time driving from Point A to Point B these days and it’s turning me into this person. Or maybe I just miss having a job that allows me to swear like a sailor (damn I miss the bakery sometimes). Maybe I need to find an outlet for this road rage.

This story on (I love this website) says that we are simply territorial creatures and the car is just an extension of our territory. When people tail-gate, cut us off or do something within close proximity that affects our territory, we get emotional and end up in a state of mental and verbal chaos. But what I don’t get is that if someone were to cut me off in a place such as a clothing store and I had to take a couple step backs to avoid getting pushed over, yes that person got into my personal space but I wouldn’t verbally attack the that person.

I think being able to swear, curse and yell obscenities in the safety of the car is what sends us into the road rage state. Having that one space to say the things that we normally could never say to people is a form of aggressive outlet. I’m not saying that this is a good thing and I am ashamed of what I say when cooped up in the privacy of my little Honda…but at least I know that this is normal and it’s not as though I do it very often. Most of the time I am too busy belting out the words to whatever song my iPod flips to to put out the effort to yell at the stranger in the Tacoma in front of me. 

I’ll get to Point B when I get there. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today Class - P is for Pumpkin!

Most days I feel like a bumbling fool without the knowledge or ability to really teach or contribute to society. I'm not dumb by any means and I've learned a thing or two from my time on this earth, but c'mon...people aren't knocking down my door to pick my brain to reveal the vast amount of wisdom and knowledge buried deep within. However, every so often I come across a chance moment in which I know something that someone in my circle is not aware of and I jump on the opportunity to teach and explain all that I know.

Two mornings ago, hours before the roosters were rubbing the sleep from their eyes, I picked up a co-worker on the way to work. While I sat in my car waiting for her to finish packing up her stuff inside her house, I noticed that she had a fair number of leftover Halloween pumpkins sitting in her yard. A couple hours into the shift I asked if she was planning on doing anything with her pumpkins. She sighed heavily and explained that she just didn't have the time to even carve them this year since she's been so busy with work and renovations on the house, so they were just going to get composted. I asked if it would be alright for me to grab a couple of them (because I LOVE roasted pumpkin seeds and hated the idea of them going waste), which she easily permitted.

Then I said that if she wants, she can give me some old empty yogurt/butter/ice cream containers and I will bake the flesh for her and she can have it to do with as she wishes. I had so much left over from my own pumpkins that my freezer couldn't take on any more, but I didn't want it to go to waste so I would do that for her if she wanted. I also know that she is a fantastic cook and baker so she might want the pumpkin for future kitchen endeavors. She gave me this strange look and asked what I meant. I repeated the offer. Then she asked, "So you bake the pumpkin? In the oven?"

Me - "Yeah, then you can bake or cook with it."
Her - "Like can you make pumpkin pie with it?"
Me - "Yes, exactly, Or loaves, muffins, soups...anything you want."
Her - "So it's like the stuff in the cans at the store?"

Where do people think that canned pumpkin comes from? The label clearly indicates the one and only ingredient in the can - "Pumpkin."

At this point my mind was slightly blown that this woman, in all of her life, never baked the flesh of an old Jack O Lantern to use for her future baking needs. And then I thought, "Is it common for people to not do this?"

Throughout my years I have learned that it is slightly uncommon for people to bake their pumpkins and use it to cook with, but now I have learned that is it way more uncommon than I realized. In my family, every single November we would bake our pumpkins, scoop out the flesh and freeze it where it would be an important ingredient in future pumpkin loaves, muffins and other delicious baked goods. It's a super easy process and will save you lots of money on that canned pumpkin you buy in the stores.

So this morning I went and swiped 3 of the abandoned pumpkins from my co-worker's driveway and recorded the process for your learning needs. Here is the easy step-by-step process to baking your old Halloween pumpkin to create your very own stock of healthy and homemade pumpkin puree.

Step 1: Take an old Jack O Lantern.
Please make sure that it is not moldy. Ewwwww. 

Or as I did today, take a pumpkin and scoop out the guts.

Do not forget to keep the guts! Those seeds are priceless!

Step 2: Cut the pumpkin in half and place face down on a baking sheet. 

Step 3: Bake at 375 degrees F for 45-90 minutes, depending on the thickness of the flesh.
The skin will get dark and wrinkly.
Step 4: When the pumpkin cools a little, peel off the skin.
It will naturally pull away from the flesh so this is an easy task to accomplish.

Step 5: Put all of the pumpkin into a large bowl and puree
it with a hand blender.

