Refuse to be Passive

Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Christmas, unhealthy food, and getting sick

In Life in General on December 26, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Healthy eating and Christmas seem to go together like oil and water. Being sick and Christmas just seem to go together. The past few days have been interesting for me gastronomically. I’ve eaten pizza twice, after not eating pizza for 4 months. I’ve had home-made streusel, which was probably the best streusel I’ve ever had. I’ve had chicken pot pie with a biscuit crust. I’ve munched on After Eight mints and candy canes. Thankfully, I’ve also had lots of fruit and veggies around to offset all this unhealthiness. I can’t help but wonder if eating all this ‘bad’ stuff has led me towards one of my long time Christmas traditions—getting sick. Last year I was one of the few in my family who didn’t have a bout with the flu—at least not until I got home after the holidays. This year, illness seems to be hitting me a little sooner. I woke up last night with a sore, scratchy throat. I grabbed a drink of water, and then went back to sleep. In the morning, my throat still hurt. My sister told me that it might just be the fact that the air in her apartment is really dry, but I’ve felt this coming along for a few days now. I’ve been holding it off with lots of hot tea and citrus. But she seems to have arrived. As such, I stayed home this morning to rest, while my sister and her family headed for church. I haven’t made it to church at all yet this Christmas, and it feels a little odd, but I don’t want to be spreading my sickness as well as my Christmas cheer. Better me sick at home, rather than spreading it to who knows how many other people. As such, it’s nearly noon and I’m seriously contemplating a nap. I’ll glug down the rest of my coffee, and maybe close my eyes for a few minutes before the apartment is bustling again.

 

Sometimes I Forget

In Life in General on December 24, 2010 at 10:49 am

Sometimes I forget that not everyone nerds out about food like I do. I run in circles at home where many of my friends have the same passion, and most of the blogs I follow online also fall into the food lovers category. As such, I was surprised yesterday when my sister began to zone out as I dished over a delicious sandwich I’d had at a restaurant back home that was a warm grilled ciabatta filled with smoked cheddar, portabello, arugula, tomato, and apple jam (and some other mystery sauce I’m still looking into).

My sister and I have always enjoyed spending time together in the kitchen, often making up recipes out of whatever we had in the fridge. It was delightful fun, and I never questioned it. We were both food lovers. But apparently, I’ve taken it one step further the last few times we’ve hung out together. She’s very good at faking interest, because it took me until now, via hearing her say she was zoning out, to recognize that she’s not the food nerd I am. Strangely, I’m okay with this. I’ve found a niche that no one else in my family has taken as their own, and that’s a nice feeling.

This is my middle sister, and quite frankly, most of my life I’ve been trailing in her shadow– she always did everything better than me, and I felt it keenly. So it’s nice to have something of my own. When I took up swimming, I heard stories of how good she was– how far she could go in how short a time. I couldn’t do that. She’s always been a fashionista and looks great 24/7. I’m not there either. She has a wonderful husband and a sweet little 2 year old boy. I’m nowhere near that point. I’m thoroughly single, which I’m alright with most of time– especially when I’m around other people’s kids and they’re being total brats. My sister was artistic. I took art history because my concept of figure drawing was s stick person. She’s always been thin; I’ve struggled with my weight since I was 15. You get the gist. Just achieves more all around and does it well. So that fact that I’ve developed a true love for food and the mingling of flavours is a delight.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my sister so much. I don’t envy her for her successes– at least not much. Rather, I’m happy for her. She’s my go-to girl, someone I can talk with about absolutely anything and not have to worry about judgment. When I succeed, she’s proud, and I seriously doubt that she knows I’ve ever felt myself to be in her shadow. If she ever reads this post, it may be a bit of an eye opener for her, but I don’t think she’ll resent it or feel guilty, at least she shouldn’t. I’ve been so blessed by both my sisters, and on this Christmas Eve, they are what I am truly thankful for.

Good food, great friends, and boy am I tired!

In Food, Life in General on December 21, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Life is a funny thing. I’m only two days into vacation and I’m already more exhausted than after a week at work. What’s with that? Alright, I know the answer. I’m working on packing up and taking care of last minute errands before heading home for the holidays. Today has seen me do everything from homework, to finishing a cake, to fueling my car, to heading for lunch with a friend, and then coffee and shortbread at a local bakery with another friend. I also managed to go through all my paperwork, sort it, and chuck a bunch of stuff. It’s been a productive day. But now, it’s only 10pm and I’m exhasted. Actually, I was exhausted at 9pm, now all I want is bed, but I figured I should throw up a blog post before turning in.

Great food to be had today! I went to Culina Highlands, and was delighted by my Portabello and Smoked Cheddar sandwhich. After my first less than thrilling visit to Culina Millcreek, this has restored my faith in at least one of the Culina restraunts. On my list for the new year, make apple jam! My salad also came with a delightful mustard vinagrette, and while I’m normally partially to fruity dressings, this one was lovely. So I’m going to be toying around with ingredients at home, seeing if I can’t come up with something similar. The friend I went with had a quinoa and millet salad with pine nuts, mandarins, dried cranberries, and feta. Similar to mine, hers was delicious. If you decide to frequent this fine establishment, I suggest reservations as it gets rather busy over lunch hour.

