Tuesday, December 09, 2008

food bank fill-up

I popped by one of my neighbourhood supermarkets to snag a couple of things this afternoon, and the food bank fill-up sponsored by one of the local radio stations was in full swing. They have food packages already made up of non-perishables that are reasonably priced. You can also donate any other canned or packaged non-perishable food. Last year I bought a couple of the packs and threw them in, but regretted it when I glanced at what was in them. This year I gave them the once over and then opted to create my own. The packs are full of crap! No-name instant macaroni dinners, salty soups, sugary juices . . . yuck. The nutrition student in me said no thanks! Just because times are tough and someone needs a little help from the food bank doesn't mean they should be (or want to be) eating junk that is definitely not nutritious. Instead I loaded up a basket with bags of brown rice, several varieties of dried beans, lentils, peas, and barley. I got twice as much (in weight) food in my basket for the same amount of money had I bought the pre-pack, and I left feeling good about the nutritional value of what I had donated.

Times are tougher this year, and the food bank needs help filling up. If you can't get to a donation location, you can go online and make a monetary donation. Every one dollar you donate turns into three dollars of food with the extra buying power afforded by the food bank. So drink one less bottle of wine, or eat one less dinner out, and make a donation that will really make a difference. Check out the basics for babies drive on the foodbank site as well.

Monday, December 08, 2008

update

This morning I picked up four dozen UBC Farm eggs to last (hopefully) through the holidays until they restart their regular campus sales. None of the cartons had my mark. Maybe they'll come back to me in 2009.

Back to chemistry.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

closing the loop

I've been lacto-ovo vegetarian now for over 15 years. Although I've never struggled with eating eggs baked into things, like cookies or muffins, I have had a fairly constant battle with egg, uninterrupted. Being a strong supporter of the local food movement, I have come to terms with the egg being my best source of locally available protein. As a rule, I now only eat eggs from chickens I have met. The words 'free range' or 'free run' on a carton of supermarket eggs are often very misleading, and I swear I can actually smell the difference between a supermarket egg and the egg of a chicken I have met, observed it living its life in a happily chickeny way, and can pay a gratitude to for the gift of proteiny goodness it has laid. During the summer months when we frequent our property on the Sunshine Coast the egg is not an issue. There are a few local 'egg people' who keep chickens in their yard and sell eggs from the front porch on the honour system. At this time of year when our visits to the coast become less frequent, I buy up as many cartons of eggs as I can while I'm there, and do my best to ration them until the next visit. Inevitably they run out, and I find myself facing the dreaded supermarket egg, and questioning whether I can stomach it or not.

No more.

Happily, the UBC Farm has started selling their eggs from the little food co-op in the SUB over the winter months. I have volunteered on the farm and met the resident chickens, seen the space they occupy and the chicken-ness of their existence, meandering around and scratching at the grounds for insects and worms. These chickens, whom I have met, produce eggs so tasty that during the farmers market season the folks at the UBC Farm restrict egg purchases to one carton per family, to make things fair. People line up well before the market opens, and still may not be lucky enough to get eggs. It's not a problem for me, because that's the season of my Sunshine Coast Egg Lady eggs, so I don't to compete for the UBC ones. But for now, I have a local happy chicken source of the gift of protein over the winter. I owe a gratitude to you, chickens. Thank you!

Another benefit of all of my egg sources is that they use reused egg cartons, so do not generate any waste. I save my empty egg cartons and take them back every once in a while, to close the loop. I have had a growing pile of empty egg cartons on top of my kitchen cupboard which was waiting for a trip to the coast. But what with work and school and exams around the corner, a weekend escape was becoming more and more of a pipe dream. So imagine my delight when I dropped by the SUB to snag a carton of eggs, and saw a sign saying that the UBC Farm is DESPERATE for empty egg cartons. Horray! So I've bagged them all up and will drop them off next week. Curious as I am about my role in closing the loop, I decided to mark the bottom of each carton I return. I want to see if my used cartons will come back to me, and how many times.

I will report back.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

help me!

If anyone can tell me (BEFORE Nov 27th, and with references I can cite) what range of light intensity (in lux) Gammarus setosus can tolerate, OR what the range of light intensity is in the natural habitat of G. setosus, OR even just what ranges of light intensities exist in the fucking ocean, I will give you one million dollars.*

Seriously. I can find this information nowhere. And I need it real real bad.

*I will give you no actual money. But I'll probably make you some dang good cookies and get them to you fresh and tasty wherever you may be.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

a special comment on prop 8 by Keith Olbermann

Thanks Kimberley for sending me the link to this clip from MSNBC. You're right, it is amazingly articulated. Watch it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

yes we can! but no you can't.

I watched President-elect Obama's acceptance speech last night with tears in my eyes. I, like many of you, was standing on the edge of hope. I hope this will change the world for the better. History has been made, progress has happened, a black man, who just 40 years ago wouldn't have been able to drink out of the same water fountain or sit next to a white person on a bus, is the next President of the United States. And how sad that on the same evening as such a wonderful achievement, the people of California, Florida, and Arizona voted yes to proposition 8, banning same sex marriages. I am sad beyond words over it. Progress is supposed to move forwards, not in the other direction. Yes we can.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

on the election

So, I voted yesterday. And today I'd like to tell you all what a bunch of B.S. I think it all was. Don't get me wrong - I'll always make time to vote and exercise my democratic right. It's the process that pisses me off.

Firstly, I think it's a bunch of crap that Steven Harper called this election, a full year before it was due, in the first place. $290 million tax payer dollars were spent on this fiasco, funding the slam campaigns, slanderous television ads, and incessant telemarketer style phone calls. I actually had to phone the campaign office of one of the major parties and let them know that the 5 - 7 phone calls per evening for four days straight was enough that they had lost our vote. And I had been truly leaning in their direction before that. Show me a political party that doesn't spend all of their resources telling me why the other guys are bad, rather who tells me what good they will do, and I'll vote for that party. On that note show me a politician who can carry on an intelligent debate, rather than name calling and finger pointing like six year olds in a school yard. Further, the fact that Steven Harper prompted this $290 million spend fest, and then built his campaign around 'staying true in the face of economic uncertainty' infuriates me beyond words. And now we have to look at his beady little yellow devil eyes and plastic Ken doll hair for another four years. I'm going to need a barf bucket.

Onward. What's with our electoral system? Okay, the Green Party got 6.8% of the popular vote, and got no seats. The Bloc got 10% of the popular vote, and got FIFTY seats. FIFTY! WTF!?? If 10% equals 50 seats, then surely 6.8% should equal SOMETHING. And maybe if it did, people wouldn't so much view voting Green as a wasted vote. I'm proud to be one of the 940,747 people who voted Green, whether it got them a seat or not. Speak up, people! Some of my other favourite parties didn't end up with any seats, or any percentage of the popular vote that added up to anything at all, but still . . . 2,319 proud Canadians voted for the Radical Marijuana party. And 2,263 voted for Neo Rhino party. Too bad neither of those had representation in my riding - the map of Canada really WOULD look more interesting in the shape of a rhino. Plus, although they promise to not keep any of their promises, the mandatory national gas barbeque registry and the guaranteed once a week orgasm sound pretty sweet too.

So why Green? I picked a list of four issues that were important to me, and then went on line and read the party platforms on each of those issues. It was a pretty close call between Green and the NDP, but then the NDP had to go and piss me off (see above incessant phone calls - which by the way must have worked, because the NDP did win our riding) so Green it was. Food security (support for family farms, banning terminator seeds, giving all farmers the right to save their seeds, creating seed banks of heritage seeds, creating space in supermarkets for locally grown food, implementing a 200km diet in school food programs, sustainable fisheries . . .), action on climate change, health care, and education were the issues near and dear to my heart. Plus as an added bonus, the Green party wanted to legalize marijuana (face it people, prohibition doesn't work), take the money it makes out of the hands of criminals, tax it, and put the money towards health care. Plus think of the millions the government would save by not trying to bust up all the little neighbourhood grow ops. Plus anyone who has ever been to Amsterdam knows how fucking civilized it is to go to a coffee shop and order a cappuccino and a doobie at 9am. Boo yah.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

world farm animal day

Today is world farm animal day. The very sad truth is that the majority of animal related food products (meat, eggs, dairy) come from animals living miserable lives in feedlots and factory farms. I don't believe in telling anyone what they should or should not eat, but I do believe in telling EVERYONE to THINK about where your food is coming from. If you are going to eat meat, choose meat from local small scale farms and do some research about the animal welfare choices they are making. Avoid ALL hormone fed animals (as much for your health as for theirs) and animals that are force fed feed that is not a natural part of their diet. Choose eggs from free range chickens that actually get to hang out outside and enjoy their chicken lives. Beware of supermarket labelling proclaiming free range and free run that is not necessairly what it says it is. Frequent farmers markets and develop relationships with the people who grow and raise the food they are selling you, who happily answer questions about how the animals were raised and what they were fed and even how they were slaughtered and processed.

Read good food books and educate yourself. Some of my favourites:

The 100 Mile Diet
The Omnivoire's Dilemma
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
In Defence of Food

And check out THIS page on Nicole's blog, where she has done the work of posting links to some great local small scale farms (and wineries!).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ahead of the game

First a thanks for all of the kind thoughts sent my direction when we said goodbye to Buddy. It was the hardest, saddest day, and I know it'll take some time to get over saying goodbye to a great friend of nearly 15 years. I want to blog my favourite Buddy memories, and I will when I'm ready to.

