Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: A Year in Review

-Spent New Years Eve with two amazing girl friends of mine. We had a fondue party and played the Sex and the City board game until it was time to countdown. It was a perfect evening.
-Tracy and I see the play Chicago when it comes to Calgary. It was my Christmas gift to her.
-A first, and probably a last for me: I go to my first ever strip club. It was such a random thing that is so uncharacteristic of me, but it was an experience nonetheless.
-Stephen’s birthday was at the beginning of the month. I baked him my first ever red velvet cake. My icing/piping skills were very poor, but he loved it just the same!
(Click on pictures to make them bigger)

-I turned 23 this month! I celebrated by inviting a couple of friends over for an amazing brunch at my place, and then heading to Banff for the night with family. We drank yummy margaritas, rode the gondola and laughed till our sides hurt. It was perfect.
-Stephen and I don’t spend Valentine’s Day (our first one!) together, do to his work schedule, but he leaves gifts for me in his apartment. Totally cute.
-I come back into contact with an old friend, and we start up Friday night girl’s nights. These are filled with crafting, drinking, cooking and eating. It was pure bliss while it lasted.
bdaydinner mountainbday

Stephen and I take a trip to Vancouver to visit my uncle, and his Dad and brother. This is my first time meeting his Dad! During the trip, Stephen and I celebrate our one year anniversary together.
-I officially started my 101 in 1001 list
Vancouver StephenVancouver

This is the first month that Stephen and I first start to talk seriously about moving in together.
-My dad celebrates his birthday, and I make a ridiculously amazing rum carrot cake. Which, by the way, totally falls apart when entrusted in the hands of the kitchen staff at a restaurant. We have dinner at the restaurant where Stephen worked, where we got special treatment all night long. It was a great way to celebrate my Dad’s special day!
Dadbday Stephenmeapril

-Stephen and I finalized our decision to move in together, and he starts talking with his landlord to try and make it happen. Meanwhile, Stephen still does sweet things like come over at 3am (after working all evening) to see me because I sounded upset on the phone.
-Stephen quits his current job without having a back up, and it freaks me the heck out, because we’re trying to move in together. Not to worry though, because less than two weeks later, he has a job at Earl’s.

-My sisters both graduate from high school! It was so awesome being there at their graduation. They both skip out on the banquet, and instead, we all have dinner at The Keg as a family.
-My uncle was visiting from Toronto, so to celebrate their graduation, we all go camping for the weekend. Stephen cooks amazing food over a camp fire, and we enjoy time away from it all. Except that it gets down to –2C overnight, and I practically freeze to death and swear to never go camping before July again. At least not in the mountains.
-About a week after coming home from camping, I pack up my stuff and move in with Stephen and his roommate, Cam.
-At the end of the month, my sister Tracy moves to Vulcan with her boyfriend.
tracyjessigrad lakelouise

-July seemed to be a rather uneventful month. It was pretty much spent turning the apartment into a real home and having my sister and her friends over for a ton of weekend parties and sleepovers.
-I start this blog.

-My friend Hannah comes to visit from Abu Dhabi. We have so much fun catching up over coffee and dinner dates.
-Stephen and I spend a weekend in Edmonton, where I finally get to meet his Mom for the first time. (She had been living in South Carolina until recently) I was so nervous, but we seemed to hit it off really well! Stephen’s brother, Christopher, and his girlfriend, Sharon, are visiting as well from Victoria. We all get along so well, and it makes me excited thinking about the possibility that this could be my future family. Sharon and I especially get along really well.

-After lusting after it forever, Stephen helps me buy a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer! Only I would find this significant enough to include in my yearly wrap up!
-I finally get out to Vulcan and get to see my sister’s ridiculously cute house. Cue the house envy.
-Did the Light the Night Walk for the second time in memory of my friend Rondi.
meandjesstracyshome tracyshouse lightthenight

-Officially start looking for new apartments. We starting to get really desperate to leave our current apartment because our roommate’s drinking problems are getting to be too much.
-Thanksgiving was spent at my Mom’s friend’s house. Stephen actually had the night off work, so he got to spend it with us!
-I hosted a ridiculously awesome chocolate and cheese fondue party for Halloween.
familyphotothanksgiving nudistonstrike

-The oldest girl I nanny for gets H1N1. I freak out about getting it myself, and also about her being ok. After a full round of everyone getting some version of the flu in their household, everyone comes out of it ok.
-Stephen and I find an amazing condo and we’re able to move in a couple of weeks early.
-Izel and I go see Kelly Clarkson in concert.

-Most of this month is spent decorating the condo and making it our home.
-I spend a huge chunk of my time baking, and then spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family!
-New Years Eve is supposed to be spent at my place, with Rebekka and Izel once again!

2009 was a huge year of growth for me. So many changes were made, and I hope that it’s just the beginning of the changes that will come in 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On New Years Resolutions…

Normally, I’m not a big fan of making New Years resolutions. Sure, more often than not, I will contemplate goals, write them down and maybe even put them up somewhere so I can see them. The only problem is, I don’t take them seriously. I feel like I have to make them because everyone is making them. The first one is always the same too: Eat better/be more active/lose weight. Want to know what I discovered after 23 years of being alive? I don’t need to make New Years resolutions to become a better me. Nope! I already do that all year long. I make little lists full of goals that I want to complete throughout the year, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. And the best part of that? I actually accomplish those goals! I make a list of things that I want to do over the summer, and I made a  list of 101 in1001. I realized that it’s the small things like that that make me a better person. I find so much more joy and fulfillment in the smaller things in life!