Ahhhhhhhh. Nice and smooth.

At this point you can now freeze the pumpkin in empty yogurt containers, or whatever empty plastic tubs you have laying around the basement that you have been waiting to have a chance to reuse. I recommend freezing them in 1-2 cups portions since recipes generally ask for these amounts of pumpkin puree.

But because I am me, I am not done yet because I just did all of this for the seeds! 

Step 6: Toss the raw seeds in some oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt. 
Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast until brown and crispy. 
Stir them several times in the process to make sure that they roast evenly. 

Step 7: Be a good person and bake your co-worker a pumpkin loaf as a thank 
you for allowing you to take her pumpkins for your own personal use.

Now after all of this, I just know you're thinking that this is way too long of a process and no normal person has enough time to do such a thing. It's really not all that time consuming at all if you are even slightly talented at time management. If you're going to be home doing other chores or in and out doing errands, it's easy to swoop in and out of the kitchen to do these tasks at cooking, cooling and pureeing intervals. 

Or you can just toss your pumpkin off of a roof-top and watch is smash into smithereens onto the street below. Your call. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Plant Praise.....and Mullets.

It's very strange the things that we become personally and emotionally attached to. As children it's things such as a blanket or favourite stuffed animal. The thought of not touching that object at every waking moment was just beyond comprehension therefore mom was likely sneaking it out our beds and tossing them in the wash while we slept oblivious to their absence. As we grow up it can be things such as a favourite hoodie or article of clothing that has sentimental value. Some people become overly attached to their pets and get massive murals created of Mr. Meow or Captain Winky and lovingly hang these above the mantel where they are looked upon with love and pride. Sure the rest of us don't understand why there needs to be a massive 10x10 ft picture of someone's Maltese hanging in the living room when the dog is still alive and sleeping comfortably in his overstuffed bedazzled dog bed just a few feet away...but who are we to judge?

Admit, it. You judge.

My Money Tree
Yes I have a picture!
I seem to become a bit too attached to my plants. Yep, I love my house plants. I don't do things such as sing to them or buy them overly priced organic soil or anything of the such, but I enjoy having plants around and I find them comforting. When I was living in PEI I had a couple plants which I adopted when my roommate Shawn abandoned them. Being the most impulsive consumer that I have ever met, he came home one day with these 2 plants and decided that they would be just what our apartment needed. But it ended up being me who took care of them and brought them back to life when he forgot about them.

After 3 years when organizing to move back to BC, embarrassingly enough, I made a really strong effort to find my plants a good home where I knew they would be loved and nurtured and asked some pretty specific questions to the person to whom I eventually handed them over to. Especially my Money Tree. It almost died once when the heat in the house went out for about a week when we were all away for Christmas and it froze; but I revived it from it's most feeble form! But once I saw the rest of the plants belonging to the girl who I was surrendering my plants over to, I knew they were going to a good home

So now the point of this ramble! Waaaaaaaaay back in the day, the guy I was dating guy at the time had this teeny tiny jade plant which he stuck in a mason jar, with some dirt, and hoped for the best. After some time it outgrew it's jar and we transplanted it into a pot. As plants tend to do, it kept growing. One day while transplanting it again, a branch broke off and I stuck the broken branch into another pot and hoped for the best. If you know anything about these plants you'll know that they are amazingly resilient and will sprout roots in just about anything and survive. So eventually this little branch grew into the plant that I have raised for all of these years.

When I moved to PEI I left the plant with my mom and hoped that she wouldn't kill it (my mom is the best in pretty much every way except for keeping plants alive). Luckily jade plants are amazing and it took more than my mother to kill it.

Love you mom!

My 10 year old Jade Plant. 
Last week my parents came to visit me and they were great enough to pack up the plant and reunite us together again after 5 1/2 long years of separation. Today I bought it a new and bigger pot and am so happy to have it part of my bedroom once again. There's this homey and comforting feeling of it being part of my surroundings again, kind of like the day I finally hung all of my pictures in my bedroom. It's as though a piece of me and my life from BC has come back to me and filled a small gap of what I have been missing since I got back.

I know this will sound silly to a lot of you because yes, it is "just a plant." But I'm cool with you judging me a little for my attachment to my house plants cause I'm totally judging you for holding onto that pair of shoes that were destroyed that one drunken New Year's but you just can't throw away because you kissed that guy that night and hate to get rid of such a memory because maybe, just maybe, the stars will realign and you will cross paths once again.

Uh huh.

