The Great Cracker Conundrum

Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Yesterday, I had one of those light bulb moments and I wasn't too pleased with myself.  I've been trying to track my food just as I did while on Weight Watchers in the fall, entering the points for food, writing down what I've been eating, etc.  For snacks to take to work, I had bought myself a box of Sour Cream and Chive crackers.  I knew they weren't going to "low" anything but it was a treat and I was going to stick to the suggested serving size.  Well, the serving size is only eight crackers and they're smaller than your average saltine. But I did it.  I tracked them, wrote down my points, and ate them.  Then all of a sudden, after a week of snacking on them, I realized what I was doing.  Those measly eight crackers cost three points.  Doesn't sound like a lot, right?  Well, it is when you're only allowed 29 points each day. 

Why on earth was I wasting my precious points on EIGHT crackers?  It was so not worth it.  For the same points I can have an english muffin.  Or a mini can of Coke.  Or a small homemade apple cinnamon scone I made this weekend.  All would provide me with more enjoyment, more mouth pleasure (don't be sick) than those eight crackers.  I was chatting with a coworker about the cracker conundrum this morning and it just kept hitting me how much I'd wasted on those little bite-sized crackers.  Is this the whole point of WW?  Those light bulb moments that make you realize what an absolute tool you've been?  If so, then I'm a convert.  The remaining half box of crackers?  In the trash.

But now I'm in a pickle, so to speak.  What do I do about snacks?  I already take veggies and fruit.  I'm looking for something starchy, crunchy, carb-y, salty.  The Salt and Vinegar Crispers are still staying in my repetoire (I get twice as many as the crackers for the same points) although in moderation.  However, I'm taking suggestions for other ideas.  Note, I have a sensitivity to many nuts so I don't generally eat them.

Pop, pop...pop, popcorn
Today, I made airpopped popcorn.  With a little drizzle of saltfree margarine and a sprinkle of salt (this way I control the amount), it seemed like the perfect snack.  And when I made it, it was.  However, by the time I ate it three hours later, it tasted a bit ... dry.  Not quite old but not fresh.  I'm considering getting one of those shakers of popcorn seasoning to put on it instead of butter and salt but that runs the risk of ingesting bucketloads of sodium; not a good idea considering this is the year of heart health.

What do you snack on?

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Monday, January 23, 2012
The birthday surprises continue!  Today I came home to an unexpected parcel from Amazon.  The always generous Alun sent me a couple of birthday books to start my year off right. 

Keeping me reading through February
Yeah, you read that right - The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse.  I don't remember how I came across the title but when I read the blurb about it, I added it right away to my Amazon Wishlist.  I don't tend to read a lot of fiction but it sounded fun.  I'm sure my brother and sister in law will enjoy it when I'm done.  Justinian's Flea?  This has been on my list since it came out a few years ago.  It combines two of my fave things in nonfiction:  history and death by pandemic.  Yeah I'm a bit freaky like that.  Its how I roll.

Frozen but Fabulous
I love brussels sprouts but frozen sprouts tend to be mushy and bland.  However, I'm a big fan of the Green Giant Simply Steam Brussels Sprouts with Butter Sauce.  I don't know how they do it and I don't really care.  All I know is that I love them.  And yeah, I eat the whole box.  Two servings of veggies - done!  Now, the butter sauce does have quite a bit of sodium in it but I try to to scoop the sprouts out of the sauce so there's just a thin coating of sauce on them when they hit my plate.

Yeah, I'll be gassy tomorrow
Once again, your eyesight isn't fading - that's fish on the far side of the plate.  Deep fried and battered but its there.

The mailbox surprises didn't end with the lovely present from Alun.  Amongst the junk and bills, there was my annual statement for my workplace savings plan.  I almost didn't open it because the amount I expected to see really wasn't anything to smile about.  However, while waiting for my sprouts to steam, I ripped open the envelope.  WTF?!  The amount I saw was more than double what I expected.  It's nowhere near enough to, say, retire but it is enough to make the equivalent of almost two payments on my student loan.  You see, I forgot that I had changed my payro mind was made upll deductions from once per month to once per paycheck - that means I went from 12 deductions a year to 26.  A BIG difference.  Woot! 