But! With that being said, I do want to set some goals for my blog, and the way I blog. Nothing big or life changing, just some things that I’ve been wanting to attempt for a while. So, without further ado, here they are:

  • Become more active in 20sb.  (That’s a link to my profile) 20sb is such a fantastic community of bloggers, and I love the amazing people I come across there. But just having a profile up and occasionally friending people isn’t really doing all that much for me. I need to put into it what I expect to take out of it. If you haven’t signed up for 20sb yet, you really should.
  • Make a blogroll. I read some pretty amazing blogs (at least, in my opinion they are amazing). Why not share that with everyone else? I love looking through other people’s blogrolls and discovering new blogs.
  • Become better at commenting. I know, I know. This one is probably pretty lame sauce, but it’s something I want to work on. There are a few blogs that I read all the time, yet I never leave comments. What am I afraid of? That they’ll laugh at me? That they don’t know I exist and don’t care about my little comment? That they already have 20+ comments and don’t need another one from me? I know how exciting it is to get a new comment, and so I want to return that favour. I want to interact with these bloggers more, and what the heck, maybe even develop a friendship. Crazy, I know!
  • Find my voice. I’ve mentioned a few times on here that I used to have a blog over at Live Journal, I’ve had my blog there for quite a long time actually. While at first I absolutely loved it, I eventually started to find that it was a chore. All people ever update about was their mundane day to day tasks, and it was starting to get repetitive for me. I was falling into the same rut. What I didn’t realize, is that I was craving posts with a little more substance. I wanted to connect more with the person behind the posts and see some personal growth. I didn’t even realize this until I read this post by Kyla Roma. I stopped posting on lj, but missed blogging in general, so I moved on over to blogger, which opened up a whole new world to me. But I have realized that I’ve fallen back into the same slump again. I’m posting about the mundane day to day stuff going on in my life. I’m not growing, or making any self-revelations here. And that’s what I want! Even though I’m not very good at it, I find writing to be very therapeutic, and I’m not taking full advantage of that. Why I feel the need to do that over a blog, I have no idea, but no one but a fellow blogger would understand.

So there you have it! The only New Years resolutions I am going to set for myself this year. I hope that you guys will bear with me and cheer me on when I need it. I’m also hoping that I’ll be able to be there for you when you need it most too.

Monday, December 28, 2009

For Brandy

Please take a moment out of your day to read this and to keep Brandy and her “hot awesome dude” in your thoughts and prayers.

My name is brandy. And I have a blog.

And a plea.

I use my blog to showcase the crazy I meet everyday, share the stories of the kids I teach and document my love for tequila, dairy products and the abdominal muscles of Ryan Reynolds. Rarely do I talk about personal issues on my blog- as personal as the dude that I adore (who I actually met through my blog- single ladies, let that be a very good reason to blog, the possibility of meeting someone as wonderful as my man), but I need your help. And it involves my dude.

He’s a guy who made math comics for my class, so they would love learning about addition. He’s the kinda guy who sends my friends gift cards when they are having hard times, who remembers every story I ever told him, who was the first person I celebrated with when I got a teaching job. He’s the guy who sent flowers to me at school- dozens of my favourite pink roses just because he loves me. He’s a guy who has spent a year patiently explaining (and re-explaining) everything there is to know about football during the important games when silence is preferred. He’s made me word puzzles and comics and stayed up late playing Scrabble with me (even though I beat him almost every time). He’s listened to me cry about school and family and jobs. He is everything I never knew I needed and everything I always knew I wanted.

The holidays have hit us hard. He’s recently been told he may have something called multiple myeloma- an incurable cancer, that gives a person an average of five years of continued life. Though this news has came as a shock, he continues to be exactly who has always been- spending his time worrying about me, rather than worrying about himself. He’s the most selfless individual I know- (he stayed late on Christmas Eve to work, so his co-workers could leave early) and a post like this would never be something that he would promote or encourage but when I’m overwhelmed and feeling helpless, the blogging community has always given me tremendous support and comfort, two things I desperately need at this time.

As I write this, the future is uncertain and we aren’t sure what’s happening. He’ll need to see an oncologist soon, to verify what’s going on in his body. My hope is that everyone who reads this think positive thoughts and if you are a person who prays, could you add him to your list? (You can refer to him as ‘brandy’s hot awesome dude’). If you don’t pray, please keep him in your heart.This cancer is only a possibility and I believe that the prayers and positive thoughts of people can make sure it never becomes a reality.

I want to give a big thank you to the blog owner who scraped their original blog plans and graciously put this up. My goal is to get as many people as possible to see and read this post. If you are reading this and want to help, copy and paste my plea into your blog or send a link through twitter, so more people can keep him in their thoughts. I would be so very grateful (even more grateful than I am to my friend who first showed me the picture of Ryan Reynolds on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. If you haven’t seen it, google it. You. Are. Welcome).

I realize this all sounds dramatic, a Lifetime movie in the making- but this is life. Right now. And I’m throwing away any hint of ego and am humbly asking for you to pray or think kind thoughts. If you are able to pass this on, thank you and if you know anything regarding MM- please email me (my email is on my blog). This isn’t a call for sympathy or a plea for pity. It’s just one girl hoping you can think positive thoughts for the person she adores. If my current heartache provides you with anything, let it be with the reminder that life is short, love is unbending and no one knows what could happen next. Maybe it is silly, but I really do believe that positive thoughts can make a huge difference. Thank you for reading this and if you haven’t already? Please tell someone you love them today.