Note: These restraunts have different menus, it’s not a chain, rather sibling restraunts.

And then the evening took another friend and me to Duchess to see the gingerbread replica of Notre Dame at 1:100 (or however you write scale sizes). It was truly impressive. I also discovered that there is a great tea selection there! After hemming and hawing over some great options, I settled on fennel licorice tea. I just can’t get enough of licorice lately. And then, because I couldn’t decided between the shortbreads, I had one of each– earl gray, lemon poppyseed, and traditional, along with one of their famous macarons. Not a healthy dinner, granted, but delicious. The staff there are always so friendly, and in the evening, its rather quiet, and so while selection of baked goods is limited, you can be assured you’ll have a table. Mornings are another story, particularly Saturdays. Avoid if you can as I guarantee there will be a line. On the other hand, it’ll be fresh as can be and a nice brioche for breakfast with goat cheese and sliced strawberries can be divine.

First day of Christmas Vacation

In Life in General on December 20, 2010 at 10:58 am

It’s officially my first day of holidays. It’s not even 10am and already there’s a lovely smell wafting through my apartment of slow roasted tomatoes, as I’m getting a head start on making some meals for the coming days. The tomatoes will be used for soup, and it will be delicious. Breakfast, while not healthy at all, we also delicious– 2 sugar cookies and a couple of mandarin oranges. Like I said, not healthy, but yum! I think that lunch will be an egg-white fritata with ham and italian cheese with a side of tomato soup. Delicious! I can barely wait, but before then, I need to put in two good  hours of studying. It’s off to the races!

Last Day

In Life in General on December 17, 2010 at 10:28 am

It’s my last day of work before Christmas holidays, and I have to admit that I’m not all the excited. I have so much to cram into those couple weeks off, that I’m actually finding it a bit intimidating. Want examples? Tomorrow I have a birthday brunch, would like to help some friends move for a couple hours, and serving dinner at the Mustard Seed– a local mission. Sunday, my actual birthday, will be spent at church with the youth group all day, prepping for the Candlelight service they’ll lead in the evening. Monday and Tuesday consist of homework, and lots of it. Wednesday I head down to Ponoka to visit a friend. Thursday I’m down to Calgary to celebrate Christmas with my sister and her husband. On the 26th, I’m stealing my nephew and heading down to my parents in Lethbridge. Somewhere in my Calgary time, I’m hoping to grab coffee with a couple of friends I don’t see nearly often enough. Once in Lethbridge, there’ll be a few down days– although with a 2 year old on hand, I don’t know how relaxing that will be. Then the rest of the siblings will come and we’ll do our traditional New Year’s gift exchange. From there, I head back up to Edmonton and back to work! Whew! I feel tired just thinking about it.  And of course, somewhere in there, I need to do Christmas shopping. Yipes.

The Souffle Flop

In Food on December 17, 2010 at 10:23 am

Yesterday I tried making pumpkin souffles for the first time. They baked up nicely, but I pulled them from the oven too early. They flopped. Sad, but true. But I will not be deterred! I’ve concluded that between opening the oven to check the souffles, which changed the temperature, and not whipping the egg yolks enough, that I just barely missed the mark. Thankfully, the souffles were delicious, so no one minded the flop. Note to self for next time, rub reminkins with butter, not cooking spray, and then use sugar as an added layer to keep the souffle from sticking to the remikin– oh, and don’t adjust the number of eggs in the recipe. Whoops. I had half an egg too much, due to adjusting a recipe to go from 4 to6. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference. I can’t wait to try it again!

Sorry there are no pictures. I was cursing myself when I saw how pretty they were.

Only Wednesday

In Life in General on December 15, 2010 at 10:25 am

It’s only Wednesday. This whole week I’ve been thinking it’s a day later than it actually is.  On the bright side, that means I don’t have class until tomorrow, that I’m getting together with a friend for dinner tonight, and that I still have a day before trying my hand at pumpkin souffle. I’ve never made a souffle before. The word souffle seems to fill a lot of people with trepidation, but once I looked at how they’re made, I have no idea why? It looks to be a relatively simple process. It’s like poaching an egg– not in a microwave or in a poaching cup, but in a pan. If you tell a person that you poach your eggs in boiling water, they look at you with awe and regard. Actually, poaching an egg is about as easy as frying one. Don’t believe me? Check out my previous post on this and then try it for yourself!

In other matters, last night I did what I’d be putting off for weeks. I went clothes shopping. I’ve lost about 30 pounds in the past few months and am now at the point where I cannot go without new clothes. It’s an expensive process, so I’ve been procrastinating. Yesterday I realized that I was down to one pair of jeans (recently acquired and already too big), one skirt, and that’s it. All my other clothes were too big to the point of needing to be tailored or given away. I love my new size, and the clothes shopping, which I’ve dreaded in the past, turned out to be a delight. There was so much that I fit into and look good in now! Only five or ten more pounds and I think I’ll be at an ideal weight.

