Wednesday, February 29, 2012

closet overhaul: accessory search

I hate to admit this. In fact, it hurts to say it. But I full on suck at accessorizing. Well, that's not quite true. It's not that I suck at it so much as the fact that I don't really have that many accessories and I don't really utilize them well. I mean, I have my crazy scarf collection that drives Bunny mad. I have a couple of belts. But today let's say accessories mean jewellery.

Let's examine why this is freaking crazy. Have I ever told you how I make my own jewellery? Mostly beadwork with semi-precious stones, but I've also been known to work with seed beads (you can make some super cute layers with them) and crystals. Really, it's all necklaces/earring sets, and it's nothing innovative and a lot of them are the same ideas in different colours. But I mean, I make the jewellery. Why don't I wear more of it?

In the past couple weeks, when getting dressed to leave the house I've made a point of accessorizing. What I've mostly found myself playing with is surprising, as it's a piece my mom handed down years ago that I've most tried to avoid: a long black-and-gold beaded necklace. Seriously, though? This thing is freaking versatile. Wear it super long. Doubled over. Or my favourite: wear it long, but knot it. Knot the necklace. Whoddathunkit?

I really don't have much variety in my jewellery, which I think has been the problem. The necklace has been so much fun, and I want to keep on having fun with clothes. I want to start incorporating more varieties of jewellery. Cuffs, longer necklaces, pins and brooches, fashion earrings (although I have allergies I need to be cognizant of).

So, in that spirit, here are some of the things I want to keeps my eyes open for:
Even beyond the play stuff, there is definitely also some fine jewellery that has those statement elements I like.
  • Ringwise, I have been in love with this for ages. It comes in ruby, emerald and sapphire and it has this great balance of delicate and big. I`m also starting to dig the big stones and the rings that look like cuffs.

notes from abover

Ok, before I get into the clothes, I really want to briefly mention a few things. Here goes.
  1. I have some overhauls planned in the next couple of months for the site. Pages! (I really should give you at least an About Me!) Also, I'll be going through my tags and sort of updating. Maybe dress things up a touch.
  2. Another thing I'm leaning towards are pictures. Ya'll want pictures right? Seems silly to talk about FOOD and CLOTHES and not give pictures. This is slightly more of a project. I'm not sure if my old camera is really functional anymore (it kills batteries like crazy), so I may be looking at getting a new one. I would kind of really love a new camera. Sidenote: I miss film.
  3. You will soon be getting a recipe for orange-cinnamon drop sugar cookies. Yeah they were pretty delicious (gone now). Like we really enjoyed these.
  4. The house is on a psuedo-diet. This will be (obviously) impacting what I'm cooking and what we're eating around here. If you know me, you'll know I won't stop with the cookies and (cup)cakes and brownies. That means some other things need to change. We'll talk more, promise.
  5. I think we need to talk about leftovers more. I'm not sure if I've made it clear just how much leftovers play a role in our eating habits here, and the effort we have put into making it that way. The thing is, it's just a little work at the start and big payoff later.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

wedding laugh

So, we just ran into a wedding snag. A rather hilarious one at that.

The issue in question? The date. (Luckily, we have not yet locked this into stone.)

The plan, originally, was that we would get married on either the 3rd or 10th of November. We wanted a Saturday. I wanted fall, which worked with our timeline. November works well with our venue (it means we have the best chance of having Chef Lynn, which is kind of a big deal to us).

The problem? Hunting season.

Let's take a moment and examine the ways in which this is hilarious. HUNT SEASON is interfering with my wedding. I am a freaking former vegetarian. I shouldn't care that my wedding is right in the middle of prime deer shooting time, really.

Except that I'm marrying a hunter. A man who lives for deer season up north with his father. (And I call him Bunny. Hahahaha. Sad fact: he'd shoot a bunny in a heartbeat if it was in season, in the appropriate area, and he had a chance. Sadder fact: bunnies don't taste as cute as they look.) So. Deer season is not a good time to get married, if I'm being considerate of my husband-to-be and future-father-in-law.

Bunny was really sweet about it when I realized what we were doing. Something along the line of "marrying you is way more important than my hunt trip."

I don't, however, look forward to a lifetime of being alone on anniversaries (we'd simply reschedule our anniversary - this is what we do with holidays, as evidenced by the fact that we still haven't had Valentine's). And I know my father in law will give lots of loving grumbles about our poor timing.

So we have a wedding pow-wow to have this weekend. Nail this date thing now for once and for all.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday morning after a Rough Weekend

This weekend has not exactly gone as planned. And that's ok. Yesterday was a Bad Day, which is also ok. Bunny is awesome and made things better.

Today is a calm day. After yesterday, we need a calm day. Bunny's out buying dog food supplies (have I told you about the BARF diet? Yeah, that's what we feed our dog. B(iologically) A(ppropriate) R(aw) F(ood). For realz) and will be finishing off a batch of food today.