I did.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Week In Review

This has been a ridiculously hectic week.

  • I stayed up until 1am several nights in a row trying to get all of my Christmas baking done.
  • Stephen and I bought a new TV. (42” Plasma) Completely unexpected, but very loved.
  • Had my two uncles and one of their boyfriend’s over for supper on Wednesday night. It was their first time seeing my apartment, and they loved it! Stephen made amazingly yummy Thai food.
  • Christmas Eve, I woke up feeling sick. Don’t know where it came from, but it threw a hitch into my plans. I took a nap, and then started feeling better. I made it to my parent’s place that evening, in time to have pizza for supper. Definitely not our usual Christmas Eve supper, but it worked. Opened up Christmas pajamas spent some time with the family. It was a pretty low key Christmas Eve.
  • Christmas Day, woke up bright and early! Everyone opened their gifts, and holy heck were we spoiled! Stephen and I received everything we wanted (microwave, crock pot, tea kettle,  and griddle, among other things). Other family arrived later in the day, and we ate a yummy turkey dinner. I tried out my Great Grandma’s recipes for banana bread and pumpkin pie this year. I was so nervous about it because she makes the best ever pumpkin pie and banana bread (no joke, she’s been told this many times by other people), and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to duplicate her recipes. She’s also famous for leaving out an ingredient when sharing a recipe, so that added on the pressure. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. She gave me the correct recipes, and my banana bread and pumpkin pie tasted fantastic! Everyone was incredibly impressed with me.
  • Boxing Day: I didn’t go out and do any shopping. Instead, I slept in for the first time in forever. Met up with the fam later in the day for dinner over at  my Uncle’s house. Sang some Christmas carols and then called it a night.

After all is said and done, I think this was a pretty good Christmas! Definitely glad that it’s over now, and I can get back to a regular sleeping schedule!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

candycanes pinkbulbsstarbucks (Image 1) (Image 2) (Image 3)

Eat, drink & be merry!
Merry Christmas, friends!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ten on Tuesday


1. When do you put up and take down your Christmas decorations?
I used to have strong feelings about this when I still lived with my parents. I always thought that the decorations should go up December 1st, and come down when kids were back in school (in January). This year though, Stephen surprised me with a Christmas tree and some ornaments for it, so my tree has been up since the last week of November, and I’m ok with that. I think I’ll take it all down a day or two after New Years.

2. What do you do to simplify the holiday season?
I try to get my shopping done as early as possible, because nothing is more stressful to me than last minute shopping. Due to circumstances beyond my control this year, I didn’t even start my shopping until this past Sunday. I was freaking out left, right and center over this. Thankfully Stephen came shopping with my on Sunday, and I just about finished it all in one day. Yesterday, I picked up my last two gifts, and all I have left to do is wrap!

3. What do you do to remind yourself and your family what the Christmas season is all about?
I try to spend as much time as possible with family and friends, and try not to emphasize the gift giving part. I know that’s not much, but my family and friends are pretty good about keeping in mind what Christmas is really about.

4. How do you spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?
Together with family, both days. We all gather at someone’s house (lately it’s been my parent’s) and we just spend as much time as possible together watching movies and eating a plethora of yummy food. It’s perfect.

5. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
Driving around, looking at Christmas lights and listening to Christmas music at full blast. Preferably RuPaul’s Christmas cd.

6.  Did you do the whole Santa thing growing up? What do you like/not like about continuing the tradition?
If you’re talking about whether or not I believed in Santa, then yes. Whole-heartedly. My parents never even told me that Santa isn’t real, I just figured it out on my own and informed them that I knew. Despite knowing that he isn’t real, and despite the fact that I am 23 years old, I still get Santa gifts. I can’t wait to have my own kids to continue the Santa tradition.

7. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
This is a tough one, because I don’t really have a favorite Christmas cookie. Nobody in my family bakes Christmassy cookies per say, but I love them all anyway.

8. How do you take your egg nog?
Straight up. Maybe with a bit of rum if I’m at a party.

9. What is your favorite Christmas carol and why?
If we’re talking about actual Christmas carols, then it’s Angels We Have Heard On High. I love the chorus to bits.
As for non-carol type Christmas songs, it’s Wham’s Last Christmas.

10. When was the last time you had a white Christmas?
The correct question here is when was the last time I didn’t have a white Christmas. The answer to that? I can’t even remember. I know it has happened, within the last few years even, but I can’t think of a year specifically.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Week In Review