And one last thing that has nothing to do with my silly plant love. I saw this on TV and I nearly peed my pants with glee! It's an online dating service called Mullet Passions and it's for people who have or who have a hankering for people who have mullets!!

HEHE! I am a HUGE fan of the mullet and I fear the day that they ever become extinct (hopefully this happens well after I am gone), so I was so pleased that the mullet community has come together to openly share their love for their classic hair-do.  I almost want to join just to see what's going on on there! It makes me so happy!

Maybe if I joined then someday I could be as happy as this couple. One could only wish.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's That Time Again

It’s that time of year again. The time of year that I try to block from my mind until it eventually creeps up and I have to face the calendar and accept what is before me. That special time of year in which all women are cringing and all razor companies take a major hit in sales.

Yep, it’s Movember. The unsexiest month of the year.

I can truly appreciate that men are all coming together to express their support towards the awareness and fight against prostate and testicular cancer...but isn’t there a better way to do it? Let’s face the facts here people. About 99.6% of the male population cannot pull off a moustache without looking like a pedophile or police officer from an 80’s movie. Plus there are an alarming number of men who simply cannot grow a decent moustache and end up having just patches of creepy fuzz on their upper lip, causing a look of prepubescent awkwardness. Wasn’t puberty bad enough for them that they wish not relive those feelings of physical discomfort? 

And for the record, yes, there are some really, really sexy guys out there sporting moustaches. One of them might even work at a local Costco store (says a certain friend of mine who shall remain unnamed...and I agree with her). 

This isn't him...but we appreciate Tom Selleck. 

I have come up with a theory that I plan to follow up on. It’s called the Movember Baby Theory and in this theory, I am going to suspect that the number of babies born in the months of August and September are going to and have already increased dramatically due to the up rise of Movember moustaches hitting the streets. My bets are that there is less sex happening during this month and that the number of women’s headaches and strangely lengthy periods are oddly increasing. But by the time December comes around and those moustaches are washed down the bathroom drain, the ladies will be happy again. Hence, late summer/early autumn babies!

In my mind I think that the best way to approach Movember that proves that you are not just some creepy dude with a stache, is to do a fairly unconventional moustache. This approach helps to show that the moustache is for the month and not a full-time feature on your face. For example, the handlebar moustache. Most dudes don’t have one of these so most people seeing it will think, “Ah yes. That must be for Movember.” Or pair the moustache with some sweet mutton chops. Go overboard with it guys. The last thing you want is some hot chick to wonder if your creepy wisp of thin hair on your upper lip is a permanent accessory on your face.

Now I fully support the fight against prostate and testicular cancer. These are scary diseases and the fact that they target younger men (specifically testicular) is alarming because most younger men are not going to be checking themselves or placing themselves in a category that worries about cancer. If wearing a moustache for a month is going to remind these men to go home and "check themselves”, then that’s awesome! Please guys, don't overlook the central meaning behind the moustache to just do something that society is really promoting as being “cool” or “trendy”. Go home and check yourself or go to your doctor and ask to be examined and tested. 

In the lunch room today I saw a notice on the bulletin board that restored my faith in the message behind Movember. They’re calling forward men who work for the hospital to register online, grow the famous moustache trademark and get donations from friends, family, coworkers or anyone who understands the story of the moustache. Raising money for awareness and finding the cure of the key to all of this and I for one will support anyone who comes my way asking to help fight prostate and testicular cancer.

And if anyone needs any help learning how to grow a proper moustache, here is a 2 minute instructional video from Nick Offerman. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Forgive me Maynard for I have sinned.
It has been about 11 years since my last "confession" and now I come forward to purge my sins in hopes of dissolving the heavy burden fallen upon my conscience.

In all fairness, my last "confession" occurred while driving towards Castlegar in my heterolifepartner's Datsun station wagon. It was actually a double whammy in the sin-confessing department since we both confessed to each other on that fateful day. Here is how the conversation went down:

Her - "I have something to tell you."
Me - "What's up?"
Her - "I don't hate the new N'SYNC album."
Me - "I don't hate it either!!!"
Her - "And I kind of love them and listen to them secretly in my car and at home in my room."
Me - "ME TOO!"
(You have to keep in mind that this was 2001 and the two of us were heavily listening to bands such as Limp Bizkit, Good Charlotte, Eminem and so forth).

I'm also pretty sure this was when we officially sealed the deal on our eternal love for one another.