Secondly, I would like to cautiously brag about being ahead of the game. It took some serious catch up work after the first crazy two weeks of September with work being the total gong show it is at that time of year, but I did it. Now I'm reading way ahead in the text and sitting (in the front row) in class actually understanding the lectures. The problem sets are done waaaaay before the next one is even released, which gives me time for extra review problems, which is resulting in good marks on quizzes. Assignments are done way before their due dates, and the next ones started weeks ahead of time. I have barely a shred of a social life right now due to all of this extra work, but it feels so good I don't really care. It is with great trepidation I brag about being ahead of the game, because the last time I was in this position and feeling good and handing assignments in before they were due, THIS happened, and then I ended up horribly behind. Fingers crossed for no repeat incidents.

Monday, September 15, 2008

sleep well sweet prince




Buddy Trant, aka Mr. Bubbaroo

March 17, 1994 - September 15, 2008

May there be squirrels a plenty for you to chase.

Sleep well sweet prince, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

update! update! read all about it!

Ok, yes, I know it's been a while. Gentle prodding noted.

So, since my last post:

-Paul and I had two glorious weeks of holidays. It rained a lot of the time, but I'll take a rainy day at my cabin over a sunny day at work any day. We spent all of the holiday on the Sunshine Coast (not so sunny this time around), with three nights spent camping at glorious Saltery Bay, and the remainder at my family property. The camping was awesome - we've been keeping our eyes peeled for bigger tents on sale, and on the way to our camping trip we stopped at Canadian Tire and found an awesome and HUGE Coleman tent on sale. And when Canadian Tire puts things on sale they don't fuck around, this thing was a steal. I was resisting getting a new tent since we have a perfectly good and only used 4 times little tent, but Paul insisted and man oh man am I glad he did. It was so awesome having a tent big enough to stand up and walk around in, particularly when the weather went bad. On the second night of our camping trip we were joined by another couple, Lindsay and Renelle, and good times were had. Once back at my family property we settled into a routine of sleeping in, going for runs (even all out 400's on the track), eating apple fritters, watching DVD's, and taking our incontinent geriatric dog on as many walks as he'd tolerate (and as such only had 2 in the house pooping incidents).

-I said to myself (and a few others) that we'd have some wedding decisions made by the end of the camping trip, or we were putting it off a year. Decisions were made, troubles talked out, issues resolved. The wheels are in motion for a wedding on our family property August 8th, 2009. I have put a deposit down on the photographer, met with a caterer who is on board for my dream of everything local, sourced out a bartender, ordered our tents, tables, chairs . . . everything we have to rent, and visited a local flower farm to see what kind of blooms will be in season for August next year. Paul and I are in total disagreement about what kind of flowers to have, so 4 weeks away from the wedding when the things that would be available are starting to be ready we are each going to produce a center piece and have people vote on which one they like best. I am not stressed out about this at all - first of all, we're talking about flowers, which will be beautiful no matter what. They're flowers. Secondly, I am going to win. I've done wedding flowers before, I'm crafty, and I'm a girl. Nuff said.

-We came back to town a few days before school started so I could do a bunch of CPR recerts for nursing and med students - a business I run on the side. Business exploded this year and I had trouble keeping up with demand. It's starting to slow down a bit now, but did well for paying tuition and squirrling a little wedding money away. This bodes well for my next point . . .

-I have given my unofficial 10 months notice at work. Yep, thats right. As of June 30th (ish) I'll be an unemployed bum. I wasn't going to say anything for a while, but my boss asked me straight up and I wasn't about to lie to him, so there you have it. I'm hoping to support myself and pay the bills with contract work and the CPR biz on the side, and I'm contemplating maybe snagging a part time job somewhere where I'm not in charge and problems aren't my problem. Necessity is the motherhood of invention, so time to cut the chord and make shit happen. Plus Paul and I will be married shortly thereafter, and I'll be his problem if it doesn't work out. He he he.

-Work stared, school started, and I haven't had a day off yet. September is madly busy as we screen and hire new staff and kick off our programs. I think I worked nearly 80 hours last week AND went to school. I have workshops all this weekend so still another week before I get proper days off, but I'm taking a half day tomorrow to catch up on reading. Reminding myself how this time next year I won't have to deal with this chaos is helping to get me through. As is good dark chocolate (I am now addicted to coco camino's organic 71% spiced chocolate . . . ginger and chili. Yum!) and 'mommy's special medicine' as Paul likes to call it. You know what I mean. And I don't mean those little blue pills all mom's like to pop. You know yours does too. For shaky legs. Pfft.

-Saturday is the five year anniversary of our first date. FIVE YEARS!!! We were going to use our airmiles for a romantic getaway weekend to Napa Valley, but we're still recovering from Europe and the wedding ain't gonna be cheap, so we decided to stay in town and go out for a super fancy dinner and splurge on a great bottle of wine to have at home beforehand. I think it's working out way better this way - I'm so behind on my reading already I think my head might explode if I had to go away for the weekend. Napa will be there another time.

Ok, chemistry calls. And I just threw up in my mouth a little as I typed that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

wedding schmedding

The question I get asked most frequently these days is about how it's going with planning the wedding. The answer? Meh. Wedding planning is making me cranky, so I'm taking a break from it. It's just all so insane, and so expensive, and so much emotion is tied up with it. We don't have a venue, so we don't have a date, so I can't go ahead and book the amazingly talented (and very expensive) photographer I want to use.

On the one hand I feel like it would be financially irresponsible of us to have a wedding at all, being that Paul is only at the beginning of paying of some huge student loans, and I'm in my final year of working full time before becoming a full time student. We could take the wedding budget and squirrel it away for a future down payment, which seems like the responsible thing to do.

On the other hand I'm worried that if we don't have a wedding I'll feel bummed out about it, well, forever.

And then back to the first hand where I'm aware that weddings are a social construction and they don't really mean anything, and Paul and I can make a 'bigger' commitment to each other with out spending a whack of dough and doing it in front of a lot of people.

Yes it is a construction, and a silly one, but one that has become symbolic and meaningful and what other opportunity will we have to gather our friends and family together in this manner and publicly declare our commitment to one another.

Gah.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

story of my running life

For months, MONTHS I tell you, I have been dragging my ass out on these terrible horrible no good very bad runs. Awful runs, feeling like my legs were made of lead wrapped in concrete wrapped in some other ridiculously heavy construction material, just feeling low energy and shitty and bad. And yet still dragging myself out 3 - 4 times a week, partly with the mantra repeating in my head, "this will make you look good in your wedding dress, wedding dress, wedding dress . . ." and partly believing that a good run just had to be around the corner.

It finally came. I felt so good the whole time, good energy, light in the body, actually enjoying the run for the first time in months. It was glorious, and I could see other runs in the near future optimistically, seriously looking forward to my planned Sunday long run on the coast.

So obviously I woke up the next morning with this searing pain behind my knee, unable to fully straighten my left leg. *Sigh* Story of my running life. The good news is that thus far it appears to be muscular, so hopefully I'll be back at it before too long. Hopefully my comeback won't involve months of shitty runs again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

go go greens

Thanks to a blissful afternoon visit with my old friend Harmony on her parents 17 acre farm, and a weekend produce run to my favourite organic farm on the Sunshine Coast, I've been up to my ears in delicious nutritious local produce - greens in particular.

I'm glad the local food movement is gaining steam. Eating locally is so much better for our planet, our communities, and ourselves than trucking produce in. But wait, buying locally from farmers is so much more expensive, isn't it? Well yes, the up front cost can be more but hidden costs add up. Your tax dollars go towards subsidizing fuel write offs for big companies, so you actually could be paying significantly more than you think for that pale tasteless tomato bouncing along in a refrigerator truck from California, not to mention the nutrient loss that started the second that tomato was picked in it's sad under ripe state (it never really reached it's nutritional peak in the first place). Plus, buying directly from local farmers means that 100% of the profit goes back to them, rather than the meager 19% most farmers get for their efforts, and anyone who has ever tried their hand at growing food knows that the $3 your local farmer is charging for a bunch of organic carrots is a freaking bargain for the back breaking labour it took to get them into your grocery bag.

So back to those greens - I left Harmony's place with a huge bag stuffed full of swiss chard and kale, munching on some of it during my drive back into the city. The following day for lunch I made myself "eggs in a nest" from Barbara Kingsolver's latest book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. If you liked the 100 Mile Diet, you'll love this book too. You can get in line to borrow it from me when I'm done.

For the eggs in a nest you chop up some onion, carrots, garlic, and tomato. Her original recipe called for rehydrated dehydrated tomatoes because that's what she was working with at that time of year. I had fresh ones in the house, so that's what I used instead. So saute all of the above until slightly soft, adding the tomatoes near the end. Then take one really big bunch of swiss chard, roughly chop and add to the pan. Put a lid on it and let the chard wilt down a bit, then using a spoon make some hollows in the veg mixture, careful not to expose the pan. I made this dish for one, so I had to push all the veg in the middle of the pan and then make my hollow, but if you were making this for a bunch of people you'd have lots more stuff in the pan and would just go around the pan making little hollows where you could. Crack one free range egg you got from your favourite local egg source (for me the north road egg lady on the coast), and replace the lid. Allow the egg to poach amidst the greens and veg until it is done to your likeness. Barbara Kingsolver served this over brown rice, but I had quinoa in the fridge that needed to be eaten so I used that instead. This was one of the most delicious and nutritious lunches I've had in a while, and will be a repeat item in my house for sure.