Also on the plans is to watch some FIM Superbike. I'm not quite excited about this ... but I enjoy motorcycle racing. I try to keep us just to the MotoGP, but the season's over and Bunny wants to watch bikes move fast, so we're going to check it out.

We'll also snuggle on the couch, and watch some Grey's Anatomy. Maybe watch a movie.

And tonight for dinner? One of our favourites ever: home made fried rice. We've got some nice beef chunks that we'll shred, and a huuuuge bag of basmati, lots of vegetables that we can add. There's also this thought like I might make a carrot cake. I so need to make carrot cake.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

thinking

There have been a few posts in the past couple of weeks over the blogosphere that had me thinking. First, there was part 1 and part 2 over at Happy Sighs. Then there was this over at Better in Real Life. Then, there is this incredibly moving post on A Practical Wedding.

That last one? A post that I rather want to comment on, that I have strong thoughts and opinions on. I started a comment, in fact. But ... but ... what was there to say but "thank you for sharing and I relate in ways that are completely unrelated and also incredibly related to your topic". Because, uh, you know ... I have a sex life. I have experiences, both current and prior to Bunny.

When I was single and in casual relationships I never would have thought twice about broadcasting almost any detail of my sex life. Nothing was ever off limits. I just did not care who knew. But now? Well, my relationship with Bunny is very precious to me, and I think that in a lot of ways the sexual part of that relationship is very sacred and intimate and sharing that is something that for me shouldn't be taken lightly.

This is not to say I haven't shared things in the past, when it has seemed necessary and with people that I trusted. Sometimes I'll still have girly, joking conversations about "how do you make shower sex work, it's just so awkward" (or whatever it might be). But what happens between the sheets that's specific to Bunny and I? Like the details of the good/bad/ugly? Well, that's private. Obviously that's a pretty big statement, and I will admit to having exceptions - and freely giving him exceptions. But on the internet? Well now no. That just does not need to happen, at least not for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Three Kitchen Projects plus upcoming busy-ness

I haven't really done all that much today, but a lot has gotten accomplished. It's actually continuing on the theme from Monday, where I played in my closet and organized things, put some things into semi-storage and put half a dozen items into consideration for donation. (If I don't want to wear them and come up with a good way to wear them in the next week or so, they're gone.) I even went through the bathroom cart and cleaned/rearranged/purged quite a bit. It was nice to feel like my things are in order and that I have a somewhat organized home.

Today's been a different story, though. It's been (of course) a story of the kitchen.

Project One: Oatmeal Bread is already in the bread machine and finishing its last rise. I half feel like I'm cheating, but that's ok. It's going to be delicious. This was actually the first type of bread I ever made in the machine. Now I'm noticing that I do throw a little caution to the wind with the recipe - I'm not as afraid to mix two recipes from the same book. The bread might not look perfectly, due to baking in the machine (although that's an easy fix!) but it generally turns out delicious.

Project Two: Caramelized Pear Upside-Down Cake found here, is just barely started. I've got all my ingredients prepared except the pears, and I'll in a few minutes I'll start peeling and slicing them and putting together my caramel. Most likely I'll mess with a few things here, and I'll certainly let you know how it goes.

Project Three: Dinner was originally going to be a spinach quiche with mozzarella, but now I'm not so sure I have a pie shell, or enough butter to make one. So, I'm likely going to turn that into a frittata, baked in the cast iron. I'm also thinking of tossing in some caramelized sweet onion and mushrooms. Maybe even some red pepper.

Beyond all that, there are some exciting things on the horizon.

A possible visit to a friend in Mississauga soon ,hopefully. If Bunny doesn't get sick we are having unValentines dinner at Terroni on Saturday. That was supposed to happen last weekend, as both of us preferred to avoid the day itself, but then I went and got all sickly.

Bunny and I also have some decorating to do around the house. We have things to put on our walls! Three small canvas paintings (a gift, a prize, and Bunny's work) as well as a statement mirror and an heirloom family print that my mother no longer wanted. Plus, we need to figure out where Wilbur (our bright red pig art. Yes, yes we do have that) should live and we might have to move the clock and the reproduction van Gogh (from my mom's friend, who also gave me a wedding dress) in order to make room for everything. It's driving us crazy having bits sitting everywhere. PLUS we need to look at all our photo frames, organize our photos and decide what we'd like to frame (we have about a million) and where we are going to put things.

I also have this sneaking suspicion that I might have to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting this week. Yeah, that's going to happen. Plus I have a million frozen bananas. I should do something about those, too.

Oh! And we have to plan a wedding, mostly, still.