Anyway, confessing the love of a band that, by our standards sucked the big one, was a pretty big deal and we didn't share our mutual feelings with other people.  It's not easy for most people to admit their faults and while curiosity supposedly killed the proverbial cat, my curiosity recently got the best of me.  So that is why today I have to admit to the world of something that I did a few days ago that will rock the foundation of what you think about me and what I thought about myself.

Alright. Here I go.

I got a copy of Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience album.

That's not even by far the worst of it.

I also go Miley Cyrus's new album Bangerz.

......No wait. There's more.

I like Miley's album way more than JT's.

There! I said it! I feel so filthy!

I began by first admitting to JT's album because that one isn't that big of a deal. He's come out with some pretty great songs in his time so when I fell in love with "Mirrors" and didn't mind the other released single, I couldn't help but take a peek at the rest of the album to see what was going on there.

But the Miley excuses are pretty thin. I saw her on Ellen a week or so ago and listened to her sing that "Wrecking Ball" song of hers. What captured me about her performance is that she didn't sound like shit. The girl has some decent chops on her and while her style of music DOES NOT fit anywhere on my grid of music that I would ever listen to, I was intrigued. If she had some songs that actually displayed her singing ability and not all of the media propaganda that surrounds her name, the album might be worth looking into.

So I listened to both albums beginning to end (while skipping some songs that made me cringe and I could not make through even though I wanted to legitimately try my best to), I have come to a couple small personal conclusions about them

JT's is alright. A couple of his songs are catchy but there is a lot of repetition of lyrics in his songs which drives me a bit bonkers. In my opinion, the album has some highlights but overall the lyrics just fall short. Sorry JT...but you're sure nice to look at.

Miley's is also alright and actually drives me less bonkers than JT's. Unfortunately the girl can't seem to make a song without help from a featured artist (aka, 6 unimportant lines per song performed by a rapper) and she caters to the young audience by throwing in a decent amount of swearing and sexual references. However, while there are some songs that I can't even try to listen to because they are so bad, she has a couple songs that I actually like. For example, FU is pretty hilarious! It's a great screaming in the car song.

So there we go. The truth is out and I hope no one thinks less of me for any of this. To make up for it I will only listen to heavy metal for the next month in hopes of cleansing my soul of this temporary lapse of sanity.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Foggy Day on Salt Spring Island

I've been really stressed out at work lately so I decided to take a loner mental health day and go to Salt Spring Island for the day. Salt Spring Island is part of the Gulf Islands, is on the east side of Vancouver Island and you can get there in only 35 minutes via ferry from Swartz Bay. The entire island has only a population of about 10,000 people and I believe that there may be more sheep than people inhabiting the island. OK, that may not be true, but there are a lot of sheep. Since moving here I have wanted to check out the Saturday Farmer's Market and explore the little hippie island that people around here tell me that I would appreciate.

So my plan today was to take the 9am ferry, check out the market and the little communities on the island, then hike to the top of Mt. Maxwell for the famously amazing view that I heard so much about. Unfortunately the weather did not really work in my favour. The Weather Network said it would be sunny and semi-warm, but it ended up being very cool and extremely foggy. I went to the island anyway hoping that the temperature would increase and the fog would lift. I drove around enjoying nature, the market, the towns and the very friendly people who were eager to ask questions about where I was from and recommend things for me to do while visiting for the day. Unfortunately they all recommended me to skip the hike due to the fog and the conditions of the road to the trail head. Apparently unless you have a 4x4 or something equally helpful to dodge massive potholes and crumbling roads, it's not worth the trip for short stature vehicles (like my little Honda). Plus the fog would make the view from the top non-existent.

A foggy afternoon by the water

I killed some time by driving around, checking out some of the art studios, tourist attractions and beaches, all in hopes of the weather lifting so that I could conquer the hike.

What I loved about the island is that it reminded me so much of Nelson BC. People living off of the land, producing their products themselves and enjoying a laid back kind of lifestyle. The population consists hugely of artists, musicians and farmers who are all involved in contributing to the community. Organic, natural, home-made, home-grown and "made with love" were the kinds of products you see on the tables at the markets and on the shelves at the stores. As you drive along the windy roads throughout the island, every minute or so you come across a stand at the end of a family farm driveway with a product for sale, such as fresh eggs, vegetables, jams/jellies or lavender. All of these stands are based on the "honour system", meaning that you take the product and leave money behind. Honestly, every turn and bend had one of these stands full of products for people passing by to take a look at and purchase if desired. I love that there are places in the world that still have honourable people inhabiting communities that can follow a system such as this.