With the kale I made a huge fritatta by chopping up this awesome sweet onion I got from the farm, bulb and greens and all, sauteing it in the pan and then course chopping the mass of kale I had and adding it in. Kale doesn't wilt down quite as much as other greens, so it took 12 egg lady eggs scrambled up with a touch of milk to cover it all. I let this cook on the stove top and then chucked it in the oven to cook for while in there. When nearly done I added sliced tomatoes and some grated cheese to the top (the only non local ingredient, but I'm working on that) and finished it under the broiler. It made 10 servings, and was yumolicious.

And now I'm ready for more greens!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

OMG

WHAT IF IT RAINS?????

My mother is getting to me.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

busy busy

Man oh man life has been busy! I feel like my summer is slipping away from me, but I am having a really good time. So, since my last post I have had a number of wedding planning related meltdowns, but have ultimately decided to take the que sera sera approach and believe things will work out. Nothing is set in stone at the moment, but save for the blessing of one uncle (and I don't think he'll say no) it looks like we'll be getting married August 15/09 on our family property on the Sunshine Coast. My mom is worried it might rain, and also that the property may have an unsightly pit of dirt where excavation for their new house is happening. I assured her that people would be looking at the bride, not the dirt pit. She may throw up a lattice and plant flowers to hide it. Whatever. I've been to try on wedding dresses one time, which was hilarious and fun and oh my good god there are some hideous and hideously expensive dresses out there. I am going to have my dress made by a girl I know from back as far as elementary school. It has to be custom made because I don't want to wear white, and the ladies at the dress store looked at me like I was on glue when I explained that by not white I don't mean ivory or cream. Anyways, I met with Laura, the dressmaker, yesterday and it turns out it is going to be considerably cheaper going this route, and I'll have the exact dress I want custom made for me. Yay! Other things that are working out include my god father, who is a judge, agreeing to marry us, and all of my most crafty friends offering their services at any time. Trust me ladies, your help will be enlisted.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

spain, in a nutshell

Leaving the tranquility of Finland for the chaos of Spain was a shocker for sure. Getting there was half the fun. I had booked these tickets online with some budget airline that no one had ever heard of before and we weren't entirely sure really existed. The tickets were so cheap (10 Euros return) we were mentally prepairing ourselves to have to rush around and try to get standby tickets on another airline. Plus our connection time was short considering we had to switch airlines, which meant collecting our bags off one airline, then rushing back to departures and checking in with another. It was very slow progress going through security in Helsinki due largely to what seemed like a blue rinse crowd tour we were stuck behind in line. Once we rounded the corner to the metal detectors and such, all became clear. There stood the better part of the blue rinse crowd chugging down the mickeys of hooch the security staff were taking out of their carry on luggage. It took a long time to get everyone through, but it was hilarious to watch. In spite of our flight leaving Helsinki late, we arrived in Amsterdam only a few minutes late and much to our delight as we were taxying to the gate we saw a whole cluster of airplanes with the logo of the budget airline I had booked with. It existed after all. Phew!

We arrived in downtown Barcelona at 10pm on Friday night - wow, what a nuthouse. We managed to find our hostel and dump our stuff, and then headed out to explore the night scene on las Ramblas. Coming from Helsinki which was so peaceful and always light, to Barcelona where it was dark and chaotic was a total shocker. But it was good. We set off to have a beer and some tapas at a restaurant right on las Ramblas where we knew we were going to get ripped off, but didn't really care. Then we needed to find Emily - my sister and her boyfriend Andy who live in London happened to have Saturday free, so they were flying to Barcelona on Friday night to have a short visit with us, returning to London Saturday evening. I admit it, our stellar plan of, "meet you in Barcelona Friday night . . ." wasn't well thought out and caused some problems, but in the end we found each other, and we had a great day of sight seeing together.

Things in Barcelona improved significantly for me once I acquired a set of earplugs and was actually able to sleep at all. We had three great days there of sightseeing, drinking, and eating. The weather was hot and sunny the whole time we were there. The best food definitely came from the market, and this held true all throughout Spain. After Barcelona we headed back to the airport where we picked up our rental car - a kicky Citroen C4 turbo diesel. I wasn't stoked on driving in Spain but Paul was still too injured to attempt to drive, so there I was doing the one thing I said I didn't want to do. We agreed that he would navigate and I would drive and if things got stressful we wouldn't snap at each other. I don't think either job was any less challenging than the others. The Spainish drive crazy, and the highways are market with several numbers and are quite confusing. Right away we took a wrong turn, which wouldn't have been a big deal except for the police had the exits blocked so not only could we not turn around, we sat for nearly an hour in stand still traffic. Still not sure what was going on, but eventually we got turned around and on the right road. The highways were expensive (nearly 40 Euros in tolls from Barcelona to San Sebasitan) but were fast and really nice to drive on.

We arrived in San Sebastian in the early evening and had to find a place to dump the car and then locate our hostel. We located it without much trouble, but the trouble was there was no one there to let us in. We sat outside for a while and then Paul left to try and call them. No answer. We were mulling over what to do and decided to check out some of the other places in the area. Paul left to go check out one that was reccomended in one of our two guide books, and while he was gone the hostel owner came back and was quick to get our bags inside and get us set up in one of the rooms. The place was very clean and modern inside, but was just rooms, no common area or anywhere to sit. The double room we were in ended up being bunk beds, which seemed fine but the room was too small to sit in or anything so the next day when some other people left he moved us into a triple room which had a bunk bed and another bed, and was much much bigger. Also had 2 balconies. San Sebastian was a nice change of pace from Barcelona. Still very beautiful and old and steeped in culture, but way less touristy. Not much english spoken there so we had to sharpen our questionable Spanish skills. I had a really hard time finding vegetarian food there and then ended up eating the same egg and potato fritatta on baguette style tapas over and over and over. Part of the problem was that our eating schedule didn't line up with the Spanish one, so while we were walking around at 7pm starving and trying to find a restaurant, none would open until 9pm. All a part of the Spanish learning curve. San Sebastian was also where we got engaged, so it was extra special there inspite of the weather, which was pretty crappy.

After three days we left San Sebastian and headed into la Rioja region to check out wine country. It was really beautiful - rolling hills with vineyards as far as the eye could see, and spectacular wine for a handful of Euros. We spent one night in Haro, the heart of la Rioja region. We arrived there in the middle of siesta time so the place was a bit of a ghost town, but come 5pm things livened up and we had a really nice night. We found a bunch of wine stores and managed to communicate that we were looking for some wine to drink now, and some to lay down for a few years. So far we haven't been dissapointed in any of them. 4 bottles came home with us. It would have been nice to have more than one day there to get an opportunity to check out the bodegas (wineries) but we needed to move on.

We left Haro and headed for the Pyrenees which was on Paul's list of must visit places, due largely to the Tour de France which always holds at least one stage in these mountains. Paul wanted to look up what the toughest climb would be in this year's Tour and then go spray paint something on the road, but instead we headed for l'Ainsa, a small town very close to the French boarder. We had pretty much just randomly picked it out of the tour book and didn't know much of it, but were pleasantly surpised when we got there. Getting there was quite the adventure. We took some wrong turns on the highways and ended up a bit lost, but once we got into the Pyrenees the road was easy to follow and amazingly challenging to drive on. I was going about 20km/hr for a large part of the drive, and Paul wasn't even telling me to go faster which said a lot about the sketchiness of the drive. Windy narrow mountain roads with crazy drops to the side, but spectacular scenery. Once in l'Ainsa we checked into our hotel and then asked the lady at the tourist office where a good spot for a picnic would be. She told us to walk up the stairs to the old town, and we did, and up at the top was a 13th century town! It was amazing to be sitting on the grass at the top of a mountain surrounded by such old beautiful (and well maintained) buildings looking down on the river canyon, eating cheese and drinking Spanish beer. What luck! We wandered through the village after our picnic, and then had a couple of glasses of wine on a restaurant balcony with the most spectacular views and no one around. Four glasses of wine cost us 4 Euros! It might have been a bit of a deal since I had to open the bottle for the bartender who had an injured hand, but still! Paul got to go for his altitude run in the Pyrenees, so he was a happy camper.

We left l'Ainsa a little earlier than planned because getting there from Haro had taken us so long and the drive was so sketchy, but we took a different road it was way shorter. We headed back to the Barcelona airport to drop of the rental car - I had had enough of driving in Spain and was not about to try to find a hotel when there was a free shuttle from the airport. We stayed the night at an airport hotel, which was relatively uneventful.

Up early the next morning and back to the aiport to catch our 9am flight to Amsterdam. After landing, getting our bags, getting the train to Amsterdam Central and finding our hotel, we enjoyed a day of pure gluttony. We went coffee shop hopping, then pub hopping, junk food hopping, checked out the red light district, more coffee shops, more junk food, walking around seeing the sights. It was a nice end to the trip.

On the flight home we were lucky enough to end up with a section three seats with no one in the middle seat, so that made the long daylight flight much more bearable. The trip was amazing, I had so much fun. Paul and I travelled really well together other than 1 small meltdown. Once I get the pictures uploaded to flickr I'll post a link. To all 746 of them. Yep.

It sucks to be back at work, but it's nice to be back in my own kitchen and bed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

news

Ok, so I have 10 days worth of travelling Spain to blog about, and that will come once the jet lag fades and the copious pile of work on my desk starts to dwindle. But for now, hot news! The mister and I are engaged!!! Yup, atop of Mont Igeldo on a grey day with little to no views of the city I was cluelessly meandering away from what he thought was the perfect spot and I called out to Paul to take a picture but he told me to wait and when I turned to hand him the camera there he was standing with a ring box in his hand. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, and I said heck yes!!!!