  1. I’ve been slacking on the Best of ‘09 updates. I started really excited about this project..but then started losing interest because the prompts weren’t ones that I came up with on my own. I find that as it gets later in the month, the prompts are things that I really don’t feel like writing about. Don’t get my wrong, Best of ‘09 is a fantastic idea, and I loved doing it while I did, but I think maybe it’s time for me to move on and do my own thing. Last year, I did a giant post (not on this blog), reviewing my year month by month. I posted a picture from each month and wrote a little blurb about the highlights. I think that’s much more my style, and I’m contemplating do that again.
  2. I finished work on Wednesday! I’m officially off until around the first week of January.
  3. I’ve had a couple of meltdowns this week. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I’m guessing it’s the stress of everything that needs to be done. Thankfully I have an incredibly patient boy who loves me. I’m sure it’s been frustrating for him because I’m a big giant stress ball, but he’s been amazing.
  4. My best friend came home on Tuesday night! She goes to school in New Brunswick, so I haven’t seen her since the summer. I haven’t had a chance to see her yet, but we have plans to hang out tomorrow night. I’m so excited to catch up with her and give her her Christmas gift!!
  5. I went to a Christmas party last night. I really didn’t want to go at first, because I would know nobody there. I honestly spent all of Friday night trying to come up with excuses not to go, but since I couldn’t think of any, I gave in and went. I showed up half an hour early, to bring a pot so that the host could make mulled wine. No one even showed up to the party until at least an hour after it was supposed to start! Regardless, I had a relatively good time. I don’t drink wine normally (not a fan of the taste), but I promised Matt I would sample the mulled wine. I liked it, but discovered that red wine and I are not a good match. I ended up with a huge headache, and left the party earlier than I had intended. I’m sure everyone there thinks I’m a huge wimp, but that’s ok. Matt only lives several blocks away from me, so I had intended to walk home, by myself. At the party, Matt and his friend started telling stories about the bad things that have happened around our area, and it freaked me out! I called Stephen and made  asked him to come pick me up. He laughed, as I’m generally not the type of girl to get freaked out about walking 5 blocks alone.
  6. Stephen and I are heading out to do Christmas shopping today. I realize that this is a huge mistake, but it has to be done. I have never ever left my Christmas shopping to be done so close to Christmas, but this year, it just wasn’t possible for me to do it as early as I normally do. Now I’m stuck shopping for the next three days in overcrowded malls. Wish me luck. We’re heading to Crate & Barrel, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve never been before, but in my defence, Crate & Barrel is still relatively new to Calgary.
  7. I have a ton of Christmas baking to do over the next few days, so pray that I don’t go broke before I’m finished! I have a feeling there will be several late nights this week. I seem to be a midnight baker, and I’m not entirely sure why.
  8. Stephen and I did make it to Zoo Lights!! Since we had beautiful weather the night we went, everybody and their mother was there. It was so packed! I’m still glad we went though. I updated my facebook status with “Angela is at Zoo Lights…along with everybody else and their mother.” I received quite a few comments, all from friends telling me that they (and their mother’s!) weren’t at zoo lights. Ha. I have such funny friends.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happiness Is…

  • Gorgeous weather. It’s currently 5C (that’s 41F for my American friends), and I am loving it! I’m laying on the couch with the balcony door open. Side note: We live in a freakishly hot apartment. The heat is currently off, and I’m still hot, hence the balcony door being open. We only turned on the heat when it got below –20C (-4F).
  • Zoo Lights tonight!! Keep your fingers crossed for me that we can go. We had originally planned to go two weeks ago, when it was around –15C, thinking we weren’t going to get better weather than that. I ended up feeling sick, so we skipped it. Thankfully we waited, because the weather is much better! I do realize that now everyone and their mother will be going, but you have to make sacrifices people! I really hope that my cell phone camera can take a couple of decent pictures…I need to get myself a real camera soon.
  • Boyfriends who cook for you. Stephen scored an awesome deal on a rack of lamb at work, so when I came home last night, he was in the kitchen cooking me supper! He wouldn’t let me know what it was at first, but it was worth the wait! We had lamb, roasted potatoes and three pepper salad. Yum! He even busted out the good plates! It’s things like this that make me want to marry him instantly. Also, he hadn’t changed out of his work clothes, so it was like a had my own personal chef. Ha, it always cracks me up when he cooks in our kitchen in his uniform. Maybe I should have had him put his hat back on…
  • Christmas vacation: I’m officially off work until January! The only downside to this: I won’t be getting paid again until mid January. I’m trying not to focus on that right now.
  • 50 0f the world’s best design blogs: This probably makes me a huge geek, but I stumbled upon this list today! I made my way through the list and added a few new blogs to my Google reader. Guess what? I was already reading two of the blogs listed: Young House Love (#12) Decor8  (#6). It makes me want to decorate the apartment all over again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ten on Tuesday


1. If you could change anything about your physical appearance, what would it be?
I’m not a big fan of this question. It makes me focus on my negative aspects instead of encouraging me to love who I am. Cheesy, I know, but I’m working on my self-confidence!

2. Is there a habit in others that you find annoying?
Spelling. I’ll get right to the point: Lately, while reading blogs, I’ve been noticing that instead of saying “Voila!”, they say “Wa La”. Annoys me so dang much. Learn the proper way to say it please.

3. What is your favorite recipe using ground beef?
I love throwing ground beef in my spaghetti sauce. Not exactly revolutionary, but it tastes good and it’s easy.

4. What was your favorite book as a kid?
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.  It warms my heart.

5. Did you work as a teenager and if so, where?
I worked for about five seconds at Wendy’s. I volunteered a whole lot more than I worked.

6.  Did you work while in college and if so, where?
Yeah…didn’t go to college. Life plans changed and I worked as a nanny longer than expected. You still love me though, right?

7. When you go to sleep do you like  total darkness or semi? When you go to sleep do you need quiet or is some noise ok?
Total darkness and silence. I’m a ridiculously light sleeper.

8. When doing laundry, fabric softener or not?
Fabric softener, but not in the load with towels. Stephen read somewhere that it decreases the amount of absorbency.

9. Open toed or closed toed shoes?
Depends on what the situation is.

10. Would you rather be blind or deaf?
I can’t answer this question! It freaks me out!!!!

11. Dangle or stud earrings?
Stud. I think dangly earrings are so pretty, but I find that they look odd on me.

12. Bottled water or tap?
Tap. Unless I’m out somewhere and I’m dying of thirst, then I’ll buy a bottle of water. Otherwise I think bottled water is a waste of money. Buy a Brita Filter or something if you’re worried about drinking straight out of the tap.

