Tuesday, April 28, 2009

some things about my new job

Things I Like:

at my last garden centre/landscaping job there were these birds that were constantly singing about what sounded like "cheeseburger"... this made all of us hungry and longing for lunch break.

at the new job, in this new climate, there are birds that i don't know... and for the last three days i've been serenaded by a particularly persistent fellow who keeps calling me "cutie." i told him straight-up that i'm happily married and he doesn't stand a chance. but, he keeps after me... "cutie, cutie, cutie..... cutie, cutie, cutie, cutie!"

truth be told, i'm kind of flattered.


the koi in the ponds are enormous, and they kind of go nuts in the afternoon heat. yesterday they thought they were dolphins and were practicing their tandem leaping. some parts of the koi ponds are hung with nearly invisible criss-crossing wires. i kind of figured the owners were humouring them and their Catherine Zeta-Jones/Entrapment delusions... but, it turns out they're hung there to snare would-be theives... herons and small children, etc.

now i'm wondering if that is how the koi got so big... the owners trap unsuspecting birds/small children so the koi can practice their pirhana skills.


Things I Don't Like:

it's hot here... i'm the biggest wilted flower on the entire (16 acre) garden centre lot. if this is what April in Virginia is like, i'm not sure i'm going to survive July & August. good thing i'm going back to Canada for a good part of July :-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

isn't life just action packed?

got a job today... it won't challenge my brain or use my education in any way.
but i'll be working outside, i'll be working with plants, i'll be working this week... all good reasons to celebrate!


after contacting my university a few weeks ago, i finally got notice that they have approved my request to withdraw from my thesis and go on to do one more credit of course work to complete my degree. not only that, but they made my withdrawal retro-active... so not only i will not have a bad grade on my transcript, but i'll get most of the money back that i paid in tuition... which will just about cover the cost of the course i'm going to take in July.

the course i'm taking in July is a super-condensed course... 2 weeks, 9am to 4pm... and once i'm done, i'm done. degree completed.



spent last weekend in New York visiting old friends... it was my first trip to New York, and it was a little overwhelming. five minutes off the bus and i was struggling to control my desire to punch someone. i don't have a violent bone in my body normally, and i've never experienced "pedestrian rage"... but, turns out there is a first time for everything!

clearly, i'm not made for crowds.

spent two days walking all over Manhattan... apparently it was the first hot weekend of the year, and people were out in full force... stroller traffic jams in Central Park. had to laugh at the ladies out taking their stilletos for a stroll through the park.

really though, i was there for the time with friends... and it was great.


we've got a thunderstorm coming in... the air is electric.

i love it.

putting my shoes on to go out for a run.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

things that brighten my Sunday morning...

~ sunlight and cool air streaming in the windows

~ not having to choose between banana pancakes or blueberry pancakes. why choose when i can make both?! every bite is a new flavour combination... this one heavy sweet... that one bright bursting tangy... this one surprisingly plain (wot?! no fruit??) yet still satisfying... finally berry and banana both, sweet-tart.

am now wondering why it is that when food doesn't come out of a box we say that it is made from scratch. why does home made food have to sound so....... itchy?

~ dorky 3d glasses, encounters with new old friends, wandering the city street in simple conversation

~ visions of fireworks bursting into the night continue to dance in my mind's eye... the small white glow of the capital building off in the distance across the water... coloured shards exploding across the dark canvas of the night sky... the rumble and crack in the air, vibrating in the chest and stirring the heart.

~ making plans to see friends from Canada and France over the coming week

~ feeling connected

Friday, April 10, 2009


the loose ends of my "paying it forward" venture are all tied up. i mailed a bright card glowing with a profusion of hot pink gerbera daisies to Solaris, i brown-paper-packaged (sans strings) the scarf i had knitted and posted it to Mandy (after silencing some small murmurings of fear in my heart... what if she doesn't like it?!), and posted the recipes for all the things i would have sent to Soccer Milf if only we didn't have to worry about the border guards deciding to have themselves a tea party.

i'm kind of sad it's done now. i was delighted, however, to see my pay it forward adventures moving in both directions, forward and back... for Char left me a note to say she'd be trying one of my recipes. so perhaps i too will find myself months along the road reading blog posts for friends as yet unknown and discover that they were inspired to pay it forward by someone who received a treasure from Soccer Milf or Mandy or Solaris.


i feel as though i'm at the end of a lot of things, and am having a hard time finding focus.

caring for my dying mother-in-law - check.
training for and running a marathon - check.
fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - check.
filing all appropriate and tedious immigration paperwork - check.

all of these things have come to an abrupt end, and all within a couple weeks of each other.

now what?


now i need to focus on finding a job. preferably one that is motivating and stimulating and interesting... but at this point, i would be happy with pretty much anything that starts on Monday.


i also need to focus on finishing my Master's degree, which has been needlessly hanging over me like a dark cloud rather than dangling in front of me like the enticing tidbit it should be... well it is enticing, in truth... i've just not been in the mood to be enticed by it. so i need to focus, and get it done.


i have a new running goal to work toward... Marine Corps Marathon in October. my goal this time is not simply to finish, but to cut back on my running time.

all of these goals are achievable. i just need to focus.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Paying it Forward continues... a recipe blog.