So there ya have it. Spain updates to come in due time, but that news was bursting out of me first!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

helsinki

Last Saturday May 31st after working a half day that turned into leaving only 10 min only, I came home from work and frantically packed my bags, and then we were off! We flew the red eye Vancouver to Amsterdam and then a quick transfer to another flight Amsterdam to Helsinki. The flights were relatively uneventful other than poor Paul barfing four times (once on me) and the flight attendants being relatively unconcerned (responding to our button push a good 30 min later when they were serving drinks). The airplane food was gross, but that's nothing new. Arrived in Helsinki Sunday afternoon and made our way to our downtown hotel. We're staying at Glo Hotel an awesome little boutique hotel with a lot of art and character, really central. It's of course way out of our budget, but this is the leg of the trip being funded by UBC, so we're enjoying the luxory while we can. If you can afford it, I highly reccomend it. Finland is expensive in general (the beer is cheap!) but we've managed to spend not very much money all things considered.

I had pretty much no expectations for Helsinki, and it blew my mind! The lightness is really amazing. This time of year it's light out and sunny and warm nearly 23 hours a day. Around midnight it gets a little dim for a while, but no darkness to speak of. The city is gorgeous, steeped in character and history, clean and safe, bustling but not crowded, the Fins are amazingly friendly, and English is spoken everywhere. The Finnish language is very complex - every letter is pronounced. For example Tuullikki, the name of a girl who showed me around on Tuesday - you need to pronounce both t's, both l's and both k's. Challenging for our western tongues.

Monday morning Paul was off to the conference. We had breakfast together at our hotel buffet which was incredible, and had all the fixings for sandwiches too, so we made some for our lunches (and have done this every day, so didn't have to pay for 2 meals a day) and headed in opposite directions for the day. Paul out to Espos, the suburb where the conference was being held, and I meandering around the city. I did a guided tour and learned a lot of Finnish history, and then wandered through the markets and some of the historic buildings. Back to the hotel to try and nap off the jetlag, which proved extra challenging with it being light 23 hours a day. Paul returned around 5pm and had a brief nap, and then we headed out to meet Jens and Antti (Antti is a Finnish boys name, you need to say both the t's) who are in Paul's research group at UBC (Antti is also in my brother's fraternity and comes from a small town in northern Finland but has been at UBC the last few years . . . small world). We went back to the conference site to go to a wine and dine (more like wine and salad for me - vegetarian eating has been somewhat challenging here) with the conference people. Paul shook hands with the Finnish prof who was the external examiner for his PhD.

Tuesday I got up and went for a run with Paul, and discovered the window where I thought I'd be a faster runner than him has already closed, broken bones and everything. Back to the hotel for breakfast and sandwich making, and then he headed to the conference and I headed to meet Tuullikki, a girl friend of Antti's who he had arranged to take me around for the day. She was really kind and showed me around Helsinki's design district - some really cool and really expensive clothes, particularly once you translate Euros into Cdn dollars. In the evening Paul and I met up with Antti and Jens and some of Antti's friends and we went to a Finnish restaurant. My stomach had been bugging me till this point so we stopped at a pharmacy where Antti translated between me and the pharmacist and eventually I left with some Tums type thing. We came home early to bed totally exhausted.

Wednesday I went out to the conference with the boys and watched Paul give his talk. I realized that Paul had been getting a much worse deal - he's been at this conference listening to lectures on paper physics and I've been gallivanting around my new favourite European city. After the talks Paul, Jens, Antti, Juha (another Fin who did a stint at UBC a few years ago) and I got some Finnish beers and drank them in the park, then met up with the rest of the conference congregation and went on an hour boat trip from Espos to a little island (can't even begin to spell it) near downtown Helsinki where there is an old sea fortress built by the Swedes when they controlled Finland, and conquered by the Russians. We had a guided tour and then a banquet in the inner most fortress. The banquet hall was stunning, but the meal was among the worst any of us had ever eaten. There was lots of wine though.

Thursday Paul finally had a day to go sight seeing. We went for a run in the morning to the Olympic Stadium built in 1938 for the 1940 games, but war broke out in 1939 so it wasn't used till 1952. There is a tower you can go up and get a great view from. We went up, but my acrophobia took over and I went right back down after a quick look. After showers and breakfast I took Paul around downtown and showed him all the cool things I've discovered, and then we went and had a treat at Helsinki's oldest bakery where they used to make pastries for royalty. We met up with Jens for a drink at a bar literally on the roof of another hotel which has a great 360 view of all of Helsinki, and then out for a decent dinner.

If Helsinki and nordic Europe hasn't been on your list of places to visit, put it on! This place has really been amazing and I am genuinely sad to leave it. We will be back for sure. We leave this afternoon back to Amsterdam and then on to Barcelona, where my sister is going to meet us for a 22 hour visit! More adventures to come. . .

Saturday, May 31, 2008

we're leaving on a jet plane . . .

Yep. A Europe we will go go. We leave this evening and fly the red eye from Vancouver to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to Helsinki, Finland. Paul has a conference in Helsinki that he could not be talked out of going to, and the trauma docs gave him the green light to fly after a nice x-ray of his lungs, so off we go. We will be in Helsinki from June 1st to 6th. I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do while Paul is busy nerding it up with the other paper physics geeks, but I'm sure I'll find something. Finnish soap operas anyone? One night we're booked onto a boat cruise around the Baltic Sea which is supposed to be quite stunning.

On the 6th we fly back to Amsterdam, and then hop on another flight from Amsterdam to Barcelona, Spain, which I managed to secure for a whopping 10 Euros each. Return. Plus taxes and shiz, so it worked out to 200 Euros for the two of us round trip. We have three nights booked in Barcelona and then we rent a car and are going to drive to San Sebastian where we have four nights booked. After that we have three nights unaccounted for until we have to be back in Barcelona for June 15th for a 9am flight back to Amsterdam. We're not sure where those three nights will take us, we've agreed to just wing it and see how it goes. Then just over 24 hours to chillax in Amsterdam and enjoy the cafes and the botanical gardens Cammy is insisting we see. Cafe first, gardens second. Understood. Then flying back home, arriving back some time the afternoon of June 16th.

I have to admit, I'm more nervous about this trip then I ever have been about travelling in third world countries. After surviving being trapped in a sinking boat and stuck in the middle of a military coup, I'm pretty sure I can handle pretty much anything travelling decides to throw at me, but this broken man of mine I'm not so sure about. I guess I'm nervous about his pain tolerance while sleeping in strange beds without his special bed contraptions (way too big to take with us) and while sitting in airplane seats for long periods of time and rickety rental cars. And I'm nervous about having to lug his luggage around the pedestrian only parts of San Sebastian trying to find our hotel which may or may not exist according the reviews on the website we booked through. I'm packing extra light with a wheelie bag that can be converted to a backpack so I can take over handling his stuff if need be. It's all apart of the fun of travelling, so whatever, we'll just roll with it.

I've got my money belt (with no actual money to put in it . . . hello overdraft, my name is Katie . . .) and my airplane pillow and two books on Spain and "Spanish for Dummies" audio CD's to listen to on my ipod and we've got a shit load of ativan and funky narcotics, so yeah. Whooohoo!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

getting back to it

I suppose I should have posted an update sooner, but time is of a premium these days and blogging took a low priority. Shocking, I know.

Paul is back at home now, which is great and also certainly has it's challenges. I stayed on medical leave last week to be home and provide care and help where needed, but I will go back to work next week. Paul is approaching his recovery with the same intensity with which he approaches all things he is serious about - the same intensity that saw him finish his PhD in less than 4 years, among other things. So watch out world, he's coming at ya! We've had an OT come in and do a home assessment and have been outfitted with all kinds of things to make it easier for him to be independent . . . bath seat, hand held shower, bed rail, bed lift wedge thing. Yep. We're officially octogenarians. And so good looking.

It seems the pain from having the surgery is wearing off, and so he's starting to feel all of the other things, like the 7 broken ribs, 2 fractured vertebrae, and all of the little fractures and bone fragments around his broken scapula and collarbone that they did not repair, letting time and the body do their jobs instead. We saw the trauma team again last week for a follow up chest x-ray, and the verdict was that the pneumothorax and hemothorax have resolved (thanks largely to the chest tube that was in for 3 days, and Paul's mega healthy lungs) which is really good news. Tomorrow we see the orthopaedic team again, and look forward to hearing what they have to say about pain management and starting rehab.

We documented pretty much everything with photos from lying in hospital beds to bandage changes. Out of respect for Paul's privacy I'm not going to post them on this blog, but you can check out the one he posted on his blog if you're interested in seeing him at his worst (still pretty dang cute if you ask me).

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

baby steps

Paul is still in hospital, and seems to be making good progress. His surgery yesterday took longer than expected, but the surgeon felt it went well. He now has screws holding his scapula together and a metal plate on his clavicle, as well as a temporary hose coming out of his chest draining an impressive amount of fluid from around his lungs. This will hopefully come out sometime tomorrow. He managed to stand a few times this morning (turned a magnificant shade of green the first time), and went for a walk up and down the hall in the afternoon. Since the right side of his upper body doesn't work at all right now, we are getting to know each other VERY intimately. He started eating today. Two bites of muffin in the morning, two mouthfulls of spaghetti at lunch, and a few slurps of soup at dinner. He's doing well with fluids, although nausea is still a problem. Probably all the meds.