13. What do you put on pancakes?
Syrup. Fruit if I’ve got it. Powdered sugar if I’m feeling adventurous. Jam if it’s peanut butter pancakes.

14. On a long trip would you rather drive or fly?
Fly. Unless we’ve made a point to make it a road trip so that we could see the sights, I would rather just get there the fastest way possible.

15. Do you prefer classic old movies or new? 
Depends on how old we’re talking about here. Don’t hate me for saying this, but I usually prefer new. Doesn’t mean I won’t watch classics, or that I hate them, I just enjoy new movies.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best of ‘09

What’s the best change you made to the place you live?

The best change I’ve made is just moving out, period. Up until June, I had lived with my parents and had never moved away from home before. I know. Weird. Surprisingly enough, not at all uncommon with a lot of my friends. Anyway, moving on…

The original plan was to wait until Stephen’s lease was up (this month), but by June, I just couldn’t wait any longer and moved in with Stephen and his roommate Cam. While it was nice being away from home, the other apartment never felt like my own home. In October, we started looking for new apartments and found our current condo- jackpot! We moved in the middle of last month and it finally feels like my home. I love every inch of this place, and wouldn’t trade it for anything at the moment.

A Week In Review

  • This week has been miserably cold. I’ve lost count of the amount of layers that I have to put on before going out the door!
  • Free meal from Stephen’s chef, because Stephen worked a few hours on his day off. It was a nice impromptu date night. I also got to see a server go out and make a snow angel, without a jacket, in –20C weather. Awesome!
  • Tried to bake a cake, but the baking Gods were against me this week. Let’s pray that they are in my favour when I start Christmas baking!
  • My mom’s birthday was on Friday! My sisters and I went over last night to celebrate. We decorated the tree and pretty much just hung out together. It was nice.
  • Best of ‘09 is still going strong. (There’s a button on my side bar, click on it to check it out!) This is probably the most I have ever posted! It’s fun reflecting back on the past year and remembering things that I had all but forgotten.
  • Stephen is back to working late evening shifts. His general start time is 5pm, and he’ll often come home after 1am. Friday night he didn’t come home until 3:30am. I don’t like spending the evenings alone, and I hardly ever get to see him when we’re both fully awake. I look forward to the day (probably far down the road) when we both work similar schedules. That would be nice.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Best of ‘09: New Food

Indian food, hands down. This really isn’t a new food in my life, just a new appreciation for it. Butter chicken, Tandoori chicken, Gulab Jumin and NAAN BREAD!!!! Yes, I am obsessed with naan. I even tried to make it myself once, and we barbecued it. It was awesome. I’m already planning on having my birthday dinner at an amazing Indian restaurant. I’m so glad that my friends share in my love of Indian food!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Freak Out Much?

I’m having a mini melt down over here. You want to know why? It has to do with baking. My one stress release is stressing me the heck out.

I consider myself a pretty good baker. Not Bakerella good, or even good enough to start my own blog for that matter, but I’m decent. My family and friends all adore my baking, which gives me loads of confidence. Right now though, I’m seriously lacking it.

I’m trying to build up a collection of recipes for staples like chocolate cake, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies. You know, simple things. Except chocolate cake is giving me grief. I don’t want anything fancy, just a go-to recipe for when someone requests a chocolate cake from me. I’ve tried several different recipes, and when I thought that maybe I had found the one I loved, I decided I could do better. I tried a new recipe tonight, and it’s currently cooling on my counter…but I can already tell I’m not happy with it. I want a cake that will produce two good size layers. I somehow overlooked the fact that the ingredients for the new cake would produce two tiny layers that I really should have just kept as one. It’s 11pm, and I don’t really think I have the time to find another recipe and bake a new cake.

I decided to stick with it and start making my chocolate ganache. I pull out the scale to weigh my chocolate and the scale doesn’t even turn on. (Picture me saying this through gritted teeth, I’m pretty frustrated right now.) Something sounds loose in the scale, so I grab a screwdriver and take it apart. I have no idea what the heck I’m supposed to do with the loose part, so I just leave it in there and put it all back together. Guess what? Scale started working again. The ganache is currently chilling out in the fridge (I want to use it as a frosting), and I’m currently trying to chill out myself. This cake is supposed to be my gift to my mom tomorrow for her birthday dinner…but it’s turning into one big disaster. I just wish someone would hand me a recipe book filled with all the answers I need. Maybe I just need to stop being a perfectionist. Or maybe my mom should have requested a dang cheesecake.

Best of ‘09: Best Place

I can’t even narrow this down to one choice. How can you expect me to, when there are so many amazing places that I discovered this year? Instead of just one place, you’re going to get a list of the top places that I discovered this year.

-Vancouver’s West End: Love love love! This is exactly where I picture myself living in my twenties before getting married and having children. I adored walking down Davie St. every day and shopping on Robson St. I need to move to Vancouver, and soon.

-Inglewood in Calgary: I’ve lived in Calgary for nearly…ten years now, I believe. I hadn’t been to Inglewood until the end of this summer, and I loved it! There’s such a random collection of junk shops and beautiful shops all mixed in together, that I couldn’t even focus! Everywhere I turned there was something new and eclectic to look at.