You know what it also means?  I'm buying a bicycle in the spring.  I had planned on buying one anyways but I was starting to think responsibly and felt like I should be putting the money towards a bill payment.  With the surprise I received in the mail today, my mind was made up.  I'm doing both.  The REALLY responsible Me would skip the bike and make two sets of extra payments but at this point in my life, I think the bike is important.  I need something to get me out of the house, a new form of activity, a new lease on the life I want to have.  Besides, I've been good about making extra payments every month so I feel justified.  Green Cruiser ... here I come.

Friend Makin' Mondays

Once more, courtesy of Kenlie at All the Weigh, its Friend Makin' Mondays.  If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here and at All the Weigh so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!
FMM: Short Answers

  1. Mac or PC? I've never used a Mac but I`d like to switch.
  2. Do you paint your own nails? No, I have terrible nails and would fail horribly as an esthetician.
  3. Beach or mountains?  Mountain - I hate the beach.
  4. What’s the title of the book you’re currently reading?  The Codex by Douglas Preston and 1000 Years of Annoying the French  by Stephen Clarke
  5. Do you dance? Yes, and I'm damn good, if even in my own mind.
  6. CNN or Fox News?  Of those two choices, it'd have to be CNN but I normally watch CBC.
  7. Do you ride a bicycle?  No but I want to buy one this spring.  However I should spend that money on bills...
  8. Do you get a yearly flu shot?  Never and I've only had the flu 2x in the past 10 years.
  9. Best movie you’ve seen in 2012?  I haven't seen a single movie this year.  Very strange for me.
  10. Do you prefer to workout at home or at the gym?  I'm self conscious so I prefer at home.  If I had someone to go with, I'd probably like the gym more.
  11. Last airport you were in?  Edmonton International in 2009 when I returned from my trip to the UK.
  12. Married or single? Single.
  13. iPhone or Android? I don't have a cell phone.
  14. Do you prefer to be in pictures or taking pictures?  To take them.
  15. Favorite brand of sneakers?  My last two pairs have been Saucony's but my first REAL pair of running shoes were Brooks and they'll always be my faves.
  16. Do you like snow?  Mos def.
  17. Do you have/want to have kids?  No / No.
  18. Summer or Winter? Both but if I have to chose - winter.  I like the cold, solitude, wind.
  19. Do you know how to swim?  I don't know if you can call what I do "swimming". 
  20. Do you prefer to shop in store or online?  In store because I like to feel, see, try on but online 'cause I hate pushy sales people and other shoppers.

Wanna hear something funny?

Sunday, January 22, 2012
I hate mushrooms.

Ok, that in itself isn't all that amusing.  What is though is that while I hate mushrooms, I quite enjoy mushroom soup gravy.  You know what I'm talking about - you cook up a piece of chicken, pork or some hamburger and then use a can of mushroom soup to deglaze the pan, picking up all those yummy, crispy burnt bits?  Yes, I most definately pick out the little chunks of mushrooms in it but the soup part of it? Quite lovely on mashed potatoes.

Mini meatloaf with mushroom soup "gravy" and jasmine rice
Those that know me are completely baffled by it.  And to be honest, I can't explain it either.  Mushrooms are gross - the texture is all squidgly and squeaky and spongy; the taste?  Well, there isn't one which is just plain wrong.  Food has flavour; if it doesn't, its not food.  End of story. 

It doesn't bother me that mushrooms are grown in shit.  I'm ok with that.  Manure is a great fertilizer.  Nope, its all about the taste and texture.  And maybe the appearance.  That weird fan-like underside of the cap?  Creepy.
Cheese-a-licious
 Give me almost any other vegetable (minus olives and asparagus), and I'm happy to stuff it in my (veggie pot) pie hole.  Peppers, onions, zucchini, squash, even eggplant (within reason) - I'll eat 'em up.  Mushrooms, in my humble opinion, should stay in the forest for the fairy creatures to sit upon and work their magic.  Go ahead, I'm ready for your arguments in favour of the fungi.  I realized long ago I'm in the minority when it comes to these edible toadstools.  Yes, Mr. Anchovy, you may have first dibs ... (*wink wink*).



Missed a Day!

Saturday, January 21, 2012
Ooops!  I had every intention of blogging yesterday and never got around to it.  Oh well, one missed day this month isn't too bad.  I'm not going to beat myself up over it.  Its just blogging after all!