He may be coming home by the weekend, which will be nice for both of us. I can't seem to relax unless I'm at the hospital, in spite of being completely exhausted and living off of take out and vending machine food. It only just occured to me this evening that once he's at home, there won't be any nurses. Just me. Shit man. Mental list of things to do being compiled. Work has been good about giving me time off on medial leave. I got a message that they were working on covering next week for me too which I didn't really think would be necessary until I started to think about Paul coming home, and now I'm pretty sure it will be. I'll take it day by day.

Paul is the strongest person I know physically and mentally. I have no doubt he'll recover well and swiftly. It is hard to see him like this though.

Monday, April 28, 2008

life happening

The post I was composing this morning while enjoying my first full blissful day off, no studying, not a care in the world, was derailed. I got a call from the hospital just after noon letting me know that Paul was there after being hit by a car on his bike. I have dreaded this call for the nearly five years we've been together. So off to the hospital I rushed - luckily we live only 4 blocks away, so rushing to the hospital can be done in short order.

He is currently stable, but has multiple broken ribs, broken clavicle, broken scapula (shoulder), some fractures along his spine (which don't seem to be of much concern), a punctured lung, and blood pooling around and in his right lung with is making breathing difficult. He also had some trauma to his head and has a concussion, but it seems his helmet did it's job, and he is really lucky as far as this is concerned.

After many x-rays and CT scans, the orthopedic people have decided they need to operate to repair his shoulder tomorrow. The socket in which the ball sits is cracked and has shifted, so that needs to be realigned and will be held in place with a screw. Since they are already going in there, they have also decided to repair his collar bone, which wouldn't normally be done, but what the heck. He will also need a tube put in his chest to drain out the blood and air putting pressure on his lungs. Surgery is booked for around 9am on Tuesday.

He is currently in an acute trauma unit, but I believe after the surgery he will be moved to a different trauma unit. Paul will likely be in hospital for the next 4 days or so. I would not recommend visiting until Wednesday, depending on how his recovery from surgery goes tomorrow.

I will update as frequently as I can.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April Snow

I woke and saw
That softly, in the night
Sweet April lost her way!
And o’er the ground
A soft snow had fallen,
Displacing balmy showers-
So long a token of the
Fair freshness of nature’s
Wakening month.
Yet, lying ‘neath the fond
Caress of winter’s parting gift
We know the buds and green
Of spring will burst forth
Even more aglow
Vibrant with beauty!
From their rest
Beneath the snow.

Valerie Morrison
1917-2007

Saturday, April 19, 2008

bill c-517: mandatory labelling of GE food

This post is copied with permission from my dear friend Harmony's blog. This is a very important issue near and dear to my heart. Thanks Tro!

. . . . .

I urge you all to get involved in this very important issue. GMO foods are undertested and owned by major corporations who (yes, corporations are legally a who and not a what...scary) wield their power to destroy the lives of farmers in Canada and many parts of the world. You have the right to be able to make an informed choice about what you put in your and your childrens' bodies.

Please follow the actions suggested by Greenpeace on this site to pressure federal MPs to vote for the mandatory labeling of GMO foods, which may lead to a ban on them in Canada altogether. As of now, if you buy non-organic soy, wheat, corn, animal products, canola, yellow zucchini, potatoes, flax or cotton, you are likely paying for GMOs. The global food crisis is being worsened by this phenomenon, which seeks to limit nature's bounty to a few corporate owned Frankencrops.

Get involved! Everyone is needed for this, and we are so close to achieving victory.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

sesame maple roasted tofu

1 tsp canola oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 medium onion, diced
1 brick o' firm tofu
1 Tbsp tahini paste
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Preheat your oven to 450. Dice up your fu into 1 inch cubes. Toss with canola oil, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and onions. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast in oven for 15-20 min, until tofu and onions are starting to brown. In the mean time, whisk together remaining ingredients into a delish sauce. Remove tofu from oven, toss with sesame maple sauce, return to oven and roast another 8 min or so.

I've made this recipe a few times, and it's always been tasty but the sugars in the maple syrup burn and stick to the pan, so you sorta have to scrap everything off and get lots of burnt bits in with your tofu. Last night I had the genius idea to put the whole thing on parchment paper, so I did, and it was fantastic. The maple sauce still burned a little where it was in a puddle around the outside, but that was easily removed and the tofu turned out so fantastically delish.

I served it hot over a nice big spinach salad. Yum yum.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

fueled by chocolate milk

Big whopping congratulations to UBC swimmers Brent Hayden, Brian Johns, Annamay Pierse, Tanya Hunks, and Savannah King for making the 2008 Olympic team. These are five incredibly talented athletes and really nice people who have worked hard for this. Must be all that chocolate milk they guzzle as a recovery drink after each workout. Research came out suggesting that chocolate milk was the perfect recovery drink for endurance athletes, what with it's high levels of protein and the additional sugars from the chocolate. And it's deliscious. So the UBC swim team jumped on that bandwagon and started chugging down chocolate milk after every workout, and even one time showering in it. I'm not even joking about that.

Last week I managed to 'acquire' a case of chocolate milk of my own during a huge intramural event on campus which seemed to be sponsored in part by the chocolate milk people, whoever they are. Everyone was walking around with a bottle or two of milk, but I wasn't having any of that nonsense so I marched over authoritatively, picked up an entire case, and walked away. I've since discovered that chocolate milk is good in everything. And by everything I mean in my tea, and straight up, which are the two ways I've consumed it so far. I have big plans for chocolate banana smoothies and chocolate french toast on the weekend (note to self, buy nutella before weekend), and I'm sure it'll get twisted into some sort of tasty alcoholic drink after classes are done. Who am I kidding, after 10am today. I get up early, ok. My 10am is your 3pm.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

coming out

Although Paul and I have been living common law for four years now, we have never claimed it on our taxes.
Until now.

I figured we better because I've claimed him as my spouse on my extended benefits through work, and with the recent transfer to a new payroll system I had to sign about a gazillion papers verifying our common law status. It would catch up with us sooner or later. Actually, last year when we added his MSP coverage to my benefits plan, we both got letters from the government suggesting that our health care coverage didn't line up with our taxes, and we had better phone them and deal with it. Which we never did. So yeah.

Plus we realized I could claim his unused educational amounts, which beefed up my refund by over $800. Thanks Paul!

So the deal was, he'd transfer the education amount to me so long as I agreed to use that $$$ towards the trip to Europe he wants me to come on. Paul has a conference in Helsinki for four days in early June, which sees his flight to Europe, and the accommodation in Helsinki already paid for. The plan is I go with him, and after the conference we go to Prague for a few days, and then to Spain where we'll pick a couple of spots to chill out in for 10 days or so before heading home. Nice little holiday partially funded by UBC. And more funded by UBC once they get around to reimbursing me for my tuition this semester (another part of my benefits package - 12 credits a year of free tuition).

There it is. We've officially come out to the government.

And Paul, for the first time in his 33 years, did his own taxes.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

final stretch

The semester is nearly over. Eight days of classes left, including today. One research paper, two homework assignment, two problem sets, and one quiz to get through in the next eight days. Then classes are done, and I can just come to work, go home after eight hours and nap if need be, then study without being so tired the words I'm trying to read are swimming on the page.

I have reached the point in the semester, as I do every semester, where I somehow lose the ability to feed myself. I just run out of steam and rather than cook dinner or pack lunches, I eat crackers. I can't seem to deal with anything else, and it's horribly counter productive because I don't get fueled with the nutritious foods I need to keep myself going through exams. My strategy this semester was to plan ahead, and make healthy foods in bulk during periods of higher energy. I've got a bunch of lasagna individually portioned and waiting in the freezer, as well as a large batch of soup. Last weeks Green Quinoa got me through at least 5 days of lunches. I made up a huge batch of three bean and wild rice salad which will be another good grab and go high fibre high protein solution, and Paul whipped up a mean batch of borscht on Sunday which is portioned and frozen as well. Broccoli is cut up and waiting to be tossed into the steamer for an iron rich addition to any lunch or dinner, and a double batch of bran muffins is on stand by for breakfasts. Fruit is cut up and portioned into daily servings in the fridge, where yoghurt and a handful of frozen blackberries can be added at the last minute. I also got a gift certificate good for many of the AMS run food outlets in the student union building for participating in a focus group, so worst case I can go and *gasp* buy myself a sandwich.

I can survive eight more days.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

turn off your lights!



Tonight from 8-9pm is Earth Hour. Help take action against climate change by turning out your lights for the hour. Light some candles, go for a walk, or engage in some heat creating "activity" in the dark.

www.earthhour.org

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

green quinoa

I came in to work this morning to find a big note written on the fridge which read, "One month of university to go. We can ALL do this."

It was uplifting. Last week I was contemplating cutting my losses and withdrawing from my classes, and quite frankly, the only thing stopping me was knowing I'd have to go back and do these classes all over again. So I keep plugging.