-Nectar Desserts: I thought I had died and gone to heaven! This place is a dream to me. The desserts are so exquisitely wonderful and are exactly the type of thing that inspires me to be a better baker. The decor is so cute, I just wish they had more pictures on their website. They have tea parties on Sundays!!!! I seriously need to attend one. If you wear a hat, you get a discount! They even teach classes. I would love to attend The Secrets of French Macarons class, but unfortunately, $150 is out of my price range. I need to get myself back to this place, and soon! Anyone want to come with me?

-Mission: My new neighborhood! I hadn’t ever spent much time in Mission before, but I have fallen in love with it! We live in a fantastic area, close to 17th Ave, and close to a bunch of amazing restaurants and coffee shops! While eating at Earl’s the other night with Stephen, I was looking out the window, at the gently falling snow, the people and Christmas lights everywhere, and realized how in love with my neighborhood I am! This is exactly where I want to be living, since I can’t leave Calgary just yet.

2009 has been a year of discovery for me in terms of exploring my city. It’s made  me realize that Calgary may not be as awful as I make it out to be.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best of ‘09

Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

Maintaining good friendships has always been a struggle for me. I give away too freely of myself, and in turn, certain friends walk all over me. The problem is, I don’t often realize it until it’s too late.

Just before 2009, my best friend (of 4 years) and I “broke up”. To make an incredibly long story short, once I started dating Stephen, this best friend grew incredibly jealous, and started making ridiculous demands of me. It got to the point where he sent me a nasty message on facebook and I had to call it quits. Obviously there’s a lot more to the story, but I’m not going to write it all out here. Even though this happened back in 2008, the aftermath is something I struggled with well into this year. What if I did the wrong thing? What if it all really was my fault like he said it was? I kept going over it in my mind and just could not let it go. Talking it over with my family, Stephen and two other friends made me realize certain things: I was much happier now than I had been in ages, and the friendship with the other guy was really just not right for me. I started realizing all of things that were wrong in our friendship: the things that I could have done better, and the things that he could have changed. Even though I have finally (!) made peace with the end of this friendship, it was a huge, and mostly silent, struggle for me for many months.

I’ve learned a lot about myself though. I’m stronger than I thought I was. I have more self worth than I realized. So when recently, a so called friend suddenly decided to “break up with me” for absolutely no reason, and through text no less, I let it go. Sure, I tried to work it out at first, but I quickly realized that she was looking for the wrong kind of attention and being a drama queen over absolutely nothing, I let her go. I can’t always be giving away everything that I have and taking nothing back in return, so if you’re not going to make this friendship work, and genuinely love me for who I am, we have to move on. It’s probably better for us both in the end.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best of ‘09: Moment of Peace

Out of all the prompts so far this month, I feel that this the one that will have so many different interpretations. I’ve thought about this one all day long, and this is the best that I could come up with. I don’t feel like I had an big revelations this year that brought upon a sense of peace, but I do feel like I am finally discovering the little things that truly make me happy.

For the past 3ish years, I’ve started work between 7-7:30am. I’m definitely not an early morning person, so it was rough on me. This past September, the youngest guy I look after started kindergarten, so my start time was pushed back to 11am. I started waking up about 20 minutes earlier than I had to so that I could sit and enjoy my coffee instead of throwing it in a travel mug to drink on the bus. Then I started waking up half an hour earlier because I was using my coffee time to read blogs. Realizing that this half hour wasn’t enough time, I began waking up an hour earlier. Waking up to freshly brewed coffee and then reading blogs in my pyjamas is bliss. It sets me up to be in a better mood for the day, which I find gives me more patience with the kids. Stephen thinks I’m crazy for trading in that extra hour of sleep, but supports anything that will make me happier. This one little hour every morning is my definition of peace in my life this year.

Ten on Tuesday

Check out Roots and Rings for other Ten on Tuesday posts.

1. Cost aside, if you could go (back) to college for anything besides what you currently “do,” what would you study?
I'd take the Baking and Pastry Arts course at Sait. If money really was no object, I'd find the best school I could afford and take the course there.

2. What do you do for a living? Do you love it/hate it?
I'm a nanny for 4 kids. This job truly has its ups and downs. Not only do you have to make sure that you have a good relationship with the kids, you also have to make sure that you have a good relationship with the parent(s). Right after high school, I became a nanny for 10 year old twin girls. While I generally enjoyed my time with them, I found that the mother and I didn't get along to well. I quit about 10 months in. Now with my current family, things are much different, I love the kids and I love the parents. Even though I love the kids, we still have our ups and downs. There are days when I can't wait to hand the kids back over, and I go home swearing I'll never have kids again. Other days, I go home wanting to have 4 kids. Over all, I'm incredibly lucky to have this job.

3. What is your favorite Christmas ornament? If you don’t celebrate Christmas, what is your favorite holiday tradition?
This is a tough one…I don’t have a lot of ornaments yet, since this is my first Christmas since I’ve moved away from home. I did make a pretty sweet wreath though that I totally love.

4. Name something you could literally do without for the rest of your life.
Snow and cold weather. (The go together, so really, it’s only one thing.) It was almost –30C when I left for work this morning. I’m currently wearing fleece pj pants, fleece socks and my housecoat, and I’m wrapped in a blanket, yet I’m still freezing. At my parent’s place, my room was in the basement, so often times I would go to sleep wearing fleece pj pants and a hoodie. Seriously.
And this isn’t even the coldest that it will get this winter. It’ll inch closer to –40C. And if we’re lucky, we may see a repeat of -50C.*(These are all with wind chill, by the way.) I hate winter so dang much, and it’s probably because I live in Calgary. I’d gladly trade in the snow for the rain of Vancouver. Winter isn’t this cold the entire season through, but I just like to complain.
*I should probably point out that –50C doesn’t happen as often as the others low temps, but I have seen it happen.