I started taking Flaxseed oil yesterday.  No noticable difference in my skin yet but hey, its only bben two days.  After I bought a big bottle of pills, a coworker said that he had just talked to his local health food store about it the day before and was told not to bother with the pills - he said its more beneficial to use the oil.  Crap on a cracker.  Oh well, we'll see how this goes anyways.  Anyone else out there take Flaxseed? Notice any benefits to your skin????  Anyone?

Ever want to increase the viewers/visitors to your Flickr site?  Easy peasy - join a group.  Or 6.  Yesterday, feeling a bit "non-busy" at work, I started looking up groups, joining a few, and adding some of my own photos to their lineups.  Within seconds (not kidding!) people were viewing my photos, favouriting them, and commenting.  A LOT of people.  Holy schmoleys.

I'm currently working my way through the entire series of X-Files, including the movies, and I just finished season 2.  How could so many weird, life threatening, bizarre things happen to the same people!  Surely any sane person would have given up long ago. There are a few episodes that I've seen before but most are completely new to me.  One thing I remember most was how much I had a crush on Alex Krycek (played by Canadian actor, Nicolas Lea) towards the end of the series when I actually started watching it semi-regularly.  Now?  He looks so young.  I'm actually noticing how hot Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is...  Jody the Non Blogger probably already realized this long ago but Mitch Pileggi played Horace Pinker in the 1989 horror flick Shocker.  OMG.  Memories come flooding back.  Mainly about how bad that movie was and what a terrible actor Pete Berg is.

Big Brother, Super Duper Sister in Law, and Mommikins took me for a belated birthday lunch today.  Original plans were to make our first visit to Padmanadi, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant here it town that always gets great reviews.  After being seated and checking out their brunch menu, I was all set on ordering their banana coconut french toast.  However, both the kids couldn't find anything on the menu they wanted and were already having a bad day.  Big Bro didn't look too excited about it either but would have stuck it out.  We all decided however that we'd go somewhere else where we could all get something to eat.  A bit disappointing but completely understandable.  I'd rather have a mediocre meal with smiling, happy family, than a fantastic meal with a couple of mini grumpy gusses.  The venue change was just what the doctor ordered - we ended up at Boston Pizza.  The food?  Mediocre but the company?  Wonderful!  At various times, we were all dancing in our seats to the eclectic mix of 80s, 90s, and early 00's music blaring out of the speakers.  True to form, Mom, niece and SIL ALL ordered the same seafood laden pasta dish.  I was surrounded!

Afterwards, we parted ways and Mom and I ended up at the mall.  I had a big list of shopping I wanted to accomplish and we made a valiant effort.  I didn't come away with any new shirts (I wanted at least one-, possibly two) but I snagged a sports bra (with underwire, yay Addition Elle!), new pillows, new shoes for work (yay Clarks!), a foam thingy for my bed, and yarn for a hat I'm knitting.

Its been a long day - I am exhausted.  Pretty sad considering its just 730.  Perhaps I'll try and read for a little while before testing out my new pillows and foamy thingy.  Night night y'all.

The Chobani has Landed

Thursday, January 19, 2012
For some time now, I've been hearing nothing but great things about this magical brand of Greek yoghurt - Chobani.  Its been all over many of the healthy living/fitness blogs I read and I've been dying to be one of the cool kids who gets to eat it.  Sadly, it was only available in the USofA (booo).  Then, one wonderful day a few weeks ago, I discovered (quite by chance) that Chobani is now available in Canada (Yay!).  My dreams were quickly dashed once again when their website taunted me with the news that it was available only in the Greater Toronto Area (boooo).

I was not going to give up that easily.  I fired off a quick overly enthusiastic e-mail to the Canadian part of the company and demanded begged them to let me try their yoghurts.  Not even 24 hours later, I received an equally enthusiastic response from Ashley in their "Digital Communications" department saying they'd "love to send a sampling of our 'gurts to review".  Wow.  I asked, I received.  Kudos to Chobani for their great service! 

There was a delay in the shipping and I was supposed to receive an updated delivery date when WHAMMO!  I came home to find mom stocking the fridge with half a shelf of yoghurts!  Originally Ashley and her manager, Emily, had mentioned four flavours that are available in Canada:  black cherry, pomegranate, peach and strawberry.  I said I'd take whatever I could get.  I was hoping they'd give me one or two of each to try but when it arrived, they only flavours included were the pomegranate and the black cherry.  No worries - I'm not going to complain when I'm getting it for free!