Yeah, I'm busy. I loves it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

recipe: chocolate sugar cookies

You all know that I bake a lot, right? And that I seem to be constantly making cookies? What you might not know is that these are some of my favourites. I'm also pretty sure I promised you this recipe, so here you go!

I snagged the recipe off of Smitten Kitchen and have kept with it, but for a few alterations. The first - and most important - is that I have completely changed how the ingredients are mixed. This cookie turns out ok with the original directions, but I have to be honest and tell you that I don't like it very much - it gets very grainy. The texture of this cookie really benefits from standard creaming of the butter and sugar.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (You can cut this down a touch - but these cookies aren't overly sweet to me.)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room- temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375* F. In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, stir to combine.
  2. In mixer or large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well mixed and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, mix thoroughly. Once this is thoroughly incorporated slowly add the flour/cocoa mixture in 3-4 batches until combined.
  4. Place tablespoons of the dough approximately 2 inches apart on a lined cookie sheet, bake for 9 minutes. These will seem not quite "set" at the end of 9 minutes, and a little bit puffy, but will quickly deflate into cookie goodness. Enjoy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

a tale of three cardigans

So, in evaluating my style-as-it-is-now and looking at where I would like it to go I have again and again been coming up against the top piece. The jacket, blazer, cardigan, shawl - anything that goes over the shirt and changes the look of your outfit. I go shopping, and I am drawn to blazers and coats. I see so many areas in my wardrobe where a good cardigan would fit.

Lately, there have been some great toppers in my wardrobe. See the orange leather jacket or the vintage coat, or even the conductor's jacket that's part of my suit set. There have even been some that I've admitted that I need to give up (remember the oatmeal cardigan?)

There are certainly a few more jackets in my closet to be evaluated - the red leather that doesn't quite fit, the two blazers Bunny bought me when I got my first Big Girl job that are now three sizes too big, the multitude of winter coats (I have at least 5, my only excuse for this is living in the Great White North).  Today I want to focus on three cardigans I need to think about.

Cardigan One is almost a hoodie sweater. Except it's a little sweeter than that, and I'm thinking that even if it's very casual it might be a great completer piece for a casual outfit. It's fitted, short sleeved, I love the way the pockets are slit, and it just feels good. The colour is a lovely olivey-taupe, and I adore it. I feel good in this hoodie, and am thinking that it'd be really sweet with jeans, boots and a tank on a casual day out in the summer. It's a keeper. Or maybe with a casual skirt? I've got a green one this could work with, if I was dressing down.

Cardigan Two is more questionable. It was a Christmas gift a few years ago, it's a bland wishy-washy grey-and-black patter, the sleeves are too short, it's too big ...  I don't know why I'm still talking. Clearly, I'm not a fan. I don't wear it and don't feel good in it - it should go.

Cardigan Three is much the same. It's one of those drapey, open fronted cardigans - and I don't think the style works on me. Or at least not in chunky knit greens. That are several sizes too big. It was a Walmart purchase because I needed a top for that day at work. Like, twenty minutes to spare.

I guess I've answered my own question. Cardigan One stays and the others are gone.

from around the web

Now that I have my days free, I usually spend an hour to two in the morning reading the news (and then I read all the lovely blogs I follow if I'm in the mood for fun). Today of course is no exception. It's "Family Day" so Bunny's home with me, watching Resident Evil, and I'm reading away.

Ya'll know I'm currently on the job hunt, right? Well, given that, I tend to read at least a couple of career/employment type articles in any given day. This morning's been a little different: I read about two dozen (minimum) career articles. These two, though, stood out heavily.

First: Generation Y's Bad Rap regarding the way my generation is regarded in the workforce - and debunking, or at least questioning, a few of the misconceptions.

Secondly, I worked for this man. Not all of the habits align, but there are a few habits he had that are missing from this list - 11 Habits of the Worst Boss I Ever Had.

The rest of the day is shaping up to be fairly quiet. Bunny and I are talking about making cookies, or cupcakes and dinner. We're going to cuddle. I'm going to cross stitch. As a former roommate would say about me, I'm an 80 year old woman (my body just needs to catch up).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

breathing air

Yesterday was miserable. Closed airways, heavy lungs, all over aches and nothing good going on with how I was feeling. Bunny brought me home cold medication, and we spent the day curled up on the couches watching Grey's Anatomy (season two) while he played with my hair and rubbed my feet.

Um, wait. That's a pretty sweet deal. I mean, I felt like crap ... but somehow, feeling like crap with the man who loves you there taking care of you is bearable. It might even be better than having my mother take care of me when I'm sick.

Today I'm starting to feel better. Still down in the dumps, but it's like the air has lifted. Here's hoping tomorrow's even better.

crab dip: close, but not quite right

From the archives of unposted things past, an ode to dips. I still haven't quite perfected things, but I've since made much better dips. Soon hopefully you'll get a dip recipe from me.