Anyways, I have an awesome recipe to share with y'all. Green Quinoa. Paul and I frequently make Green Rice, which is a tasty dish of brown rice cooked with sauteed onions and garlic, and then simmered in a veg broth with roasted seeded jalapenos, and finished with fresh cut cilantro stirred in. Mmmmmm. Back in the fall I snagged a couple of big bags of jalapenos from my favourite organic farmer on the Sunshine Coast, processed them en mass, and froze them in ice cube trays. Now when I get a hankering for the green rice dish, it's as easy as pulling a jalapeno cube out of the freezer and I'm ready to go. Paul loves cilantro, and so buys a bunch a week - more than we can possibly go through - I've decided I need to find a good cilantro pesto recipe (Liminal?) which I can freeze to deal with the excess. Last week as a part of the sustainability fair at UBC, they were selling some produce from the UBC farm, and among other things (purple broccoli, purple flowering broccoli, cabbage) I snagged a bag of organic spinach. Which meant I had 2 bags of spinach at home, again more than we could eat in salads until it started to wilt. What to do with all of that spinach? I contemplated soup, but couldn't find a recipe I liked, and then ultimately stumbled upon another, and somewhat different, green rice recipe. Being the meddler I am I gave it the old switcharoo and made it my own. I subbed in quinoa for the rice, added cubed tofu, and used one of my jalapeno cubes (yes, there was a point to all of those side snippets). So here it is - a protein and amino acid rich, chlorophyll heavy green dinner for everyone.

Green Quinoa:

1 med onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach, washed and stemmed
1 bunch cilantro, washed
2 1/2 cups veg broth
2 jalapenos, 1 seeded*
1 1/2 cups quinoa, washed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 brick tofu, cubed

*I used one cube of my previously roasted, seeded, and pureed jalapenos, which is roughly equivalent to 2 peppers.

Put spinach, cilantro, jalapenos, and one cup of broth in a blender, and puree to liquefy. I found I had to add the greenery in several installments and needed to add a little more broth to keep things going, but it did become a wonderful bright green liquid in the end. In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and quinoa, and saute for a couple of minutes. Add green liquid, and remaining broth. At this point I also tossed in a half a brick of tofu, cubed. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Once mixture is boiling, cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 min. After 15 min turn off the heat, but leave covered and let stand for 10 min. Fluff with fork, and season if desired. Mine needed a tiny touch of salt, but that was it.

So nutritious, so delicious, and so green. I've got green quinoa for lunch today. Mmmmmm.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

for those of you who don't know

Getting up at 4:30am sucks. Five days a week, for five and a half years. S. U. C. K. S. Ugh.

I probably wouldn't be so cranky about it, except I'm coming off a glorious four day weekend where not only did I stuff my face with food and wine, but I also got to sleep in until blissful 9am in a wonderful dark and quiet place.

Now back to reality. And three more weeks of classes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hijacked Future

The following is a blurb about a documentary which will be aired on Saturday March 22nd on Global TV. If you're in Vancouver, that's channel 11 at 7pm. If not, check your local listings and find out where/when it's playing. Everyone should watch this. I've included the trailer down below.

It’s 7 am: Do you know where your toast came from?

Eating breakfast toast: a simple ritual to start the day. The bread probably came from a bakery or grocery store, but beyond that who knows where the wheat came from – never mind the seeds that grew the wheat. Do we need to know? A new documentary, “Hijacked Future” says yes, because those seeds that became the toast you ate this morning are being hijacked - right into a looming world food security catastrophe.

Catastrophe? Wait a minute. We see plenty of food on our supermarket shelves. Is our food security really at risk – or is this just scare mongering from the fringe?

While our industrial system of agriculture is providing abundance and variety today, this Global Currents documentary warns us that it’s an unsustainable system that will not be able to nourish and provide for us and our grandchildren in the future. It’s a system that literally runs on oil, from fertilizers and pesticides, to the trucks and planes that transport food. And the source of our food – seeds – is being hijacked by a handful of corporations from the farmers who have for millennia, grown and saved them.

But why should we care about a farmer’s seeds? Aren’t companies developing new seeds all the time? They are -- and that’s part of the problem -- because who controls the seeds, controls our food. More and more, that control is in the hands of a few multinational corporations whose bottom line is profit for their shareholders not necessarily an abundance of healthy food. Should anybody, the film asks, own seeds?

“Hijacked Future” takes us from the grain fields of Saskatchewan, to farmers and seed banks in Ethiopia, to north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, where the “Doomsday” vault is being built to stockpile seeds in the event of a global crisis.

The documentary looks at the increasingly fragile base of our North American industrial food system in order to bring all of us consumers of food to a better understanding of just what’s at stake with our daily bread. It asks us to question the wisdom of a system precariously based on oil and corporate seeds while we’re at the same time witnessing the impact of climate change.

As the film says, “It all starts with the seed, and the stakes are high… because who controls the seed, controls the food… Who will control the seeds we plant, and the food we put on our tables?” Will our future be…Hijacked?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy 98th Birthday


Or 14th, if you're going in people years. Yup, Mr. Bubbaroo is having a birthday today. He's a good two years beyond the long end of the average life expectancy for his breed, seems to have selective deafness (can't hear you telling him to do something, but can hear the food bin opening), barks at things that aren't there, "forgets" the rules, and poops all over the place. He's always got a smile on his face and a wagging tail, and is always ready to give his favourite people awesome hugs and snuggles. When he gets really excited, he sneezes continuously. He'll eat anything except celery and raw onions, and is an expert at peeling bananas. He'll do anything to chase a squirrel, including jumping out of the back window of a moving car. He is the best dog of all time. Happy birthday Buddy!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

two things

Two things to tell y'all.

First, I'll draw your attention to this post from May 2006, which I poached from Anne's blog:

"I’ve added a couple of new links to my blog. Just wanted to do some introductions.

The first, Liminal Me, is one of my sisters and a groovy gal.

The second, Katie the Mermaid Girl, is a friend and great knitting instructor.

Just for the sake of drawing some random and unnecessary connections, they are both vegetarians. Liminal Me recently did her first triathlon and Mermaid Girl is a swimmer and a runner. Both love to cook, both spend a lot of time on the same campus, and they live within four blocks of one another. And yet…. they’ve never met. They move in parallel universes. Dramatic, but true."

Well now we have! Liminal Me and I crossed paths yesterday afternoon in our neighbourhood wine shop. I saw who I thought she was, and took a chance sounding like a complete weirdo if she wasn't by asking if she was Liminal Me. After a couple of seconds of her looking blankly at me (and me feeling like a bit of a weirdo), she said, you're Katie! and gave me a big hug. We gabbed in the shop for the better part of half an hour or so, before going on with our days.

It was great to finally meet you in the flesh, Liminal, and I hope you enjoyed your wine!

Second, I had the BEST Saturday night last night. One apartment all to myself, one bottle of one of my favourite standby wines (Elderton Friends Cabernet Sauvignon), one small take out pizza, and five, yes five back to back episodes of Grey's Anatomy. Mmmmmm. Guilty pleasures.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

mayonnaise dilemma

I've been reading the Omnivore's Dilemma, both for personal interest and for school, and the book is blowing my mind. It's really well written and thoughtful, and is examining all aspects of the food industry.

As a result of the part of the book about corn and how it is broken down and reconstructed into everything from oils and sweeteners to adhesives and building materials, I've decided to try my best to stay away from processed foods. I never considered myself to be someone who consumed a lot of processed foods, and I guess I figured that as a vegetarian I was probably eating more or less good food most of the time. I definitely have an Yves addiction that needs to be dealt with, and the list of ingredients on my favourite vegetarian chick'n nuggets is making me cry. Corn, corn, corn.

Don't get me wrong, I love corn, corn is not the enemy. USDA polices forcing so called commodity crop (corn and soy mainly) farmers to grow more and more for less and less money, and at an increasing cost to our eco system (turning crude oil into fertilizers and pesticides isn't a good idea?) are the bad fellas. Corn grown sustainably for eating (rather than being processed) is awesome.

So I've been replacing my more processed than I had ever imagined sandwich slices with organic smoked tofu, making edamame salads with organic non GMO soy beans, eating nuts, beans, and organic free range eggs for protein. I'm trying to eat my food as whole as possible as often as possible. On Sunday, which in our house is dessert night, I made an angel food cake from scratch. This was previously the only cake I'd ever make from a mix, and now with a little help from Martha Stewart, I've learned that it is only marginally more time consuming to make one from scratch, and way more tasty. I'm not saying I'll never eat processed foods, hello, a veggie pepperoni pizza on a treat night, and I'm not going to throw away the ground round and nuggets in my deep freeze, but I'm doing my best.

So mayonnaise. I don't eat a lot of it, but sometimes I like a thin scraping in my sandwich or in my egg salad sandwich. It's also a dang tasty fry dip, and you know it. Yesterday I was telling this lady in one of my classes that I had to get home to attend to my yoghurt culture - I've been making my own yoghurt for over a year now. It has 2 ingredients; milk and some starter from the last batch of yoghurt. It's sooooo much better than commercial yoghurt with their yucky thickeners and shiz. Anyway, she says to me that she's never made yoghurt, but she makes her own mayo. I told her that I'd be open to making my own mayo except for my phobia of raw eggs, and she pointed out that there was raw eggs in the store bought stuff, plus a gazillion other processed ingredients. Somehow coming from a jar made me feel better about the rawness of the eggs, and I figured they must have been heat processed in some way to make them safe to eat. I don't know. Making it myself using local organic free range eggs is obviously going to be better for both my body and the planet than buying it in a jar. But there will be raw eggs. Yuck. I guess if I want to eat mayo occasionally I had better get my head around this thing.

Sigh.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

deconstructing the muffin myth

Muffins are, I think, an unfortunately misunderstood food. Misunderstood in that many people will grab a muffin from a coffee shop, bakery, grocery store, whathaveyou, honestly believing they are making a healthy choice. Sadly, most of the time they are not. The majority of these manufactured muffins are deceptively loaded with fats and sugars and are lacking in fibre. When spending some daily calories on the muffin, we may as well be eating a nice piece of cake. Really, we pretty much are.

