Refuse to be Passive

Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Download Your Talents

In Life in General on July 28, 2010 at 9:59 am

Do you ever wish you could download talents like you can download music? You wouldn’t have to put in all the practice to be good at woodworking, you just would be. And then you wouldn’t have to find places to dispose of all your messed up initial projects. I have a desire to be able to be good at woodworking, but don’t want to put in the time or money (mostly the money) to be able to do it. I don’t want to have to find a garage to rent, buy tools, buy materials, and then spend hours slaving away only to discover that even thought you measured twice and cut once, the pieces still don’t fit together properly. And then you have a lopsided desk that was supposed to look amazing, but now looks like a child built it. And then you’ve wasted your time and money and have to bring this monstrosity to the eco-station where they charge you ten bucks to dispose of it. Strangely, I’m not speaking from experience, but this is how I’d imagine it would play out. But what if you could take that old night stand, sand it down, fill in holes, add a top, add some legs and come out with a desk that looks amazing. I know some people can, but I don’t even have the tools to get started. It would be a thousand dollar desk by the time I invested in the equipment I would need. And then I’d probably screw it up anyways.
Where does this rant come from? Well, I’m moving out of my current townhouse, a two-bedroom, into a little bachelor suite, a max. of 450 square feet I’d say. It’s basically one big room, and the kitchen takes up a large amount of the space, so I’m looking for creative ideas for multi-purpose items all while doing it on a budget. And I don’t mean the “House and Home” budget, where a deal on a dresser is $400. But that’s a rant for another day.
Anyway, over the next few weeks I’ll be scouting out garage sales and flea markets to see what excellent finds there are, and then work with what I’ve got.

Starbucks Bold–Ugh

In Food, Uncategorized on July 27, 2010 at 11:08 am

My boss stopped at Starbucks on the way to work and picked us up drinks, which is pretty fantastic. She called in to see what we wanted and since I was going for black coffee and am not a fan of their Pike Place blend, I decided to try their bold pick of the day. I took one sip and wanted to throw out the drink. It was so burnt that it didn’t even taste like coffee, more like a piece of toast you put down a second time and forgot about. I thought Pike Place was bad for tasting burnt, but whatever this is, it’s worse, a lot worse.
I think I might stop buying Starbucks altogether, even when someone offers me a drink from there. I’m always disappointed. I already focus on hitting the local places for coffee, and this has just entrenched the importance of that even more. The coffee places I frequent in Edmonton never give me burnt coffee. If you want a really good cup’a joe, check these places out: Transcend Coffee, Three Bananas Cafe, Leva, and Credo. I’ve heard others sing the praises of DaCapo, but as I’ve never been there, I’m not ready to endorse it yet. Transcend is right next door, and they’re internationally recognized for their coffee. They  do great coffee, and that’s that.

The Irish have landed!

In Life in General on July 27, 2010 at 9:22 am

This morning I forgot the charger for my cell phone at home. Annoying but true. So when I clicked my phone on this morning I had my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t just shut down on me. Thankfully it didn’t, it just gave annoying intermittent beeps to remind me of what I already knew, the battery was low. I had enough time to shoot off a quick text and check two messages, which were both from the same person. But these messages put a smile on my face. Here’s why.

Whenever I go hosteling I give out my contact information to anyone I hang out with on the off chance that they ever come to Edmonton and want a local’s view. Today, for the first time, I had a message on my cellphone from a fellow traveler.  His name is Neil and he’s from Ireland. I met him a couple of weeks ago in Vancouver. He had intended to take the rest of the summer going through the Rockies and then eventually head for Edmonton.  Apparently he made it here early. I’m sad I missed both his calls and as he’s new to town, he doesn’t have a cell phone yet. His timing is rather off, as I have plans for the next two evenings, and then head out of town for the long weekend and won’t be back until Tuesday evening. But I’m sure he’ll survive his first week in Edmonton on his own just fine. Now if only we can actually manage to get a hold of each other…

A new lease on life.