Sometimes, Bunny and I really kind of wimp out on having a real, nutritious dinner and just do something that's either easy, or just sounds yummy. Lately, we've been craving dips of all sorts: guacamole, hummus, artichoke & spinach dips, crab dips. To make things difficult I'm picky about the textures and ingredients in things like mayo, sour cream and yogurt .... all common dip ingredients.
What does this mean? It means it takes a lot more work for me to get a great dip recipe than most people. Should it bother me to add a quarter cup of mayo to my dip? No, but the knowledge that it's there makes me uncomfortable. It means I try to get around these ingredients with things like milk or heavy cream, which sometimes don't work as well as planned. 
This was put to the test the other night, when I made crab dip. I used a no-mayo/sour cream recipe from cooks.com with some slight modifications. Bunny loved it, I thought it was ok but not quite there. Too runny (although crab dip is often runny, in my experience), not enough body to the dip. A little low on flavour, too much worstershire sauce.

What that means is you won't get a dip recipe from me yet. But I promise I will tweak until I get it really, really good. At that point, a recipe is a promise.

Best part about the dip, though? Baking it up in two of the mini-casserole dishes my grandma gave me for Christmas. Granted, Bunny ate half of mine, but still. Too cute.

Friday, February 17, 2012

coping strategy

Simple foods, when I'm sick, tend to be all I'm interested in.

Toast with butter.
Sugared tea.
Arrowroot cookies.
Chicken broth and dinner rolls.

Today I'm indulging in all.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

sickity sick

Well, I fought and I have lost. I am sick.

It's actually not so bad as that goes, just a runny, congested nose and sore throat. And a really drippy eye (will not stop watering!) I've eaten a lot of soup, and bread dipped in soup, and I think I'll be eating a lot more.

Oh, and camomile peppermint tea - which is the best herbal in my opinion.

When I'm feeling better, I have every intention of giving you my favourite chocolate cookie recipe, but for the next few days I think I'll drag up some old drafts for you.

Annnnnnd that's all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

oh my meat

Full disclosure: this post becomes more hilarious when you realize that I used to be vegetarian, and am still not a big meat eater. On the other hand, Bunny would have half his diet be meat if you let him .... so thus, the quantity.

Sunday evening and Monday morning were largely occupied by one thing: separating, chopping, and vaccuum sealing a large haul of meats from Costco to put up in the chest freezer. This is a big part of Bunny and my grocery routine. Every three months or so, we trek up to a Costco and come home with a somewhat ridiculous amount of meat, which we then vaccuum seal for later consumption.

We came to this conclusion about a year ago, and it works a dream for us. By buying in bulk, we get good prices on better cuts of meat than we might otherwise purchase. Having a large quantity and variety of meat in our freezer makes it much easier for us to plan our menus around what's onhand. (Also, it stops me from freaking out at the grocery store on a weekly basis. This is a good thing. Somehow I also manage to not at all freak out at Costco when spending the big money.)

This trip was particularly funny, as my mom took Bunny and I on the trip. The whole time we were in the meat section I swear her eyes were bugging out of her head. Bunny's eating habits have much more of an influence on the Costco trip than mine do, and it took her awhile before moms clued in.

When we left, our freezer had about four pork roasts and a few filets of fish, and that was it. Now? We have chicken (breasts, thighs & drums), we have pork chops, we have beef in both sirloin and eye of round (and we have roasts, stewing chunks and even a few steaks). Plus, we also brought home 10lbs of carrots and 5lbs of sweet onions. And gum. And bread. And so on.

Shopping in bulk is an interesting proposition when you're only feeding two people. I mean, I brought home an eye of round longer than my arm. A whole sirloin bigger than my head. FOR TWO! This wasn't a decision we arrived at overnight - we significantly changed a lot of things in order to accomplish this.