Since I'm not a huge fan of pomegranates, and Mom wasn't too keen on the black cherry, it was an easy decision about who got to sample which ones.  First up, Mommikins and the Chobani Pomegranate:
Free food? Yes please.
We had a lot of fun seeing who could outdo the other when it came to making the weirdest faces.  Yes, put a camera in front of us, and this is what you get.
That Mom, what a kidder.
Don't worry Chobani, Mom actually quite enjoyed the pomegranate.  See?
Oh yeah baby...yoooooooghurrrrrt.
This was one of the tamest photos I could include of her and her 'gurt.  Mom wins the creepiest yoghurt eating face contest, hands down.
Mom gives the pomegranate the thumbs up.
I have to admit, I wasn't a fan of the pom.  Nothing wrong with the yoghurt itself, just not a flavour I would eat.  But now it was my turn to sample the black cherry.
Not just cherry - BLACK cherry
While Mom's yoghurt seemed to have the fruit mixed in a bit, I discovered a treasure trove of cherry chunks sitting on the bottom of my cup just waiting for me to whisk into the creamy soft yoghurt.
Yoghurt CAN be sexy, no?  Uh...probably no.
And the weird faces contest continues...
Oooooh CHERRY!
Black Cherry Chobani? A thumbs up from me.
Just like I didn't like the flavour of the pomegranate, Mom didn't like the black cherry - she said it was too sweet?!

Overall, we both liked Chobani's greek yoghurt.  However, we both agreed that we prefer our yoghurt with a bit of fat in it (Chobani's are fat free).  One thing I really appreciated was that, unlike most big brand name fat free/low fat yoghurts, Chobani doesn't use aspartame, Splenda or any other artificial sweeteners.  Would I buy it in the store?  Good question.  Given the choice between the no-fat Chobani and a Greek yoghurt with fat, such as Liberte, I think I would likely choose the other yoghurt.  This is just a personal preference - I like the fat.  Honestly, neither of us could find any other fault with the Chobani.  The taste, texture, serving size - all great.

In fact, the serving size is actually a plus for Chobani compared to the individual Liberte yoghurts and other brands.  The Chobani containers are larger although not filled to the top with product.  This allows plenty of room to swirl/mix the fruit and yoghurt together or to add in some crunchy cereal or granola as we did after the initial test.  Chobani has put a THOUGHT into their packaging for sure. 

A HUGE thank you to the folks at Chobani Canada, especially Ashley and Emily, for their help and their generosity.  I am happy to give their Greek yoghurt a thumbs up from both Mom and I, and would gladly recommend.  The Chobani folks generously gave me 6 of each flavour so I'll be able to share with my family when I see them this weekend.  I'm looking forward to the day when Chobani goes on sale in Western Canada and we get some more of the flavours that our American cousins get to enjoy:  Apple Cinnamon, Lemon, Raspberry... Mmmmmm.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review and my opinions (and those of my mother) are our own.  Chobani did not contact me, I contacted them.  Is there anything else I need to declare?

Alberta is Oil Country

Well, it wasn't food poisoning.  Or it could have been and maybe I got up in the middle of the night to be sick without remembering but I don't think so.  Looks like I was wickedly exhausted and a bit dehydrated.  Feeling better this morning.  Its definately going to be a watery, healthful eating day today.  Here are a few pictures to prove it:

Remember this? 
Yeah, I tapped that again this morning.

While toasting my muffins (why does that sound like a Lady Gaga lyric?), I made lunch.  Here are the contents of my lunch bag:
LUNCH TIME!

STARTER SALAD - Romaine, asiago, bell peppers green onions, slivered almonds

ENTREE - Pierogies with fried onions, steamed broccoli

DESSERT!
Yeah baby.  I'm excited just thinking about getting to eat it later!  My indulgence for today is a small container of Salt and Vinegar Crispers.  They're like potato chips but thicker and baked.  The pieorgies?  Cheemo - local company.  And the apple?  You'll notice it comes from British Columbia, just one province over.  Much better than cucumbers from Mexico or fruit from Chile (not that I have anything against either country).

Kenlie, over at All The Weigh, recently published a post on Vitamins.  Go on, check it out, I'll wait...

Ok, welcome back!  Now, I'm of the opinion that, for the most part, you should be able to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need from the food you eat.  It makes me a bit of a hypocrite though since I tend to not eat all that well "some" days (*cough cough*) and I take a daily multivitamin just in case.  Anyways, Kenlie wrote about how, when she used to take flaxseed oil pills 3x a day, she never had dry skin.  When she stopped taking them, her dry skin returned.  Sure it could be coincedence, a result of the change in climate when she moved or some other factor but its piqued my interest. 