5. If you were going to have any kind of “cosmetic procedure,” what would it be?
Honestly, I can’t even pick one. It freaks me the heck out.

6. Do you have any “collections”? (comic books, shoes, etc.)
I collect Paris related items. Pictures and little Eiffel Towers mostly.

7. At what age did you get your first cell phone?
I was 18. I cry myself to sleep at night when I hear that 8 year olds are getting cell phones, and 10 year olds are getting iPhones. Uggghhhhh.

8. What is currently in your purse (or pocket or backpack if you’re a guy)?
I have so much junk in my purse that it’s ridiculous (keep in mind that I am a nanny):
Hand sanitizer, Tide to go pen, Lip chap x2, A book, Martha Stewart Magazine, Band-Aids, Wallet, Keys, iPod, Gum, Reactine Pills, A cookie cutter (um, what?), Drawings from my nanny kids….and probably a few other things that I can’t see.

9. Are you a neat-freak or a slob ? *this applies to house, office, car, etc.
I’m somewhere in the middle. During the work week, I hardly clean at home. But on the weekend, I usually do a good clean up. Luckily Stephen and I aren’t overly messy people.

10. What kind of parent do you think you will be? If you’re already a parent, what is your style?
This is a tough one. Thanks to being a nanny, I’m already full of ideas for how I’ll do things different when I have my own children, but to be honest, it’s hard to say what kind of parent I’ll end up being. Hopefully a loving and caring one.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Best of ‘09: Blog Find of the Year

Until recently, I've lived comfortably in the world of live journal blogging. Last year sometime, I started discovering Blogs outside of the lj realm, and just this year, I created my blogspot account. While most of the Blogs that I read have been discovered this year, The Blogess is one that I have just discovered in the past couple of weeks. She's so stinking funny, that every time she posts I wonder how I never knew about her blog until recently. Stephen isn't into reading blogs, save one or two, but when I showed him this gem, he laughed just as hard as I did. Especially at the James Garfield posts (1 & 2). Go ahead and read it, you’ll fall in love.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Best of ‘09: Night Out

Best of 2009 Challenge!

There are several night outs that stick out in my mind…but the best would have to be my 23rd birthday in February. My parents, their best friend, sisters and their respective boyfriend and best friend, along with Stephen and I all packed up and drove ourselves to Banff for the night to celebrate. For everyone’s birthday, we always try to do a family celebration, hence the reason for me partying with my fam.

If you’re not into winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, then really, there’s not a whole lot to do in Banff. It just so happens to be the closest place to Calgary that’s not dreadfully awful. We rented 4 hotel rooms and decided to live it up for a night. First stop was Magpie & Stump for some dinner. It had good food and the best Margaritas I have ever tasted. Seriously, I still dream about them (and may or may not be planning another trip back to have more). There’s a good chance I had two Margaritas and then sampled everyone else’s. Hey, I was the birthday girl! I do what I want! My mom bought a round of tequila shots for those who wanted to participate…which ended up being me, my mom and my sister’s boyfriend. Funniest part is, my mom isn’t much of a drinker! Apparently Magpie & Stump is known for their tequila though, so we couldn’t pass it up. Someone took a video of us doing the shots, and my favourite part is at the end when you can’t see my mom, buy you can definitely hear her shout “TEQUILA!!” Awesome. We got a lot of looks that night.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and proceeded to have everyone over to my hotel room for hang out time. We had a Jacuzzi, and you better believe that we bought bubble bath specifically for this trip. My parents and their friend retired to their respective rooms early, but the rest of us punks continued to….well, drink. We had an amazing game of sociables going on and everyone was having a good time. At one point, one of the guys ran across the hall to get something from the other room, and someone from the front desk walked by and looked into our room and FREAKED OUT. For real, he started giving us major hell for 6 people being in one room “after hours”. Side note: A lot of skiers will pay for one room, and then try to sneak in as many people as possible to sleep at night. Hence the front desk guy’s freak out, he thought we were doing the same. We got pretty worried about causing a ruckus and getting kicked out, so everyone dispersed quickly. Once back in her room, my sister called my mom to tell her what happened. Here comes mom to the rescue! She went down to the front desk and explained to the guy that we had 4 rooms, and we had specified when booking them that it would be to celebrate a birthday. The guy got really apologetic really fast….and our party resumed.
Such a good night!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best of ‘09: Book

Thinking back on all of the books I’ve read in the last year, I was only able to narrow it down to two books that touched me: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Both of these books has inspired me in their own ways (Eat, Pray, Love: to discover myself in Italy and The Kite Runner: to re-evaluate my friendships and loyalties), and I read my way through each of them in record time, never wanting to put them down for even a minute. I’ve loaned both of these books out to friends, and I hope to get them back soon, as I would love to read them again and again.

The Kite Runner has been made into a movie, but I have yet to see it. Eat, Pray, Love is currently being made into a move that I just may have to see at some point!

Friday Fill-Ins

fridayfillin #153

1. You get the day off, but you’re snowed in.
2. It’s only right to stay in your pyjamas all day long.
3. It's definitely winter time.
4. I’m not even kidding, this snow is ridiculous!
5. I feel more like staying in my cozy bed with a cup of tea.
6. All of these chores have tired me out...goodnight!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm (not) looking forward to cleaning my apartment, tomorrow my plans include attempting to have a Christmas party and Sunday, I want to get some groceries!