Bulk shopping for two - or even for one - requires some extra thought and attention. Questions we asked ourselves:
  • Where will we store this? (We bought a chest freezer. Also: our dog food is all frozen, which takes most of our normal freezer space, so the freezer made sense.)
  • How will we store this? AKA - how will we manage freezer burn and packaging? (We have a vaccuum sealer. We love it.)
  • Will we eat these things that we purchase?
  • Am I comfortable buying in bulk - making large food purchases?
  • How will these foods fit into our current habits? (For us, it was the same foods with just different buying habits, and some consumption changes)
  • Do I currently shop my pantry? (We try to - bulk buying made things better in this respect)
Bunny and I have learned a lot about our eating habits through this. Examples include:
  • We eat (or want to eat) more chicken than we think. This means that we really need to buy more chicken than we plan to.
  • Roasts are our go to meal. I was surprised by this at first, but it makes sense. A roast is the easiest meal ever, just chuck it in the oven and go.
  • We never eat 10lbs of potatoes before they go bad - but sometimes it still makes sense to buy them that way.
  • We buy more pork than we actually need. Constantly. Partly because it's Bunny's favourite, and partly because it's cheaper than anything else. (Also: please note, Costco's pork chops are large enough that one feeds me AND Bunny. I mean, me eating half a pork chop isn't a shock - but Bunny? Wow.) For us, this meant we needed to start looking for other cuts of pork to buy, because we still wanted it, but were sick of roasts.
  • If Bunny had his way, meat would be on the table every day. If I had mine, it would only happen about twice a week. So: we make more meat than I like, and I simply eat smaller portions, or skip it altogether when I'm not into it. This also gives Bunny a chance to have more game meat when I'm not really in the mood.  On the other hand, Bunny has to be ok with more frequent veggie meals. I'm lucky to have a man who likes tofu.
  • Our meal plan needs to incorporate leftovers and lazy days.
    • Leftovers - because when you make a roast for 2 there are bound to be leftovers. So, fried rice, stir fries, pastas etc are all requirements for us. We plan to make too much and use the extra later.
    • Lazy meals - as ambitious as I may want to be, I know that there are days that all that gets on the table is Kraft Dinner. Or frozen pizza. And that it's ok.
  • I like using frozen meat. This was a revolutionary idea to me - I had never been a fan before. But this works with our lifestyle and kitchen style and that's the most important part. We cook in a way that's intuitive to us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Reflections

So, it is the day. Yeah, you know, that one. The day that people like to make a huge fuss over and you have to give cards and love and flowers and hearts and sparkles. Wow, that sounded cynical, didn't it?

In all honesty, I could take it or leave it. Bunny doesn't do the "romance" thing too often, but when he does he does it well. So I mean, I'm not going to say no to the day. But at the same time, I am 100% certain every single day that he loves me. My day starts with Bunny telling me he loves me and doing small things to show me. Hopefully he feels like I do the same, I certainly try (but he may be better at this, admittedly). So I don't need a commercialized holiday for Bunny to treat me like a princess, because every day he does everything I need. As well, I realize that I'm very lucky that I get to say that.

As far as the romance itself goes, here's the thing: I have been single most of my life. I didn't do the serial monogamy thing prior to Bunny, and men in my life were more likely to be granted the FWB (Friends With Benefits) title than "boyfriend". So I've had a lot of single Valentine's. I'd be lying if I didn't say I enjoy it much more now with Bunny. (But, as a general rule, I enjoy almost everything more with him.)

He's also given me a good track record for Valentine's.

Our first year we weren't quite a thing yet for Valentine's, but the next year I had a great surprise: he showed up at work to pick me up with a massive bouquet of lilies (my favourite), took me to dinner at Coquine (the engagement restaurant - and a favourite), and gave me a very thoughtful gift. Well, he gave me an iPod, but it was really sweet because I was always on the bus between cities visiting, and he wanted me to be able to watch movies or listen to music during the ride. (See? So sweet!)

Last year I'm actually drawing a complete blank on right now, but I know it was super cute. What the heck did we do? Why can't I remember. Hum.

This year, we have plans this weekend. We'll go to dinner at a great Italian place we like. I'm already excited about the tiramisu. I picked him up a card, and maybe I'll sneak out and try to grab a bottle of red to surprise him for the night after. Or we can get into all the champers in my cabinet.

I'm thinking that I just might make cinnamon buns today, as they're Bunny's favourite and he is constantly asking about them, or teasing me about them. I'm thinking they might be a nice surprise for him. And I would really like to do something extra special today.

Monday, February 13, 2012

closet overhaul: outfit 3

I'm baaaaaack! Weekend up with the famjams was a smashing success, lots of fun had by all and I've got plenty of stories. I've also had a very productive day so far, and am quite happy to have dinner already in the oven (simple braise with tater and carrots) bubbling away.

Unexpectedly, I came home from Barrie with new pants. I hadn't really meant to buy jeans, and if it hadn't become a necessity I wouldn't have. You see, I am not historically a "jeans" kind of girl, as those who knew me in childhood will happily tell you. I do, however, currently keep one pair of jeans onhand. Right now, they tend to be my go to pants, but that's not saying a whole lot (as I'm a dresses girl).

My mother's dog, though, likes to eat my pants. Specifically, she likes to eat the crotches of my pants. Sunday morning I woke up to just that: pants, avec le giant hole in the crotch. So, off we went.

Full disclosure: I purchased almost the exact same pants that the dog ate, except with a trouser cut. They're great.

So, home after a weekend and with an errand to run, it seemed a great opportunity to style the pants. Long sleeves were called for, but I wanted to stay away from sweaters. So, I grabbed a problematic shirt: the neckline is too crew cut for me, and the pattern is partly animal print, part abstract. Because of the brown tones and pattern, I have trouble with matching them with pants. With the trouser jeans, they worked!