Eventually I decided to give up waiting for the weather and headed back to my larger and busier island. Luckily on the way back towards the ferry I saw a sign saying "Brewery" and took a sharp right up a farm road and went to check out Salt Spring Island Ales brewery. When I pulled up to the building, I could not help but produce an ear-to-ear smile.

It was perfect.

It was exactly what the brewery on the island should have looked like.

Small, old, semi-dilapidated and hidden in amongst the trees and mountains that make BC as wonderful as it is.

The brewery is just an old barn with two big tanks in the back and a natural spring running beside it (which is the water they use to make the beer with). The organic hops for the beer are grown just up the road and all of the beer production happens on the island. After a minute of trying to figure out where the shop was to purchase the beer, I found the narrow staircase heading to the top of the barn/brewery which lead me to a small room with one counter, a keg, a beer fridge and a very friendly woman who explained to me everything there was to know about the product and brewery. We chatted for some time, talked about beer, travel and PEI and I left with 3 bottles of delicious ale to take back with me.

So even though I didn't get to hike a mountain today, I still got to experience Salt Spring Island and enjoy my day away from my worries. I know that since I went in the middle of October that I missed out on the true Saturday market (a lot of vendors aren't around this late in season) and the outdoorsy experiences that one gets in the warm summer months. But I got some amazing local coffee, beer, spices and body lotions to remind me of the lovely little island nestled up close to Vancouver Island. I'll definitely head back to the cozy and colourful island when the weather warms up again and I'll see the view from the top of Mt. Maxwell.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Just A Hop, Jump and Skip to Fitness!

No I did not carve this but I wanted to put up
a picture of an AMAZING pumpkin carving. 
For as long as I can remember, I have loved carving pumpkins. When I was a kid and living at home, the number of pumpkins that mom grew had a direct relationship on my happiness. The more pumpkins that were produced meant increased levels of happiness on my part. So every Halloween I look forward to my annual pumpkin carving with great anticipation. However, the one thing that I am always missing is a good pumpkin carving knife. I have always wanted a nice carving kit but have been unable to find one that suits my needs. And by this I mean a knife that doesn’t bend or break in half the minute I try to saw open a pumpkin.

So I went out of my way to go to every kitchen and specialty store that I could find in an attempt to search for a carving knife or kit that would satisfy me. But I couldn’t find one! So I ventured online in my search and ended up choosing Pro Pumpkin Carving Tool from Zombie Pumpkins. As soon as it came in the mail I had to take it for a for a spin, so yesterday I went out, bought a pumpkin and busted open my newest carving toy.

And here is my creation!

I took multiple pictures of it lit up but they all turned out blurry! No matter what setting I tried it always came out blurry, so I gave up.

SEE! Very frustrating.

It was my first attempt at trying to do a carving of not cutting all the way through to get the “shaded” effect. And it worked alright. It’s not as clean as I would like but I need some kind of pumpkin chisel to get the smoothness that I crave. 

Mental note, find a chisel.

The knife worked fairly decently. It’s sharp and sturdy and easy to use. Plus the blades are a tiny bit bendy which helps when making a curve in the cut. In a couple weeks I am going to try to do a more intricate carving so we’ll see how the knife stands up to the real test.

On another note, I think that I have started a new fitness trend at the gym! Jump rope! Wait… that didn’t sound right. I’m not saying that I introduced the gym to jump rope because that would be a blatant lie and I can’t even begin to take the glory for the creation of jumping rope. But in the 8ish months that I have been attending my gym I have never seen another person jump rope. In the past month I have become slightly obsessed with ending my workouts with at least 10-20 minutes of skipping (and my ass and calves are thanking me for it). And now for the past 3 days I have seen other women skipping! Maybe I have inspired these people to pull out their jump ropes from the dark corners of their closets, wipe off the dust and go back to a youthful form of exercise that has been forgotten by most people.

Or maybe I have a big ego and imagination and I want to take the credit for this jump rope awakening.

But now that I am on the subject, I highly recommend mixing up your fitness routine and busting out your old jump rope for a nice little cardio session. Skipping is an inexpensive form of exercise which tones muscles, increases your cardiovascular health and burns just as many calories, actually probably quite a few more, than some cardio machine.  When I first started skipping I struggled to get through 10 minutes of non-stop jumping. Now I am up to a solid 20 minutes of fairly skilled skipping and I am always looking for new moves and going faster each time.

Remember doing the Jump Rope for Heart in elementary school? Remember how awesome that was?