As you can tell, I’m a little bitter about all the snow we got today. I was supposed to be hosting a surprise birthday party for my mom tonight, but with all of the snow, no one is going to venture out of their warm houses. I’m really hoping that it doesn’t ruin my Christmas party tomorrow night! I tried to take a picture to share with you guys, but this seriously doesn’t even do it justice. I just don’t feel like venturing out into this mess to get a better picture :)


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Best of ‘09: Trip & Restaurant Moment

I’ve stumbled upon some fellow bloggers participating in Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. I thought that this would be a great way to think back over the past year and pick out the highlights. Considering I missed December 1st, I figured I would go ahead and combine yesterday and today. It just so happens that these two experiences coincide with each other anyway!

Best Trip: Just so happens to be my only trip of the year, ha! Doesn’t matter though, because it was truly an amazing trip. Stephen and I decided to get away for Spring break and headed to Vancouver and Victoria for a week. I’ve been to Vancouver before, but it was during my grade 10 band trip. It was amazing to be able to explore the city together…Stephen and I are both madly in love with Vancouver now! After 4 days of staying with my uncle, we took the ferry to Victoria and stayed with Stephen’s dad. Which by the way, was the first time I’ve met him! Holy heck was I nervous, but we had a good time.
Even though there were minor mishaps along the way: I had strep throat, Stephen’s roommate went M.I.A for two days back in Calgary and the kitchen called Stephen, finding out that the cab ride to the ferry would cost us $80….none of it mattered in the end, we had a blast. So much so that we want to move to Vancouver someday.

Restaurant Moment: Our one year anniversary happened to fall during our stay in Vancouver. Knowing this well before going on the trip, Stephen and I decided to go all out and splurge on a fancy dinner to celebrate. We researched restaurants online, and finding one that sounded amazing, we booked a reservation. The sole reason for booking this reservation was base on the menu we found online; French cuisine for me and venison for Stephen. Once we actually arrive at the restaurant, Stephen and I are whisked away into a room to be seated…alone. Seriously, no other diners were around, they were in another part of the restaurant. No big deal. We start looking over the menu and realize it is nothing like the menu we saw online. There was no venison (which Stephen had been salivating over for a month), but there was plenty of fish. Neither Stephen nor I enjoy any sort of fish. Awesome. We decide that we’re just going to ditch the place entirely, since it was nothing like we expected. When our very snooty waiter came back, Stephen asked him about the Venison which made the waiter think we were crazy, no lie. Stephen apologized and told him we were going to leave. We both grabbed our coats and walked sheepishly out of the restaurant.

Earlier in the day, we had passed by a restaurant called Relish that we had thought looked interesting, so we decided to attempt to locate it once again. We wandered around Vancouver for nearly an hour, on foot, trying to find the place. We finally did and luckily enough, got a table right away. The food was amazing! The atmosphere was just right and our waiter was incredibly nice. Relish was a much better choice.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pity Party

I’m having a pity party, and I’m sorry for forcing you to come. Stephen isn’t home to comfort me (he’s working a closing shift), so I turn to you dear blog friends, for comfort.

A very odd thing happened tonight, and it happened in about 3 texts. A friend of mine, that I have known for about 10 years now, texted me after work and seemingly ended our friendship. Seriously! I tried to text her back and see what was going on, but she offered no explanation, only instead telling me that I shouldn’t bother inviting her out anymore, she won’t come. She said that she’s “not breaking up with me (if that’s the term I want to use)”. I just don’t get it! If she’s “not breaking up with me”, how come I’m not allowed to see her or invite her out anymore? Once I got home, I tried calling her to get more of an explanation, but there was no answer. So that’s it, 3 texts and we seem to be done.

I cried. I’m so sensitive to things like this, as I have had horrible luck with friends lately. I’m feeling a bit numb right now.
I put on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show as background noise…and it’s not even my type of show.

Ugh. I never wanted any of my posts to be so depressing, but I just needed to write it out and have someone read it. And having done just that, I’m already starting to feel better.

Tomorrow is another day.

Ten on Tuesday

Roots and Rings

1. What was the last concert you’ve been to?
Kelly Clarkson just a couple of weekends ago. She was amazing!
2. Is it easy to make you cry?
It’s so ridiculously easy, you have absolutely no idea.
3. Do you ever feel like people underestimate you?
Would it make sense if I said that people over-estimate me? Because most times, I feel like people expect way more out of me than I do.
4. Name 7 completely random things that you like:
Cupcakes, Ice cream, Coffee, Cell Phones, Date Night, Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers, Baking!
5. What’s your favorite reality TV show and why?
Big Brother. I don’t know what it is about that show, but I just can’t get enough of the drama!!
6. What is your favorite hair care product?
It was Dove shampoo and conditioner, but I’ve recently purchased Sense shampoo and conditioner and it’s pretty amazing.
7. What’s your favorite song at the moment?
This is a tough one. Probably I Want You by Kelly Clarkson.
8. What’s the number one thing on your Christmas wishlist?
Honestly, nothing really. But if you’re going to drag it out of me, more baking supplies.
9. Have you ever lost your cell phone?
I once thought that I did, and retraced the route that I walked home from the mall (in the dark). Turns out it fell out of my pocket, in the bathroom….at home.
10. Did you attack the hordes of shoppers for Black Friday?
I live in Canada, so the answer would have to be no.

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