Alberta has notoriously dry weather, especially in winter - despite subarctic temperatures, the air is as dry as the Gobi Desert, leaving skin parched, scaly, flaky and amazingly itchy.  Lotions only offer limited relief and no matter how much water I drink, my skin still begs for help.  I'd like to know if any of you out there have tried flaxseed oil and if its had any effect on dry skin.  I'm going to experiment with it myself and see what happens.  It couldn't hurt - flaxseed oil has lots of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, good for your heart, blood pressure, cholesterol and all sorts of other good things.

Wimpy Wednesday

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Its been a long, bad week.  I have ingested the weight of one of my cats in salt over the course of a day and a half and slammed back very little H20.  Yeah,  I thought I'd mummify myself in my spare time.  The emotional eating continued all day yesterday which may or may have resulted in a fast food lunch and possibly pizza for dinner (and breakfast today...).  Needless to say, my body and brain have felt a little on the crappy side as a result. 

At the office today, we finally hosted an event our department has been planning and organizing since before Christmas.  It involved almost 200 of our fellow co-workers traipsing through our area all morning.  Considering how much I hate crowds and people in general, I did quite well.  I joked with my boss that I'd like the afternoon off and ended up being told I could take it if I wanted to.  No need to ask me twice.  I was so exhausted by the time I left, I decided to (once again) stop off and pick up lunch on the way home.  I hit up a sub shop (sounds like Wiznos) near my office where I got a sandwich and a soup that might have been just a tad bit off.  I didn't stop eating it but wondered if I'd get sick as I downed each delicious bite.

Fast forward 6.5 hours later - I feel headachy and nauseous.  This could be food poisoning but it could also just be the dehydration process I've been subjecting my body to.  All I know is that I don't like it.  On top that, one of our neighbours is blazing up with some of the stinkiest weed I have ever had the displeasure to be exposed to.  The green haze is flowing into our apartment like fast moving lava down the side of a volcano.  Our poor kittehs (and Mom and I) are getting a secondary smoke high from it.  We complained to the office earlier in the day but they started up again just as I got off the treadmill (hoping exercise would help me feel better - it did but didn't).

Anyways, I guess I'll find out sometime tonight if its food poisoning (although I doubt it is).  I'm off now to suck back as much water as my bladder will allow me to before I head off to bed.  Its going to be a much needed early night tonight.

Tuesday

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
This morning I treated myself to an indulgent breakfast - pancakes.  Smothered in syrup and a bit of butter. Definately a response to how upset I was last night.  I even started thinking about pancakes as I tried to fall asleep.  I have to make a confession though - they weren't homemade.  Yes, they came from a box.  And I don't care. 
Oooewy Gooey Goodness
Ever since the weekend, I've been waking up later.  Both days this week, I haven't dragged myself out of bed until at least 4:45 am.  It feels fantastic but cuts into my morning routine. 

All my pictures lately seem to be of food, even when I went out with Mom on Friday.  It was all centred around food.  To be fair though, the Telus World of Science didn't allow pictures to be taken in the Titanic exhibit but yes, its all about the food.  My super duper sister in law keeps telling me how good my food pics are - I think for her, I'm going to put together a calendar of just food pics as a Christmas present.  I love taking pictures of food, I love food.  Perhaps that's why they turn out so well.  I'd like to be able to take better photos of other things - scenery for one thing.  I can take pretty good shots of the kittehs.  This is one of my faves:
Sunny Snoozefest
 And so he's not left out, this one too:
Fluffy Fatboy
This year, you're going to see a lot of food.  And a couple of cat shots thrown in for good measure.  I am going to work on the portraits and the scenery shots but the majority will be stuff I shove in my food tube. What can I do?

What kind of things do you normally photograph?
What type of camera do you use?

Family Ties

Monday, January 16, 2012
I cried today.  Not in a good way but because of my family.  You see, last week I had a birthday.  And, until today, I had not received a card or a phone call from my father.  Not really surprising, he's late every year, and every year it upsets me. 