While looking for some new moves to spruce up my skipping routine, today I found this video and was impressed with myself to learn that I already am doing a majority of the moves. Scissors, high knees, side to side, forward and back, running on the spot, double hops, butt kicks, one foot hops and two at a time are on my “DONE” list. However, the criss-cross, heel to toe, short sprints and one foot side to side on my “TO DO” list. But the heel jumps and up & over look brutal and frighten me! Maybe in time I will attempt these moves without fear of getting tangled in the rope and falling on my butt and/or face. Wouldn’t that be a pretty picture? Ouch.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Breaking Bad - The End.

With a combination of busyness and absentmindedness, I have somehow neglected to put up this post even though it has been fully written in my brain for the past 6 days. This is quite surprising considering the personal importance of the near-and-dear subject. And that subject is ----the series finale of Breaking Bad.

If you have never watched Breaking Bad and have randomly stumbled upon this blog post, please take the time to go to your nearest computer and immediately find all 5 seasons of this legendary television series. I was hooked after watching the first episode.

The storyline is as follows. A man with a genius brain for chemistry and science is stuck working as a high-school chemistry teacher and part-time at a car wash. He has a teenage son with cerebral palsy, a younger wife who is pregnant, and he finds out that he has terminal lung cancer. He’s a total straight and narrow guy who has never smoked a day in his life or even thought about breaking any kind of laws. In fear of not being able to provide for his family after he is gone, he decides the quickest way to make a lot of money in a short period of time is to cook highly potent methamphetamine with a local drug-dealer (who was once his student). Oh, and his brother in law is a DEA agent.

There were 2 main things that I loved about this show.

Better Call Saul!
1) The acting. The acting was just awesome in every way. Every single actor in the show completely owned their role and was completely believable. You loved who you were supposed to love and hated who you were supposed to hate.

2) The characters/writing. This is hard to describe… there was so much depth written into the story line and the character,s and this made it so that you became attached to the each character. At least I did anyway. The writers knew the strengths and weaknesses of every character and made sure to take full advantage of that at every opportunity.

Breaking Bad is definitely in my top 3 of all-time favourite shows (along with House and Dexter) and could possibly rank at either #1 or #2. The show has a lot of violence and is non-stop criminal activity (obviously) and even if this kind of stuff bothers you, I still recommend trying to watch it because it truly is a captivating story.

Plus it’s impossible not to fall in love with Jessie.

So as I mentioned, after watching this show with complete devotion for 5 seasons, Sunday was the series finale. The second half of season 5 was excruciatingly suspenseful (they split season 5 into two parts which nearly killed me) so wondering how it was going to end was one everyone’s mind. Would they do an ending which left us hanging in horror or would they bring it to a neat and tidy end?

SPOILER ALERT! I am going to talk about how Breaking Bad ended now. As with my posting about Dexter’s finale, you have been adequately warned and I hold no responsibility of you knowing how it ends.

The one word that came to mind when that finale episode ended was Depressing. As the music ended the scene and the credits popped up on the screen, I just sat there is sadness. Considering the dark story line and unsettling scenarios, it’s not as though the show could have ended happily without being completely bogus. We all knew that bad things were going to happen; we just didn’t know if anyone would actually survive at the end of it all.

What I loved about how they ended the show. By the time the finale scene came to an end, we all know that it was done. Complete closure. No bits were left unattended to and you weren’t asking yourself any questions about anyone or anything. It was over and that was that. All of the bad people were taken care of, the one good character that we were all cheering for got away and Walter White died in the place that started him along his path of self-destruction – a meth lab.

Plus they brought back Badger and Skinny Pete one last time. That made me happy!

Something I really enjoyed about the final episode is that they found a way to make us not hate Walter White anymore. I think that it is safe to say that most of the Breaking Bad fans were hating Walt because he became such a power-hungry, money-obsessed asshole who would take out anyone who got in his way. By the time the episode ended, we were all back in Walter’s side as he brought justice to the men who screwed him, Jessie, Hank and Gomez over.

My favourite part about the whole final episode was the final conversation that Walter had with Skylar in her kitchen. Throughout the entire 5 seasons, Walter is trying to convince everyone around him that he is doing all of these horrible things for the sake of his family and to make sure that they would be OK financially when the cancer eventually takes him. When he says that he did it all for himself, it was a great admittance for the character to reveal to his wife and to the fans watching. Walter not being able to say goodbye to Walt Jr. was sad, but the whole episode was heart wrenching so no surprise there!

Oh no wait! The best part was when Walt took out an entire room of Nazis with a machine gun. Awwwww yeeeeaaahhh!