To accessorize, I added a double loop of beaded black and gold necklace I got from my mom awhile back. The vintage coat and bright green pashmina made it all street ready.

Really, I'm not sure how I feel about the outfit. It feels a little grubby, and I'm still not a big fan of the top. Maybe it's something I need to really consider. It just never makes me happy - with ANYTHING.

Friday, February 10, 2012

closet overhaul: accessory search

I woke up, I showered, I dressed. This is, as it happens, the usual order of things (more or less). I wasn't dressing fancy, but wanted to look put together. Played around in my closet with the following requirements:
  • Pants, because it's cold and I want to be warm
  • A sweater, for the same reason
  • Look super cute
I came up with: jeans and my favourite black tunic sweater. The sweater that is gorgeous and I've had for years and I adore and wear as a dress, as a sweater, with pants, with leggings. Cowl neck, long and lovely. I adore this tunic.

Problem is that a tunic and jeans is a little boring. And I didn't have much to dress it up with. I put on a nice five strand necklace I made years back. Still felt bored. Added my favourite belt, with the big butterfly buckle. Interesting, but not enough so.

My problem was quite apparent: I have three big accessory belts. All of them black. How do I use black belts to dress up a black top or dress? I need a couple of nice, colourful belts. Red, green, anything.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

outfit for an interview

I'm rather fond of knit tunics, though I don't own many. In fact, I own precisely two: one black, one emerald green, both from the same store, and both with a beautiful, drapey "Marilyn" neckline. The black is older, and fits better; it has a bit more give to it, so it tends to conform better throughout weight fluctutions and I am in constant love with it.

The green? The fabric isn't as nice, or thick, or soft. It's a little shapeless, actually, as it happens. The neckline flops a little bit, and since I've lost weight I've found that the back tends to gape - a lot. Literally the fabric just bags out over my lower back and makes me look like I have back fat.

So, you'd think the green tunic would be out, right? No. I love tunics. I love the green. I just needed to figure out a way to make this work better. I've loved it in the past with leggings, or close fitting pants. I needed to find a way to love it again.

So. So. What to do? I also had today's interview to think of. I wasn't feeling the suit - I'd been explicitly told to go business casual, and the suit seemed to be ignoring that. So. Suit was out ... but that did not mean that the pants had to be. The pants from the suit have that lovely slim fit, staying close to the leg right through the calf. Which is, to be sure, quite the right pant silhouette to wear with the green tunic.

After that, it was really only a matter of accessorizing: the butterfly buckle belt, long black pearls that were once my mother's. Add the vintage coat, and a blue scarf and handbag and we were rocking.

Here's the deal, though. Obviously this outfit is not as powerful or professional as a suit - and I did feel that in this. It's more relaxed, but not entirely relaxed. But I felt pretty and confident, and that's what matters.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

happy things

I had an awesome visit yesterday, which was very much needed. It was lovely to get out of the house, and amazing to get to spend time with a good friend who I don't see as often as I'd like.

I came home to a very happy email. One of the resumes I sent out the other day went over well enough to warrant an interview. So, tomorrow morning I'll be headed up to North York for that. Now, fair warning: even if things go well, details (other than an update if there's a yes) are not really going to be coming here. Not my business to talk about someone else's business (as I've said before).

I'm looking forward to seeing how things go. I'm excited.

Another thing I'm excited for? An amazing dose of fried rice for dinner tonight. We're doing it chunky style this time :)

Monday, February 06, 2012

happy tummy

Pork roasted with carrots and potatoes, followed by creme brulee makes my belly happy.

Yay.

road tripping

Tomorrow, I will be headed for an overnight visit with one of the most awesome former roommates ever, in one of my favourite cities that I've ever lived in. It's going to be a quiet visit of girly stuff, chilling out, and a little bit of intoxication. We haven't seen each other in ages and I'm looking forward to some much needed catching up.

I hate the idea of a night away from Bunny, but I need to get out of the house and have some really refreshing, totally being myself friend tim. It will be good.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

quiet traditions

It's easy, of course, to fall into a scheduling rut now that I'm home all the time. Literally, all the time. Especially since I'm being a bit of a tightwad, and that eliminates a lot of things I'd love to do: yoga and pottery classes, some cooking technique workshops, a couple of night courses, more time spent at museums etc. It's not that I can't do things - but a lot of the things I would love to schedule my life up with are on the expensive side.

Which isn't to say that I'm stuck in the house. I have a million things I can do. I can volunteer, go on walks with the dog. I can find plenty of free or cheap things to do around the city. I am not stuck, by any stretch. It just sometimes feels that way.

So while some of the routines I've sort of entered into need to be broken up a bit, I'm also noticing and appreciating some of the routines that we have either deliberately set up or that have grown into traditions that I adore.