You should know that my parents are divorced.  It was not amicable, especially in the first years following the divorce and my parents do not speak to one another.  When my father does "call", its my stepmother who telephones and then, after we chat a few minutes, passes me on to my dad.  I'm a bit surprised that my parents can't at least be civil to one another, saying a couple of sentences "Hello / Is Karen there? / just a minute, I'll go get her / thanks" but I'm willing to get past that considering the reasons for the animosity between them (I'm not going to get into it).  It could be a lot worse, I suppose.  At least I'm getting that phone call, even if it is late.

This year, it bothered me yet again that I didn't get that once per year call on my actual birthday so I wrote on Facebook how it bothered me.  Well, not even 5 minutes later, the phone rings.  Its my stepsister who lives with my dad and stepmom.  She's clearly a bit annoyed.  A quick "Dad asked me to call you" and she passes me along.  Dad's even more annoyed and accuses me of slamming him on Facebook.  I should be more considerate of the fact that my stepmom was out of town for the past week and he's been working nights. "So there's your birthday phone call".  Suddenly, I'm the one who's done something wrong and is getting in trouble for it, feeling like I'm 5 years old again.  We exchanged small talk for a few minutes and I gave him my toll free work number; he can call me during the daytime to make things easier and avoid my mother altogether.

I get that birthdays at my age maybe aren't all that important to a parent.  But how am I supposed to feel when the only reason I get a call four days after my birthday is because someone told my father what I wrote on FB?  It would have meant a lot more if he'd actually planned on calling tonight rather than because he was angry at me.

Every year I tell myself next year I won't care.  And every year, I shed yet more tears over a stupid fucking phone call that never comes when it should.

Savory Sunday

Sunday, January 15, 2012
Its Sunday.  My lazy day.  The one day I try to do as little as possible.  Today was no exception and I started it all off by not getting out of bed until 6:37 this morning.  Newcomers to London's Fog will think I'm crazy for thinking that's a great way to start off a slow Sunday.  However, when you realize I get up most days (including holidays) sometime between 3:30 and 4:30 am?  This was sleeping in!  I didn't think I was THAT tired after going to the hockey game last night but my body and brain would likely disagree.  I woke up around my usual time, cats bouncing excitedly on the pillows beside me but for some reason, I refused to get out of bed.  The only reason I eventually dragged myself from under the covers when I did was because my darling fluffball, Nero, wouldn't stop meowing and it was starting to annoy me.

What was left of the morning was spent watching a couple of episodes from season 2 of the X-Files (Scully's been abducted and Krycek disappears when suspected!!!), knitting, a long walk on the treadmill and overall slothiness. Is that a word?  It is now.  For the rest of the day, I plunked my tookus in front of the television and watching playoff football.  The Houston/Baltimore game was on first and it was a good one.  Nice and close with a a lot of great plays.  Tensions were running high and I half expected a few punches to be thrown before the end of the game.  The Giants are currently beating the Packers (Yay!) in the 4th quarter, 30 - 13.  Fingers crossed...!

I've been a very good girl today, food-wise.  Yesterday, not so much, but today - definately on point and within my points (trying to track this week).  Lunch was a HUGE salad with plenty of fresh veggies, topped with Greek dressing, and a side of pieirogies.  Mmmmmmm.  I was stuffed.  I snacked on a gorgeous granny smith apple and a few salt and vinegar crispers mid-afternoon.  And dinner?  See for yourself:
Gravy should be a food group
Remember my post on not having time to cook?  Well there you go.  One of the standard meals we had growing up: Shake'N'Bake chicken, mashed potatoes, and veggies (in this case, peas with a dot of unsalted butter).  Simple, healthy, filling, and ... it was on my plate in 40 minutes (I like my chicken dry).  And, since I'm a single gal, I have enough potatoes for three more meals (yay, lunch tomorrow).  Easy peasy.  AND I made gravy from scratch.  Simple, flavourful, yum.  Gravy is almost as easy to make as cranberry sauce!  On a side note, I'm embarrassed to admit that until this weekend, I didn't realize that "savory" is not just a flavour like sweet, sour, salty, etc.  Its actually an herb and its what I used in my gravy (I should also have added sage but forgot).  Kick me out of the kitchen now.