I could write about this show forever, but I will leave it at that. So long Breaking Bad. You were awesomely awesome with a side of wonderful.

PS. Mad stacks yo!!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lucky Leftie?

Have I mentioned lately how much I love science? If not, I friggin’ love science! It makes me happy knowing that people out there are constantly doing research to learn more about why we are the way we are and how we have evolved over time.

I recently found an article from Northwestern University to be particularly interesting. It is about the relationship between your levels of cooperation and competitiveness and how that can be related to your handedness (whether you are right or left handed). This study that the article discusses revolves around the idea that as human beings evolved and survived, there was a great need for high levels of cooperation. This meant that being the same played a huge part in survival because being similar made life easier. To coordinate hunting expeditions and build safe living structures meant that we had to work together to make them successful. Items such as weapons and tools needed to work for everyone so survival of the fittest made us mostly all right handed to accommodate this.

The 10:1 ratio of righties to lefties in the general population hasn’t changed in the past 5,000 years and it doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to make any adjustments. But now these researchers are finding that the more competitive a group of people to be, that the number of left handed people within that group dramatically increases. Left-handed people seem to have an edge when it comes to being competitive because they have to approach challenge/life a bit differently. Lefties have been shown to use more areas of the brain than right handed people because they have been living in a right-handed world their entire lives and have to adapt to survive within it.

It appears that it works in our advantage though! When everyone else is ducking one way, we’re throwing you off by ducking the opposite way and coming in for the win. This study found that in some sports, particularly professional baseball players and boxers, that the ratio of righties to lefties is up in the 1:1 margin. That’s quite a significant change from 1:10.

Random Trivia Factoid: Did you realize that 5 out of the last 7 American Presidents have been left handed? What does that tell us? This hugely competitive job is seemingly being slowly taken over by left-handed people.

I’ve been talking to some people about this topic and have now heard from a couple people that they know left-handed people who seem to be very lucky individuals (simply meaning that they have good luck.) You know, the kind of people who find money on the street or score the last brownie in the lunch room. That kind of luck. Are lefties lucky?

So I have been sitting back for a few days and allowing this information sink into my brain. Many years ago while waiting in chiropractor’s office, I read this super interesting article about lucky people. There are many theories as to why some people are luckier than others, such as good timing and personality traits such as seizing the opportunity when it presents itself. But there are two things that I distinctly remember reading in this article. The first is that people who seem luckier than the rest of us tend to do things “differently”, meaning that they are more likely to take different driving routes home or order something different every time they go to a restaurant. Lucky people don’t live monotonous lives and don’t always go with the regular flow of society. Shouldn’t this mean that left handed people have a better chance at having higher levels of luck than the rest of society since “going with the flow” doesn’t really work a lot of the time when you're a leftie? Plus we’re apparently extra competitive so one might think that this would ante up our luck levels at least marginally.

The second thing was that lucky people are more likely to be willing to lose or fail than miss out on the opportunity of trying. Meaning, lucky people are risk-takers. Sounds a bit strange, but if you relate that to left handed people you have to keep in mind that we are always ready to fail! We pick up every pair of sewing scissors just waiting for the inability to cut through a piece of paper. We know that there is a huge change that we’re going to smudge the ink when we write something and the chain attached to pens at the bank are never (ever) long enough to let us write anything anyway! Even if the chain is long enough and the ink doesn’t smudge, it’s basically impossible to write anything if the paper is within a binder. We’ve been set up for failure since birth!

Then I came to another simple hypothesis. It’s been proven that left handed people are more likely to have higher IQs than those who are right handed (once again because of the different way the brain is used). Wouldn’t any kind of “luck” be simply connected to the increased intelligence? Successful people aren’t successful based on luck. They are successful based on being intelligent and coming up with ideas that are useful to society and thus making them rich and powerful.  Some people are useless (c’mon…they are) and these people seem to be the ones saying, “I just have no luck when it comes to…(jobs, women, men, cars, gambling...etc).” Maybe luck is more based on making good decisions. 

But then again, left-handed people also are more prone to getting scared more easily, PTSD, anger, embarrassment and becoming alcoholics. Perhaps we’re just constantly carefully calculating ways to avoid these things so that we do not become useless members of society. No one likes a scared alcoholic who throws a pair of scissors across the room in uncontrollable anger. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dexter: The End of an Era

Nearly 7 years ago, Showtime released a television show called Dexter. A dark and twisted series, Dexter is about a man who by day, works for Miami metro as a blood spatter analyst, and by night works as a serial killer. In no time at all, the masses flocked to their screens every Sunday night to watch Dexter make his kills and bury them at sea. The twist about the story line is that he kills only bad people, people who he proves to be evil people and need to die so that they cannot harm anyone else. Through a long succession of lies, betrayal, luck, lust, anger and heart wrenching moments, (plus lots and lots of blood), Dexter has survived for a total of 8 seasons for our viewing pleasure.