In Life in General on July 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

I just signed a rental agreement for a tiny bachelor suite I’ll be moving into come September. It’s probably 450 square feet, and not much storage outside of a tiny closet and the kitchen cupboards. Time to get creative! One thing I’ll be doing is purging of stuff. There are a couple of keys to making a bachelor apartment work. One of them is keep the “stuff” to a minimum, otherwise your place always looks messy. And the other thing is, don’t fight against the challenges, embrace them.

It’s one big room. I could fight against the fact that currently the kitchen is the focal point of the room, or I could embrace it. Don’t try to hide the kitchen- simply make it fabulous.

I could use a room divider to try to create a bedroom section or I can be creative and turn my bed into a multi-purpose piece– a co-ed (couch/bed). Okay, so I totally made up that term. I’m looking at this Concord Daybed, which would also allow for storage underneath. My older sister, Erika and I hit up Ikea to determine good layout ideas and such. Ikea always exhausts me, and while I don’t know that I’d buy much furniture there, but it definitely got the ideas going.

The area of the city I’m going to be living in is three blocks from the river valley and has decent bus service to Whyte, downtown, and work. So at least when the weather is good, I’ll make use of public transit. Just another way to reduce environmental impact.

The second key is to make everything multi-purpose. Use an old trunk for a coffee table, and you can store afghans inside. Use your bed as a couch (as mentioned above).  Use bar stools at the counter rather than having a kitchen table.

I’m pretty excited, and I’ve already had a number of people offer to store any extra stuff that I might want to keep for the future, but don’t have room for in my new place. This is fantastic, as my camping stuff, etc. won’t have a place in my new place. It’s like getting a storage unit for free! Whoot! Gotta love friends.

Flushing Toilets—It’s Not That Hard People!

In Life in General on July 22, 2010 at 4:25 pm

We’ve all had it happen. You walk into a stall in the public washrooms and the person before you has neglected to flush. As far as I know, flushing the toilet isn’t rocket science. And on the whole, the “if it’s mellow let it yellow” thing only works at home. So why is it that so often you are forced to flush the toilet before you use it?

Is it, perhaps, that people don’t want to flush the toilet because they’d have to touch the handle? It shouldn’t be, because if the handle is that grimy, so is the lock on the stall. But, if it makes you feel better, you can always use your shoe to flush the toilet–you don’t even need to take it off your foot! Although I suppose you could, and then use it like a glove…

What other reasons could there be? Well, there’s the “forgot” reason, but really people. By now, shouldn’t flushing the toilet be second nature? Did you leave your brain in the toilet? Okay, maybe that’s a little mean.

So here are my top 7 (because I couldn’t think of 10) excuses for not flushing the toilet:

1. Your dog ate your homework. –Right….okay, so that doesn’t really count.

2. You’ve got claustrophobia and have to get out of the stall as soon as possible.

3. You don’t  any part of your body, clothed or not, to touch the toilet handle for fear of disease.

4. You’ve just discovered you went into the other gender’s washroom and want to sneak out without being noticed.

5. Someone has pranked your toilet and your butt now has a lobster attached to it.

6. The fire alarm went off and you take very seriously the instructions to stop what you’re doing and get out.

7. You went to grab your camera, because that is the exact yellow you want for your kitchen walls.

For the love of fresh fruit

In Food on July 22, 2010 at 9:13 am

I hope that someday I live in a location where fresh fruit is available in abundance, and at a decent price. Currently I live in a city where all the fruit has to be shipped at least 12 hours, which doesn’t make for cheap fruit, let me tell you. And usually it has been harvested early so that it keeps well until it’s sold. But there is something about allowing fruit those extra few days on the tree to plump up and develop scrumptious flavours. Even if you have a perfectly ripe peach (which is hard to attain if it’s been shipped– one side usually ripens before the other and you either have a half hard peach or a mushy mess), but it’s been picked early, you won’t get that juicy sweetness you’re looking for.