Things like Bunny making eggs and toast every weekend. Often my stomach isn't up for food around the time he wants to cook, but it's the sweetest thing ever. Other than maybe morning tea delivered in bed (yeah, I do get that. I'm spoiled).

The daily designated time Bunny and I spend with each other. Sometimes playing, sometimes napping, sometimes listening to some Barry White (wink wink). But every day we have a slot of time that's just dedicated to connecting. Sometimes its more for me, sometimes its more for him, but it's good for both of us.

Enjoying my morning latte(s). It's way better than a normal cup of coffee and it feels so indulgent. On top of which, it addresses a dairy deficiency in my diet.

Waking up to snuggles with my puppy in the morning. That is just divine. Seriously, the little pooper pants presses himself right into me and turns into a tiny little ball.

Grocery shopping together on Tuesdays. I love Tuesday grocery shops.

Then, there are traditions and routines I should spend time consciously creating. Like, uh, actually using my workout game for the Kinect a few days a week. Or even using the stepper while I watch tv in the morning. Maybe even create a chore schedule for the really annoying ones.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

hunger games

Have I told you how I got sucked in? How I tried so hard to just not read this book?

I mean, it had all the Twilight type hype, and even though I gave in and read Twilight and was thoroughly entertained, I didn't really like it. I mean ok - there's a plot. But the rest of the book? Not much going for it. I had figured that the Hunger Games was going to be much the same.

Oh my lord how was I wrong. This series was utterly addictive. It had an amazing, overarching plot that broke down well. The pieces within the plot were well developed.

And the characters! The main characters were fully developed, which I often find is missing in novels (particularly YA ones). The supporting cast had a lot of holes, but it didn't become a problem given the first-person view point. The supporting cast in our lives often don't seem as rounded and complicated as they truly are.

The pacing was perfect. I kind of keep reading this .... scary, eh?

funky

So, uh, I'm a less than impressed to report that I spent most of last week in quite a bit of a funk.

As in a sit around feeling sorry for myself not getting anything done funk. You know what's lame about that? It gets me absolutely nowhere. I can whine all I want about life giving me some bad cards, but it doesn't change anything. I'm just sitting around with the same hand waiting for the world to change for me. Which just doesn't work.

This coming week is going to be different. The weekend is a break, as usual. I'm not holding myself to any promises. But during the week? I want to be back to at least 10-15 resumes out (a couple a day, average) plus some other stuff. I'm hopefully going to go visit an old roommate on Tuesday, so we can hang around, play games and catch up.

I miss this chick like crazy. It's like that with most of my friends from university: I miss them, but we just aren't in the same places to make hang outs easy. It's all intercity busses, and for some of them it's plane rides in between. The unfortunate thing is that these are generally the people who know me inside out, who know how I act and react and what I want and need out of life. The people who know when to tell me to put on my big girl shoes and get over myself, or if it's just time to let me cry for awhile.

My best friends, almost without exception, come from this time in my life. These are the peopel who where there with me during growing, exploring and fun. During more than one mental breakdown and fuck it moment. It's just a different quality of friendship, during that giant emotional growth spurt wherein you are just reaching to figure out those things that define you as who you are. 3am crying jags, essay all nighters, strange explorations of city, self and mental state, partying so hard you've never known the like. I feel like people who knew me in university, and still know me, have this kind of before/during/after picture where they know about how I got to be who I am, and understand and appreciate that.

Where they can see a little glimpse into who I might continue to become, in a way that many people can't.

They know the weird little things about me. Like how sometimes even if I'd really like help they need to offer because I just won't ask. They know that I love napping in other people's beds, but only while the bed owner is in the room and a good friend. How I adore shopping but am not ok with the spending money part. That even though I'm not a woo girl I do know how to party - and also that if I'm saying "no" to a drink or a night out that it's probably because I can't handle it (and they know how those nights end if I do go out). They know that my mind works in a slightly oddball manner and I think about things from a slightly skewed viewpoint. That I'd much rather smoke a joint than have a glass of wine. That I can't have a beer, on fear of death. (Literally). How even though I'm a bitch at times, I care probably too much about the people who matter.

I could really, really use more quality time with these people. I saw L last week, and I'm very excited to see A potentionally this week. She's pretty much a "kindred spirit", as Anne of Green Gables would say, and I think we are both aching for some time together.

Yellow Baboon!

Friday, February 03, 2012

meringue mission

You may remember how I've mentioned that on my way to learning how to make macarons, I have insisted on perfecting the meringue along the way. A good meringue is the backbone of a macaron, so I felt no sense trying any other way.

To recap: I cannot make the meringue by hand. I have not been happy with the results from the KitchenAid - possibly because it is the largest and I am generally doing only two eggs at a time. I did not have a spatula before for any folding.