I didn’t get into the show until it was entering the third season. I had heard about it right when it was first released but because I am not a fan of guts and gore, I did not attempt to watch it. But then I did. And once I started watching it, I just couldn’t stop. I got the first 2 seasons on DVD from Blockbuster (remember Blockbuster??) and hid out in my room watching the episodes in sequence from beginning to end. I would turn on my laptop, turn out the lights and watch Dexter in awe of what it was. Cruel and dark with a good score of humour intertwined amongst the blood and death. It was one of the few shows that I would actually yell out loud “OH MY GOD!” when an episode would end. I just had to know what happened next. It was so intense.

Plus Michael C. Hall is sexy as hell playing Dexter Morgan. He gets all dark and his voice goes all hollow.... What is it about that man and that brown shirt? 

Last night was the last episode of Dexter.
The series finale.
No more Dexter.

I watched the episode this morning and even after having 12 hours to think about what I watched, I am still having a really difficult time putting my thoughts and feelings into words. For the past few weeks I have been watching religiously and have been hoping that everyone would live happily ever after. After all of the shit that those people have gone through, I wanted things to just work out, let the bad guys die and let everyone else just be happy. The end. I kept telling people, "I hope it ends well and they are get to be happy...but I know it won't because it is Dexter."

WARNING! If you ever plan to watch Dexter or have yet to see the final episode, stop reading right now because I am going to talk about it and give it all away. Even if you might someday in the far future decide to watch the show, stop reading now because I would hate so much for you to know how it ends. That would make me feel wretched to know that I wrecked the ending for you.

You have been warned.

But no. Dexter is not about happily ever after and never has been. Why should it start now that the show was ending? Things just don’t work out like that for these people so even though I had hoped for the best, I was mentally prepared for the worst. And yes, the worst happened. Deb died. She fuckin’ died! (To all of you who know Debra Morgan, you know that the F word was completely valid and totally called for in the situation). When Dexter walked into her room, saw her all hooked up to life support and broke down in emotion, I was devastated to see that emotion come from the character. Dexter does not get emotional (ever) and does not get choked up…so it was a pretty pivotal moment for the character to have. My heart broke and from there I knew that shit was going to get real very quickly. Dexter didn’t get his happy ending. He faked his death, abandoned his son and left his son with the only woman whom he ever loved; the only woman who would ever accept him for what he was. It was heart breaking. He gave it all up so that they could have normalcy and so that he could stop hurting the people he loved.

The thing with Dexter that we all need to keep in mind is that overall, Dexter is a bad guy. He is. He kills people. He is a serial killer who hunts down his prey, ties them down to a table, ends their life, chops them up into pieces and discards the pieces over the side of his boat. Basically every single death in that show was linked to him in some way and a lot of innocent people died because of him. Why should he get his happy ending? Why did we all want to see him get what he wanted, get his happy life, when deep down we all knew that he was the root cause for a lot of terrible happenings?

Because he was dead inside and he was finally becoming a normal human being! Because we love him. We love the show and the characters and everything about it. We’re all just gushy hopeless romantics and in the end we just want things to work out for the best and let love prevail. Whether that love is between a brother and sister, boyfriend and girlfriend, father and son or cop and cop, knowing that the show was ending made us want the characters to end on a good note. Too bad for us! I knew that it was going to end badly and that Argentina would never happen, but a girl can dream.

I know that Dexter is just a silly TV show, but now that it is over, it’s like a chapter of my life is done too. That sounds ridiculous to write, but I have devoted 5 years to watching that show and now it is over. I won’t ever watch a new Dexter episode again. It’s a sad thought. I believe that yes, the show had run its course and it was time for it to come to an end. How many times can a guy get away with killing people night after night? Especially a guy who works for a police department! But as a viewer, it is hard to say goodbye to the show. We got to know these characters and all of the silly inside jokes. We laugh with them in good times and cry with them in their grief. The end of a TV show is kind of like having a reliable friend who suddenly stops calling. It sucks.

So thank you Dexter for entertaining me for all of these years. You were awesome.

PS. Breaking Bad is ending soon too. Stay tuned for my mental breakdown when that show ends!