Not sure if anyone's noticed but I've been blogging more often than I used to.  One of the goals for 2012 I had mentioned earlier this month was to blog more and take more pictures.  A mini goal that I set for myself to start with (but didn't share) was to blog every day for a month.  I tried this once during NaBloPoMo but forcing myself to do it was a disaster.  This month, however, has been going really well.  Its half over and I've posted 16 times already.  Sure, not everyone who reads my blog care what I've eaten for breakfast or how pumped I was after my latest treadmill outing but the act of writing something every day and taking time to put it out there has been a great exercise for me, especially mentally.  God knows, we need to exercise our grey matter as much as our muscles.

Another of my goals was to read more and I'm sad to say that I've not been nearly as successful on this one.  I currently have two books on the go but I've been focusing more on knitting, exercising and blogging and leaving not much time for reading.  I haven't even been picking up one of my books during my lunch hour at the office; there always seems to be something I need to do at lunch that's more important than getting through a chapter or two.  This is going to change.  Hopefully I'll be pestering you with posts and reviews of cheesy adventure novels and history books most would find dry and boring.  Tough nuts, I say.

What did you eat today?
What are you currently reading?

She Shoots, She Scores

Saturday, January 14, 2012
Tonight, Mom and I headed out to use the hockey tickets I gave her for Christmas.  The 1st place Edmonton Oil Kings were taking on the 3rd place Kootenay Ice.  Its past my bed time, the Broncos/Patriots playoff game just ended, and I'm beat so I'm going to keep this simple and tell you the story of our evening through pictures....

Forgive the quality. I took my old Sony digital camera and it keeps flipping back and forth between settings as if it is possessed; I never know how things are going to turn out.

The Great One welcomed us to Rexall - yes, we finally have snow!!!

The Hanson Brothers from Slapshot were there for the ceremonial puck drop.

Plenty of upclose action, great seats, terrible overpriced food.  Fast paced hockey!

1st intermission - The Hanson Bros vs. a visiting kids team.  Ended in a 3-3 tie.

Zamboni - this guy was moving!

Not one but TWO zambonis on the ice at the same time.

FIGHT!

Same Fight

Yes, same fight

Yes, still the same fight - right at the start of the 2nd period. 
Both players got 5 minute penalties and the Kootenay player left the ice, his face bleeding profusely.

Oilers Legends
I have to say that unlike football which I prefer watching on TV, hockey is one of those sports that (for me) is much more exciting live.  Its been years since I've been to a hockey game - the last two ended badly.  The NHL game I went too resulted in us sitting with my mother in the emergency room as she got treatment for food poisoning, and the University of Alberta Bears vs. Junior Oilers game I saw when I was a student there?  My friend got hit in the head with an out of control puck. 

If you love hockey but can't afford NHL prices, check out a junior league team near you.  The Oil Kings are part of the WHL and the hockey was outstanding. Support your local team today.  FYI, Edmonton won 3-2.

A Full Friday

Friday, January 13, 2012
Since both Mom and I were working yesterday, we chose to "celebrate" my birthday today, Friday. First up, lunch! Our original plans were to go to Boston Pizza but we decided to stop at Earls instead. Since it was only eleven-ish, there was almost no one else in the restaurant - I think one other table was occupied when we arrived.

Interior
I'm not sure why but with almost the entire restaurant empty, they sat us in the corner only two tables from the other diners.  Whatever, we had plenty of lovely natural light and could watch people walking by.
Lovely Mommikins
Notice the windows to the right of both these photos?  We actually switched seats JUST to take photos of each of us.  Behind my seat was just a plain brown wall which looked horrible when Mom tried to take a decent photo.  Good thing there we were practically alone!
More windows
Ice Cold Rhino?
Both of us really really REALLY wanted pasta for lunch - why would we choose Earls then? Go figure.  However, we managed to each find a different item on their menu that sounded like the perfect solution for our present pasta passion.  I love alliterations!  My tastebuds were looking for an alfredo sauce but the word was nowhere to be found on the menu.  However, I found the fettuccine alla pana which was fettuccine noodles with parmesan garlic cream sauce, 18 month aged prosciutto, peas, cracked black pepper, and Grana Padano parmesan.  It sounded delicious even with the prosciutto, something I'm nomally not a fan of at all. I also added chicken. 
Bland and boring
Sadly, this was an epic fail!  The best part of it were the peas and the toasted herb bread.  No flavour, very little sauce and I should have skipped the prosciutto which was extremely chewy. The caesar salad that we split had more flavour and pizzazz to it than this sad dish.  I've made better pasta dishes.