I want to deconstruct the muffin myth, and reconstruct the identity of the muffin into what it should be - nourishing, filling, low fat, high fibre, healthy. My goal: reconstruct 100 muffin recipes. Or perhaps 99, since my bran muffin recipe will definitely get tossed in the mix. I'm going to need muffin testers, recipe testers, and recipes. If you have a muffin recipe (or just a type of muffin)you love and wish it was something healthier, but just as tasty or tastier than it already is, fire it in my direction and I'll tinker with it. If you love to bake and you want to help me test out the new recipes, let me know and I'll fire them in your direction and welcome feedback. If you love to eat muffins (hehe) let me know and if you're local, I'll give you some muffin samples for you to scrutinize.

Let the muffin revolution begin!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Christa Giles!

For Pete's sake, update your friggen blog!

Don't you know that blog checking on the company dime is what gets me through the day?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

killing time

This post comes to you as I am killing time waiting for the touch up pink dye to set in my streaks. My lovely fella was kind enough to don a pair of gloves (swiped from work, of course) and re-apply the magic stuff. Everyone in the know (ok, two people in the know - my hair dresser and previously hot pink streaked SIL Cammy) told me I'd have to be redoing the streaks after about two weeks. Well, it's been four. My hair defies you all. The bits of pink closer to my scalp maintained their alarming hot pinkness, but the tips gradually faded out from hot pink to orange to a soft baby pink to nearly blond. After the touch up I've still got half a bottle of the pink goop left, so I figure I'm good for two more doses and then my hair will have to be dyed back to my natural colour. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll go crazy with some other funky do. I've got years and years of not colouring my hair to make up for here!

So this week has been reading week - ostensibly a time to spend reading those textbooks and catching up on assignments and shiz. Not me. I spent the week taking an 8am-4pm five day long first aid course. Why, you ask? Don't I have first aid coming out of my wazoo? Well yes I do, as a matter of fact. This course was a prerequisite for another course I am going to be taking in March which will enable me to teach yet another course. Much of the course I just finished up with (well not yet - practical exam 7:30am on Monday) was pretty mundane and stuff I can do in my sleep, but the instructor was mega cute and did a good job of tolerating my incessent inter-agency questions (but in aquatics we do this . . . ). Many of the other folks in the class had never taken any first aid course before, so it was a really interesting range of abilities. There was only one day I wished I wasn't there, and the post written exam beers on Friday from the brew pub downstairs were dang tasty.

Today is my Dad's birthday. Once I rinse the pink dye out of my hair we're heading over to the folk's place for dinner. I made an edamame salad, which was a recipe I was trying to replicate from taste memory alone from something someone picked up at a deli and brought to a potluck one time. I also made a delish double decker carrot cake with cream cheese icing. This was Dad's reqest, and how could I possibly say no? Particularly when I'm going to be asking for his help fixing the sliding bathroom door I busted off it's runners by kicking it when I was mad the other day. Happy birthday Dad!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy v-day

Veggie day, that is. Today marks for me 15 years as a vegetarian! To celebrate, I thought I'd blog my answers to two of the most common questions I get about being a vegetarian.

1. Why are you a vegetarian?

Well, to be honest the reasons have evolved over the years. Meat always grossed me out. Gristle, fat, veins, whatever, I thought it was gross. I started making the connection with the hunk of meat on my plate and the living thing it once was, and I could eat it no more. I made a new friend who was vegetarian, and I thought that was cool so I decided to do it too. At my friends Sasha and Melanie's 14th birthday party, I decided I was a vegetarian, and after a few days of mishaps with pepperoni pizza and KFC popcorn chicken, I really was. I have not intentionally eaten meat ever since.

The easiest way for me to explain why I am a vegetarian is this - I don't believe in loving one animal and eating another. I believe and animal is an animal is an animal. There are some animals which have been socially constructed as more acceptable to eat than others. It drives me bonkers when I hear omnivores saying things like, "oh I could never eat (insert cute cuddly animal of choice here), that would just be wrong!” I think if you're going to eat one, you should be open to eating them all. I also think that most meat eaters are hideously detached from what they're actually eating. Those sterile styrofoam trays of meat in the supermarket don't really leave people with the true image of what it is. I have the utmost respect for my uncle's fiancée and her kids, who eat the cattle they raise. I have absolutely no difficulty understanding what I am eating when I am looking at an eggplant or a soybean. It is what it is.

Then there are the ethical reasons - the factory farms and the conditions those animals are raised in, the amount of land it takes to grow feed for animals vs. the amount of land we could be feeding people from, the hormones those animals are given, the waste seeping into water systems surrounding big productions. Yuck.


2. I could never be a vegetarian, isn't it hard?

Umm, no. Picture the food you find the most repulsive, that you never want to eat. Do you have a hard time not eating that food? Me neither.

I'm not one of those militant vegetarians who tries to force it on everyone around me. I don't believe in pushing my beliefs on other people, and I expect to not have theirs pushed on me. Paul is an omnivore, and we live and eat together in harmony. It's not an issue unless people make it one.

So have a happy V-day. Eat your veggies!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

snippets from project poop

Finally today my mom was released from hospital. This evening found her finally on her way home, to what I'm sure are much more comfortable digs. The nursing staff will be brilliant when Pamela is at home practicing her undergrad nursing skills. They will be questionable at best when it's just Mom and Dad on their own.

During her stint in the hospital, Dad sent out daily (sometimes multiple times daily) progress reports to friends and family. Over the last 6 days or so the reports had a common theme - poop; or lack thereof. Anyone who has had surgery, or hurt themselves significantly enough to require the fun pain killers, knows what they can do to your GI tract . . .

I've pasted some of my favourite snippets from my Dad's emails. They will probably be mostly hilarious to people who know him, but the rest of you may appreciate the humour I find in having a surly old Dad stuck as the primary caregiver of my largely immobile and consipated mother, and 14 yr old incontinent dog . . .


"Heather's project for tomorrow is to have a BM, mine is to be not
there for it."

"Arrived @ 11:00 AM to find H on phone (what else is new), sitting
on bed waiting for the elusive BM. Took her for a long walk then had
to scoot (rush, hurry, run) back for the blessed event. She was not
pleased with the event; or lack there of."

"Heathers main problem at this point is her lack of having a BM.
She took 5 doses of 'Lactulose' to no effect; a hospital record I
think. An intermediate solution, that was partially successful was a
hydraulic wash out."

"I am still optimistic that Heather will be home sometime on
Tuesday. You are all welcome to phone or visit as your whims drive
you. You can bring food as well if you want (I really agonized over
including this one). Food items with lots of 'fiber' (roughage) is
probably what H needs, I will eat anything and I don't care if my kids
eat at all."


"Heather's problem with her lower tract still persists. She has taken
multiple doses of every mild to medium stimulant that exists. She has
just taken a more powerful med called 'citro-mag' with the hope it
will start her system. My dog, on the other hand, goes 3-4 times a day
inside or out - he doesn't care where.
I can't get around the idea that this room costs $200 + per day
and the only reason she's still here is because she can't ----. Just a
foolish aside; after I spilled a bit of the 'citro-mag' on my hand
when mixing it for Heather I foolishly licked it off my fingers.

Cheers for now David"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

happy homecoming



The spinal column has real joints (just like the knee, elbow, etc.) called facet joints. The facet joints link the vertebrae together and give them the flexibility to move against each other. The facets are the "bony knobs" that meet between each vertebra. There are two facet joints between each pair of vertebrae, one on each side. They extend and overlap each other to form a joint between the neighboring vertebra facet joint. The facet joints give the spine its flexibility.

My mom has had the bad luck of having those "bony knobs" wear down, resulting in a shift in the vertebrae causing the spinal chord to be pinched. This necessitated reconstructive surgery four years ago, and again last week, twice. They went in and ground down those bony knobs, drilled holes in the vertebrae and inserted posts running from L2 - L5. A bone graft was harvested from the pelvis, and little chips which should ultimately fuse with the spine and hold everything in place are held in with screws. Four years ago it was two vertebrae which needed fusing, but the spine degenerated further necessitating this second surgery.

Having the good fortune of living only four blocks from the hospital, I stopped by every day for a visit and to check on her progress. I watched my mom go from supine and barely conscious on day one, to WALKING laps around the ward on day three, getting all of the tubes out and enjoying much more mobility on day four, getting ready to go home on day five. Then the unpleasant news was delivered - a routine x-ray prompted a CT scan which showed that two of the screws were not in the right place. One was too close to a major blood vessel, and the other was not holding the fusion in place properly. So just as she was getting ready to go home, the tubes go back in and she's waiting for more surgery. The second surgery took place on Saturday, day six if you will, and was much less invasive than the first. Apparently the passage created for the screw was correct, but the screw did not follow the designated passage. This was corrected, the other screw pressing on the blood vessel was shortened, and she was closed up again. Up and walking the very next day, and fewer problems with nausea as a result of a change in pain meds.

Today, day nine, is the day she'll hopefully get to go home to start the two month long convalescence with no bending, twisting, or contact sports. My mom is fit and active, lean and healthy, walks, swims, goes to the gym, does all her physic exercises, and still her spine degenerated. Fingers crossed this is the last of it.


UPDATE: Not home yet . . . still in hospital awaiting elusive BM. Going on day 10 now . . .

UPDATE #2: Project poop a success. Finally coming home tonight!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

good advice

Contrary to what the comments section of my previous post may indicate, I have been getting a lot of really good feedback on the business plan. The advice coming from people who are in the know about such things is the same - keep it simple, and say what it is.