I just read someone’s blog about poaching apricots and serving it with creme fraishe. It sounded absolutely divine. But what I really envied was the fact that she talked about splitting the apricot along the seem and pulling out the pit–the apricot staying fully intact. Now I don’t know about you, but pitted fruit is usually a bit of a war zone for me. The pits never come out easily, and this too I am convinced is from them being harvested too early. But oh, poached, spiced apricots; I just had breakfast and I’m still drooling.

Chew it.

In Life in General on July 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

I read a quote the other day, “Bite of more than you can chew, then chew it.” I forget who said it, but I feel like it exemplifies my life right now. I’ve just gotten back from vacation and have discovered that being gone for just a week leaves a plethora of things to be caught up on! This morning I got up at six-thirty and tackled the weeds in my garden. They were huge, and I can’t help but wondering why they grow so well, but my pepper plants are still piddly. The ground is fairly mucky from consistent rain, but at least that means the roots let go fairly easily. My lettuce is finally up, and my tomato plants are taking off. My bean plants for some reason decided they didn’t want to come up any more than three inches, and so are producing only one bean at a time. Dang that’s annoying. But my carrots and spinach and kale look good, even if my parsnips didn’t come up at all, which makes me sad. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m just inept at gardening.

I was delighted when I got home the other day to find my lawn shorn short, but it was a short-lived happiness when I saw that my rhubarb plant had been demolished, and whoever cut my lawn mowed over my baby tree! That made me mad. They’re not even my plants! My sublet is up in a month and a bit and I have to tell the owners that their baby tree and rhubarb plant are no more! Grr… Beyond that, now my perennial bed is also in need of weeding and I wonder if I’ll ever catch up or if the mosquitoes will get me first.

This weekend the youth group at my church will be hosting a garage sale in order to fund raise some money for events of the upcoming year. I’m starting to think it’ll be more work than it’s worth though. I’m taking trips around town picking stuff up, and I have a car, and not a pick-up so then I need to find other people to help with the bigger items, as many of our congregation cannot move these themselves. And then, come the end of the sale, any unsold furniture will need to go to GoodWill, but once again, I’m trying to contact people with pick-ups to see if they can help out with that. This is turning into a royal pain in the butt. And if worse comes to worse, I’ll have to rent a U-haul, but I really don’t want to have to do that and cut into our profits. I guess I’ll just give that one up to God.

And then I’ve also starting my distance education courses, and so should be reading my textbook for at least an hour a night, but amidst the garage sale hoopla, I’ve been failing on that end. And then I’m still trying to find time to go jogging and swimming– the last of which I haven’t done in weeks and now can’t find my goggles. And have I mentioned that I’m also looking for a new place to live and so must go to viewings and stuff in the evening, and then next weekend I have a wedding in Calgary? So much stuff! Oh life, how I chew you.

S is for Spontanious

In Life in General on July 13, 2010 at 11:31 pm

On Friday afternoon a friend/co-worker jokingly suggested that I ride with her to Vancouver the next morning, as she didn’t want to make the drive alone. Much to her shock and delight, I decided to take her up on it. After clearing this last-minute vacation with my boss, I was given the next week off.

So, here I sit at SameSun Backpackers in Vancouver. Saturday and Sunday night were spent in Surrey at the house of a friend from university. I’d called her parents to check if it was okay for me to crash there, but told them I wanted to surprise my friend. Surprised she was, and we spent the next day and a half hanging out together and catching up on the news. She even took me down to the beach and we hunted small crabs, grabbed some ice-cream, and even got an eyeful at an unofficial nudist beach we stumbled upon.

Monday morning I headed into Vancouver, armed only with a map of the possible hostels to stay at.  My first stop though, as it was early in the morning was Medina, a coffee shop/cafe that my brother-in-law had suggested. Great coffee, good service, nice ambience.

From there I wandered around town, pack on my back, looking for a hostel. The first one I came across was called American Backpackers and was so sketch I don’t think a homeless person would have stayed there.  Actually, when I first walked up to it I thought it was condemned. Needless to say I hoofed it out of there pretty quickly and headed south, where I came across SameSun Backpackers. Much better. Friendly staff, clean rooms, a clean kitchen, internet access, a decent location, and toast and coffee for breakfast. Not the cheapest ever, at $31/night for a bed in a dorm for 6, but at least I didn’t have to worry about catching bedbugs or being robbed.