Mom's meal? Whole different story!  She went for the spicy seafood linguine.
Winner winner seafood dinner
The linguine included San Marzano tomato sauce, garlic, crushed chilies, scallops, prawns and seasonal white fish, and topped with herbed bread crumbs.  She cleaned her plate.  She loved it but would have preferred it without the whitefish which she found to be a bit distracting.  The seafood alone would have made it perfect.  I even tried a bite (without any fish/seafood) and the sauce was yummalicious.

Remember that salad I mentioned?  We asked for it to be a starter but had to remind our server about it after she dropped off our entrees so it ended up being eaten with our meals.  We weren't too pleased about that however it DID allow me to actually taste something during my meal.  While essentially just a generic caesar salad (but not a hint of bacon! Tsk tsk), the sauce was wicked garlicky.  Mmmmm.
 
Heavenly
We finished off our meal with dessert (it IS my birthday, after all).  While I tried to get her to say yes to the banana chocolate cake, we ended up ordering the cheesecake.  According to the menu, the topping was supposed to be blueberries but our waitress gave us a number of options.  We got creative and mixed their raspberry puree with a drizzle of chocolate syrup.  Sweet dessert perfection. The cheesecake itself was the perfect texture - not too heavy but not that light fluffy cheesecake that some places make.  The crumb crust could have had a tad bit more brown sugar but went well with the not too rich filling.  And the toppings we chose?  The sour/tart raspberry puree was offset lovingly with the sweet chocolate.  If I'd been at home, I'd have licked the last drops off the plate when we were done.

After we had finished feasting, we headed over to the Telus World of Science and had a wander around before visiting the Titantic Artifact exhibit.  When you enter the exhibit, a staff member hands you a boarding pass with the name and details about an actual passenger on it. The idea is to imagine yourself as this passenger while you explore the exhibit and then at the end you can find out whether or not you/they survived.  Neither of us were expecting it to be so emotional but we were each finding ourselves a bit overwhelmed by the connections to actual passengers the exhibit.  While there are a lot of artifacts such as random bottles, dishes, wall sconces, etc, there were also items from specific passengers and details about their lives and their fates posted nearby.  Most dramatic for me was learning that a number of passengers hadn't even booked passage aboard the Titanic but on other smaller ships making the crossing.  Due to a coal miner's strike though, the smaller ships were docked and the coal (and passengers) were transferred to the Titanic instead.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Who knows what would have happened to many of those who died if their original ships had transported them instead...? 

If you get the chance to view the exhibit (which was a bit smaller than I'd hoped but still fascinating), I highly recommend it.  You can also learn more by visiting the official website.

FYI:  My passenger was Lily May Futrelle (nee Peel), wife of Jacques Futrelle, both novelists, and Mom was Sylvia Mae Caldwell (nee Harbaugh).

Simple, Delicious, Yum

Remember how I said this year was going to be a "heart healthy" year?  One of my strategies is to eat a square (yes, just one!) of dark chocolate every day this year.  I began the year with Lindt's Ecuador 75% Cacao dark chocolate bar.  Mmmm, dark chocolate-y goodness.  Simple but oh so satisfying.  Next up on my list of bars to try was Lindt's "A Touch of Sea Salt" dark chocolate.  Ever since trying Purdy's line of Himalyan Pink Salt chocolates (dark and milk), chocolate has never been the same.  I was REALLY looking forward to bar #2.

Disappointment.

There was barely any hint of the saltiness I expected from a salted chocolate.  On top of that, with only 47% cacao (according to their list of ingredients on the back of the packaging), it tasted more like milk chocolate than the other dark bars Lindt puts out.  I'll finish the bar since I'm not about to waste decent chocolate but its not one I'll be purchasing again. 
Simply Delicious

Since I'm going to be out and about today, and treated to lunch (possibly Boston Pizza's perogy pizza), I wanted to eat a light breakfast.  I settled on something so simple yet so incredibly delicious: a toasted English muffin with melted cheese and sliced tomato.  I toasted the English muffin under the broiler so the tops was crisp but the bottoms were still soft and chewy.  A sprinkle of salt and pepper and you've got one of the easiest, simplest yet satisfying breakfasts.

What did you have for breakfast today?


Happy Birthday to Me

Thursday, January 12, 2012
Au Natural
Its my birthday.  Today, I am 39 years old. 
Here I am, sans wig, stubbly noggin, bushy eyebrows.  Me, in all my glorious wonder.  Enjoy.
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