Update: I now have a spatula. Well, I have had one for two weeks, actually.

Revelation: My hand mixer is ridiculous at mixing eggs whites. I used the wisk attachment for egg whites, and beaters for whipped cream (I made mousse last night) and was just agog at how easy this whole thing was. Could it be that the hand mixer is the way to beat egg whites?

So. We will have to revisit this. Meringues by hand mixer.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

ack? disaster?

I kinda went crazy in the kitchen today. Bread machine bread. Chocolate mousse (delightful). Broccoli cheddar soup.

The sad thing is the soup did not make me happy, and it is kind of overshadowing the rest. It's grainy, rather than smooth and creamy, and I am finding the broccoli taste very weak.

My thought is that it's one of a few things:
  • the soup was made from frozen broccoli stalks + 1 full head, maybe not the best idea
  • no blender, and I've never been happy with how a processor handles soups
  • not enough broccoli
We'll have another go later, I'm sure. Although for me to get a chance to make this soup is unusual: it's actually a Bunny specialty, and it's usually off limits to me (since he has relatively fewer specialties).

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

mac & cheese

The easiest of all recipes. In fact, I do not even truly use a recipe anymore, more work with what I have available to me and what feels right. I started off, as do most, with a basic bechamel sauce, and slowly developed my own.

This recipe is the single biggest hit I've ever had with Bunny. He's in love.

Of course, there are infinite variations. Change the cheese, change the seasonings, change the pasta. Add breadcrumbs, crumbled chips (oooh salty!) or more cheese to make a crust. Mix in bits of vegetable, or bacon or seafood. Delicious. More or less milk to create a thicker or thinner sauce (same with the cheese).

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2 cups (approximately) grated cheese
    • Note: I usually use cheddar, but seriously go wild. This is your own mac and cheese
  • 1 package pasta
    • Note 1 - I use shells. I find they hold the cheese better than macaroni, and I love how they reheat.
    • Note 2 - my favourite way to measure the pasta? Take the casserole I plan on baking and dump pasta in it until you are 2/3rds to 3/4s full. This tends to cook up properly.
  • Seasonings - my preference is:
    • 1-2 tsps each garlic powder, mustard & cumin. But this is constantly changing plus of course salt to taste.
Directions.
  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Bring pot of (heavily salted) water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. When done, drain and set aside.
  2. In a separate saucepot, melt butter. When liquid, add flour. Wisk together and cook a few minutes until flour is cooked through. Add milk. Continue to wisk and incorporate the milk into  the roux. When the milk thickens (it will all come together, the roux will incorporate and the mixture will start bubbling), add your spices.
  3. Turn heat down to low, and slowly stir in the cheese in small batches, until it is all equally mixed in.
  4. In casserole dish, mix together cooked pasta and your sauce. Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly. Enjoy!

reading quirks

I read a lot. Thank you, Captain Obvious. When I say "I read a lot", though, I don't mean I read constantly, read a book a week or a month, or even that I aim for a certain number of books a year.

What I mean by "I read a lot" has nothing to do with that, though. I mean quite simply that I read a lot of books. Spoken by sheer quantity. So many books. Piles of books. My old room at my mother's house is positively overflowing with books, there are boxes upon boxes in her basement. Our spare bedroom/office is growing a book garden. We've run out of bookshelf space.

I've read almost all of them.

I go on reading binges. Times where I bury my head in books for weeks on end, travelling in my head from one land to another, from one author's fantasyland to the next. I go from genre to genre, though I tend to hover in a certain area for awhile. I also tend to devour the entire collection of any author I come to love, which is happening right now.

Currently, as mentioned, I'm devouring Christopher Moore's literary collection. I've been through Lamb, A Dirty Job and Bloodsucking Fiend and am on my way through You Suck. It's morbidly funny, twisted, dark, sick humour and it's fantastic. Pure escapist fiction at its best.
This got me thinking, as things tend to do. Thinking about some other authors whose works I have devoured. While I shouldn't have been, I was surprised to see so many parallels.

A score of science fiction and fantasy authors: Guy Gavriel Kay, Jacqueline Carey, Piers Antony, Neal Stephenson, JR Tolkien, Orson Scott Card.
A few kids and YA authors: Tamora Pierce, Suzanne Collins, JK Rowling, Roald Dahl.
Not an insignificant number of historical fiction authors: Pauline Gedge, Phillipa Gregory.
Of course, a few random authors jumped to mind: Jennifer Weiner, Paolo Coelho.

I shouldn't be surprised to note that I love the sci fi/fantasy genre, but my growing interest in historical fiction has sometimes surprised me. Although maybe it shouldn't, since I've always been in love with biographies. You'll notice the authors there are more modern; I simply prefer the language and dialogue in modern books.

Soon I'm going to have to find a new author to dig my teeth into. Any suggestions?