Thus far, I’ve spent a lot of time outside, checking out markets, parks, the Olympic cauldron (? is that what it’s called?), Gastown, and Granville Island. The last of which is where I spent today, munching on delicious food, and then this evening scoring tickets to improv for tomorrow night. A fellow hosteller and I went for improv tonight, but it was cancelled for a private function. We chatted with the manager, and he offered us free tickets for the next evening, seeing as we were tourists and had limited time to take in a show. Sweet chicken. So now I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow night.

Anyways, tomorrow I meet up with a couple other friends in the early evening, and maybe I’ll hit up Stanley park….is that its name? I’m drawing a lot of blanks tonight.  But that’s it for now, as my internet time has got to be almost up. Signing off. Have a good one.

The Facebook Stalker

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2010 at 9:06 am

Do you do it? You know, do you stalk people’s Facebook pages? On the whole I’m not a stalker. In fact, I’ve deleted most of the people from high school who added me, because the truth is that I haven’t talked to them since high school, so why should we get to snoop around each others’ lives? I pretty much use Facebook for two things. One is e-mail and the other is photos. I love looking at photos.

Today, I went on Facebook and found a photo album of someone’s trip to Portland and all the coffee shops he hit up there. Portland looks like a fun city with lots of character, and I find myself wanting to plan a bit of a road-trip. The thing is, I really don’t know the person who owns this photo album. He’s a friend of my sister, and while I’m sure he doesn’t mind me looking (yes, we’ve met before), as he has his pictures set to public, I feel a little weird getting this glimpse into his life. So I guess, to a small extent, I am a Facebook stalker. But if I want to know how someone’s life is going, I don’t head over to their Facebook page, I e-mail them. A little more personal, and a little less creepy.

Back in Halifax and then on home

In Life in General on July 8, 2010 at 9:10 am

My trip ended with a few days spent in Halifax. By that time I was really tired, and all I wanted to do was veg, so that’s exactly what I did. I wandered over to the old graveyard and looked through the gravestones. There’s something amazing about going through a graveyard and seeing all the lives that were lived, and reading about how they’d be remembered. Most of them focus on the character of a person, rather than what they did.  I sat under a tree in the graveyard and read for a while, before meandering up to the public gardens, which were gorgeous. It was a bright sunny day and the garden was filled with people.

The next day I went to Pier 21 with a couple of people I’d met at my hostel. The museum was well put together, but much smaller than I thought it would be. I did find pictures of the ship my parents came over on (same ship, different trips, they were both younger than 5) in the museum and after the tour headed down to the archives to see if I could find passenger lists or anything from their ship. There were an amazing number of ships that came through the harbour at Halifax, and so many people used it as a port into Canada, from working immigrants to war-brides, there were some amazing stories about people who had gone through there. Unfortunately, there was nothing on the ship my parents came over on, aside from some pictures of the boat and a blurb on its history, nothing about the people it carried. That was a bit of a disappointment, but c’est la vie.

After we left pier 21 we were thirsty, and low and behold, there was Garrison Brewing Company right across the street! So, we headed over there to do a beer tasting.

And when I discovered they made chocolate soda, then things got really exciting! Chocolate soda! How could it be bad? Two of the best things in the world combined into one. Yummy.

I was done with beer tasting before my fellow travelers, who decided they needed to try every beer on tap–they were also the slowest beer drinkers in the world–, so I said goodbye and headed down to the harbour front, where low and behold I saw Theodore the tugboat roaming the harbour (sorry he’s so small in the picture).

From there I headed back to the hostel for a quiet evening with a book, and the next morning I took off bright and early, leaving the hostel at 4:45. After catching the shuttle to the airport, I got on my direct flight to Edmonton, and spent an uneventful six hours flying home.

Thanks for following along on my Halifax trip, and while I’m sure I’ve forgotten to tell you some things, you’ll probably hear about it in conversation somewhere in the future.