As requested (since there is the serious likelihood of baked goods being confiscated -- and incinerated, or eaten ?? -- at the border), I am posting the recipes for the baked goods I would otherwise have sent to my "pay it forward" prize winner, Soccer Milf.

Banana Bread

preheat oven to 350 F

Mix together:

½ cup soft butter or margarine
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup orange juice (CRITICAL)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (approximately 2 bananas, if they're of average size)

Then add:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Although delicious as is... I usually also add about a cup of one or any combination of the following:
semi-sweet chocolate chips, walnuts, chopped dried apricots, golden raisins

Mix until combined, but don't over mix or you'll wind up with small heavy loaves or muffins. Pour into greased loaf or muffin tins -- makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins

Bake at 350 F until a toothpick comes out clean (muffins - approx. 25-35 mins, loaf - approx. 1 hour)


Best Ever Crunchy Oatmeal Cookies

Mix together:
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup margarine
½ cup lard (or full cup of marg if you don't do lard)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 ½ cups shredded coconut
½ cup sesame seeds

optional - 1 cup of any of the following: raisins, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, walnuts, etc

Roll into balls of whatever size you like, place on a cookie sheet and press flat with a fork... these cookies don't really spread much when baking so factor that in when you're deciding how big or small you want them

these cookies will be soft and chewy only until they cool. After that, they will be crunchy and perfect for dipping into tea, coffee or glasses of milk.

Bake at 350 F til golden (12-15 mins)


Carrot Loaf

(not to be mistaken for a carrot cake, this is denser and more amenable to spreading with butter or peanut butter than with cream cheese frosting, for example... though I leave that to your discretion)

preheat oven to 350 F

Beat together:

1 ½ cups melted butter
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
zest of one lemon

Sift in:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
½ tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp cinnamon

2 ½ cups grated carrot
juice of one lemon
½ cup each of walnuts and raisins

Note: the mix will look dry and impossible until you add the carrot. Don't be tempted to add any liquids until the carrot is mixed in. Then, if it still seems too dry, add a little water. It should be a heavy and rather stiff mixture.

Turn into 2 loaf pans, buttered and sprinkled very generously with poppy seeds.

Bake for approximately 45 mins @ 350 F, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nut Bars

preheat oven to 350 F

Combine until a crumbly dough forms:

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup soft margarine or butter

Press dough onto a cookie sheet to form the base for your nut bars.
Bake for 10 -12 minutes, until pale gold

In a sauce pan, combine and bring to a boil:

1/2 cup corn syrup
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp water
1 cup butterscotch chips

Let boil for two minutes, then remove from heat.

Meanwhile, sprinkle
2 cups of mixed nuts (any kind you like... we're fond of cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc ) over the baked cookie base.

Pour the butterscotch syrup over the top of the nuts (on the cookie base), trying to make sure they're fairly evenly coated.

Bake for another 10 - 12 minutes at 350 F

Cool and cut into bars.


So, there you have it, Soccer Milf... the instructions for making your own baked goods care package. Hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

And the award goes to...

Hope you weren't planning to collect your prizes at midnight last night... I was knocked out early by an evening of collective celebration (which is also how I'm going to spend this evening.. .it's all party party party around here! We have much to celebrate, but that's another blog).

Okay, so I wrote down all the contestant names (from both blogs) on bits of paper, put them in a bowl and had my husband do the draw...

In the order that he drew them:

Soccer Milf



Please leave a comment or message me your prize preferences. In all cases except the scarf, multiple contestants can choose the same prize. If there are multiple requests for the scarf, it will go to whomever messages me first.

For those of you who did not win, depending on what you were pining for... send me a beseeching e-mail, bat your eyes at me, stomp your feet and say it's not fair... whatever is your style for getting what you want, give it a try. I could probably be persuaded to give you prizes too. I'm just generous like that...

As I said, I have lots to celebrate right now, and it would be even sweeter if my friends had something to celebrate right now too, even if it is just the pleasure of finding a slightly beat up loaf of banana bread in the mail one morning.

(Please note: this is just a "for example"... the baking care package may or may not include banana bread... depending on whether I can keep my husband's hands off said banana bread long enough to package it up and send it.)

Thanks for playing... I look forward to hearing which prize caught your fancy.