My Dad thinks I should be getting this done professionally - branding, that is. Although I'm sure I knew in the back of my mind that branding was a thing, until this week I didn't really understand what that thing entailed. Branding, I'm told, is an intensive project which will leave me with a cohesive look, word mark, colour scheme, and logo. Such a project is thought to run around $1000, which my Dad has offered to put up (with payback plan of course).

My sister has offered some sage advice about using words which for search engine optimization, and how to set up words and information on a site which will help me get indexed high up in Google.

I have had one name suggestion which I really like, and I like how it was come up with. All will be revealed at a later date if I decide to go this route.

Right now I'm trying to decide whether professional branding is the way to go, or whether I want to take this new name (which does what it says on the tin) and use the website I had used before for business cards, letterhead, and promo gizmos. I change my mind about every five seconds, so until that slows down I suppose I'll keep thinking about it.

I've got another project on the brew I'll need some feedback on too . . . stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

creative minds needed!

I have a small business on the side teaching CPR and First Aid courses. It's pretty much an under the table in cash thing at the moment, but it is growing to the point I feel I need to go legit with it soon. My primary market thus far has been CPR recertifications for nursing students, who need to do them annually. Word of mouth is a powerful thing - my business has been growing steadily, and my market is growing. Recently I've been trekking over to Commercial drive to teach CPR and resuscitation to 'Parents on the Drive', a group of self organized parents who decided they needed CPR training after witnessing one of their daughters having a seizure, thinking she was choking, and realizing none of them knew what to do. I've also been teaching Emergency First Aid courses at one of the graduate student residences on campus where they've put together an emergency response team, and want in house training.

The end of January saw me taking an AED instructor trainer course, which enables me to teach people how to teach people to use those nifty automated external defibrillator units which are popping up all over the place, as well as being able to deliver the programs myself. This is HUGE for me as a contract instructor, particularly since UBC has decided to put AED units in all of the athletic facilities, and the program will ultimately expand to the entire campus. Someone has to do all that training!

February and the beginning of March will see me jumping through hoops to be able to teach the new Occupational First Aid program that the Lifesaving Society, the organization with which I am affiliated, has finally managed to get off the ground. In my opinion, the OFA program is seriously inferior to the SFA program we've already been teaching for years, but it is the program sanctioned by WCB, and therefore the program that tons of and tons of businesses need their employees to take. Again, this is huge for me as a contract instructor and even huger for me as an individual affiliate since it means I will be able to market myself to big businesses as someone who can show up and conduct this program for their staff on site.

The batch of business cards I ordered for myself at the end of this month last year is dwindling away (interestingly, I've gone through more of my personal business cards in one year than I have my business cards at work in 5 1/2 years) and it is nearly time to reorder. Enter your creative minds . . .

My current cards read, "CPR with Katie" and have a cool heart logo (an actual human heart, not a heart shape) and details about course options and contact info on them. I guess by default my company name is this "CPR with Katie", however, with the addition of all these other courses I can contract, and the intention of going legit with the side business and starting to market myself to companies, I need a new name. I'm planning on putting together a whole promotional package . . . company letter head on which I will write letters and send them out to businesses explaining how awesome I am, and that I can come to THEM and do all of their CPR and First Aid training on site, website, new business cards (I want to keep the logo), promotional pens or some other cheesy give-away . . . the whole shebang. I want a name that encompasses everything I can do, and that sounds cool. The only thing I can think of so far is "Custom First Aid" but I don't think that's cool enough, and I think it might be taken.

Please help me come up with a name! If I select the name you come up with, I'll send you a whole package of all the promotional shiz I put together, and a chocolate vagina. What's better than a chocolate vagina?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

lecture hall rage

Picture this; a lecture hall with 260 students. About 1/3 of the people there actually interested in learning, the other 2/3 there only to yap with their friends. I fall in the minority category, wanting to learn, desperately trying to concentrate on the lecture and hear what the prof is saying. People all around me yap yap yapping.

Yesterday, I got to class early, staked out a good spot close to the front, but not so close that I had to crane my neck to see the PowerPoint presentation. People around me are generally good, but then two yappers show up - a boy and a girl. About 5 min into the lecture I turn around and politely ask them to stop talking, and indicate I am having difficulty hearing the lecture. They say sure, and then just keep on talking. The talk the entire freaking lecture, in spite of me asking them several times to stop. At the end of the lecture as we're all packing up our stuff, I have words with them. The exchange goes like this:

Me: Your talking is not quiet. It's very distracting and makes it difficult to hear the lecture.

Sassy little bitch: Awesome!

Me: Maybe for you, but I'm trying to hear the prof.

SLB: I'm sure you could find somewhere else to sit.

Me: I'm sure you could find somewhere else to have your conversation. This is a classroom.


I could not believe this chick had the audacity to suggest that if I didn't like her talking I should move! I'm always so filled with rage by the end of this class, I almost feel like there is no point even going. This is what I'm paying for? Sitting in a lecture hall listening to 18yr olds who are experiencing freedom and adult responsibility for the first time? I may not make it through this semester!

Friday, January 18, 2008

here it is

Some of you know, some of you don't know, so here it is: I flunked my chemistry course last semester. I'm still in the process of fighting red tape to be allowed to actually see my final exam with my own eyes, but if I flunked it, I flunked it, and that's that. I found out about said flunkage by way of receiving an email from the university letting me know I'd been de-registered from all other chem courses. Nice.

I've gone through a wide range of emotions about this over the last month, and at the end of it all, after some serious soul searching, this is what I have come up with . . .

1) My inherent academic laziness is not going to cut it with these science classes

and

2) Working full time while trying to go to school is insane.

So will the insanity stop? Well, not just yet. But it's getting in check. Finally seeing what basically everyone around me was seeing threw me into a state of total panic. I need to stop working full time soon, how can I make that happen? Will I be able to afford to pay for school? Will I need to get a student loan? Will I need to sell my car? How soon?

I went and saw the advisor for my department who gave me bad news, good news, and some insight. The bad news - UBC is renovating the chem labs this summer, so there will be no summer classes offered in chemistry (at least the ones I need to take). The good news - because of this they're giving flunkers like me special permission to take chem courses at the colleges this summer. The insight - I need to find balance. This, after I put my head down in my hands and moaned about how I was going to need to quit my job to make this happen, and just after I finally got 12 credits of free tuition per year negotiated into my benefits package. Oh cruel, cruel world.

I looked into things a little more and discovered that not only are there going to be no chem classes offered at UBC this summer, the biology lab course I was counting on taking over the summer isn't going to be offered either. So even if I kill myself taking chem all summer long, my standing will still be held back. It would seem that it makes the most sense to not take summer classes this year, to get to enjoy a summer for a change, and to work full time (or close to full time) for one more year. This way I can take it easy and recharge over the summer months, with the option of perhaps taking some fluffy GPA boosting courses I don't really need, and then in September tackle that chem course again having learned my lesson about the type of studying I need to be doing, and without the threat of having to chair a bargaining committee smack in the middle of the exam period. This also means I will be able to take advantage of more of those free tuition credits which just got negotiated into my benefits package, and I'll be working until the car is paid off. Yes, I'll be adding another year onto this journey, but it's not like I'm on the fast track program as it is. Having made this decision to not push through the summer feels like a million pounds have been lifted off of me.

I've also had some boundary setting conversations at work, like how I can't continue to work insane amounts of overtime the first week of every semester, which always results in falling behind in school. And how I can't participate in negative bitch sessions in the office, rather, having constructive problem solving conversations.

I'm hoping this will be a morale boosting semester for me, both at school and at work. I'm taking two biology courses this semester, which are much more suited to my learning style, and I find them actually interesting. I took a biology class at Langara that didn't transfer properly to UBC, so much of the content I've already learned, which makes things a little easier for me. Plus in one of my classes, which is taught by a wiry little lady with white spiky hair which in the first two weeks of the semester has been dyed lavender and then bright turquoise in the front, we have to read one of three books with ecology themes and answer questions about them on the final. One of the book options was the Omnivore's Dilemma, which I asked for and got for Christmas. I'm stoked about reading this book! Also she's given us the option of doing a written project for 15% of our mark, which reduces the midterm value by 5% and the final value by 10%. Sign me up!

Monday, January 07, 2008

the updated muffin recipe

This is the fat free low sugar bran muffin recipe I developed and made famous during my Weight Watchers days. I've been continually tweaking it over the years, and I think it's absolutely perfect right now. I make a batch about once a week and throw them in the freezer. Paul and I each eat one every day. They are just about the most branny muffins you'll ever find, so if your system isn't used to a lot of fibre, you'll need to work up to eating one every day.

Katie's Bran Muffins

1 cup apple sauce, pumpkin puree, or grated zucchini
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
2 eggs
2 cups skim milk (I use 2 cups water and 2 Tbsp skim milk powder)
3 cups wheat bran
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins or chopped dates (dates make the most moist muffin)

Take the raisins or chopped dates and put them in a small bowl. Pour hot water over them, and let them sit for a few min while you are mixing the rest of the stuff up. This will add mega moisture to the muffins.

Preheat your oven to 400. Mix the wet stuff, add the dry stuff, then drain the water out of the dates or raisins, and add them in too. Take your non-stick muffin cups and give them a teeny little spray of canola out of your enviro friendly refillable kitchen pumper spraying thingy. Spoon mix evenly into 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 min. Enjoy!

I'm no longer sure of the points value of one of these suckers, and I no longer have the tools to find out. Maybe one of you in the know can figure it out for me.