Tonight, as I’ve mentioned, I’m making dinner with a friend. He’s probably the best cooking friend I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a number in the past. You know, those friends who every time you visit, you wind up hanging out in the kitchen. He’s such a fan, he’s even created a blog to track our past attempts. I think we’ll need to start photographing our results. Blogs are so much more interesting with photographs. Hmm…speaking of which, mine hasn’t had any photos in a while. Let me see if  I can find anything interesting to post.

Well, no interesting ones. Maybe you’ll just have to wait for next time. Ah well, c’est la vie.

On another note, I made oven roasted asparagus with lemon, sea salt, and pepper last night. Delicious!

Get Over Yourself

In Life in General on December 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I’ve been snapping at my sister for months now. She can make a comment or do something, and regardless of how innocent, I bristle and then retort. I’d resent her for whatever she’d said or done. This morning was no different. My car makes a high pitched whirring sound when it’s really cold out and the car is still warming up. I picked my sister up from her house, and she commented on the sound. I bristled automatically and struggled to respond in a civil manner. We drove to the pool in relative silence, got ready for our swim in relative silence, and got into the pool in relative silence.

The great thing about swimming is that it gives you lots of time for contemplation. The rhythm of the strokes, while tiring, draws your mind to thoughts of life.  At about 700 meters I had a revelation. I needed to get over myself. I took a few moments to step back and look at my behaviour the past few months and parse though it. Why was it my sister who set me off? Other people could say almost anything they wanted and I’d be fine with it, so what made her different? I mulled over this for a while and came to this conclusion: maybe if I kept having problems with my sister on such a wide scale as speech and action, it wasn’t actually her problem, but mine. In owning the problem, I realized that every time she made a comment, I construed it as criticism, even if it was never meant as such. From there, I put up defenses, and sadly they stung her. I would resent a comment and blast her for it.  In action, I would feel that her being late was a direct message of how much she valued me. She told me constantly that she loved me, but actions speak louder than words, and promptness is something I value. I’d resent her if she assumed that because I was her sister, I’d do certain things for her– I’ve since decided they are the types of things you should be able to assume out of your siblings.  And for all that I would harbour ill-will towards her.

I care too much what other people think. I want everyone to like me, and whenever I feel uncomfortable or out of place I get quiet, or I get defensive. The people I most want to impress are the members of my family– my parents, my sisters. I don’t want to let them down. Therefore, each time my sister made a comment I felt I’d failed. Then I’d lash out. I would then feel guilty for my failure and failing to handle it graciously. It was a vicious cycle.

After my swim, I apologized to my sister for the way I’d been treating her. She confessed that it was wearing, trying to pick and choose her words in order to not illicit a negative reaction. I knew that I’d been trying, but I hadn’t realized that it was that bad. My sister, being the absurdly generous person that she is, forgave me readily. I do feel better, but still feel the need to make amends. All the things I took for ill, she never meant as such. My sister is not a mean person and yet I projected that onto her.

My sister used to tell people that I was the most generous person she knew. Now,  it is my privilege to return that compliment. I can honestly say that my sister is the most generous person I know in her praise, patience and forgiveness. I am so incredibly blessed to have her in my life.

 

Chronic Tardiness

In Life in General on December 13, 2010 at 2:49 pm

This past weekend I showed up at a friend’s place late, so I apologized. He told me it was fine. In a moment of epiphany and emotionalism, I emphatically stated, “No, it’s not.”

I suppose I should explain.

The past couple of months work has had a frustrating aspect for me. Deadlines are made, and I’m waiting on people to get me the information I need to meet the deadline. Then, with only a day or two to spare, an e-mail is sent out, requesting and extended deadline. Delightful. And this deadline gets pushed back again, once more with apologies.  Sidebar: Once someone apologizes to you three or four times, you start to doubt their sincerity. Back to regular programming: And then, just for good measure, they take a few days longer to get me the information. Then, I have less than one day to make all the changes I need to. Meanwhile, these extended deadlines hold up the whole project, of which I am only a small part. There’s a ripple effect, and now the entire project is behind. It’s like a contractor who can’t seem to get your house done on time, even though he gave himself months to complete it.

I have come to the conclusion that being chronically late is rude. It sends a message to the other party that they are not worth you getting there on time, or completing the project on time. Tardiness, while I can handle it to a certain extent, frustrates me when a person is the head of the tardiness train. They are the one who slows everyone else down. Sometimes, the tardiness train is a short one, and the entire project only lasts a couple hours before you can catch up. It’s those extended tardiness trains, like the ones with a hundred cars that drive me nuts. Especially when they’re moving forward, but slowing down, only to start backing up, and then moving forward again. And it’s back and forth, back and forth, but it never actually goes anywhere! Meanwhile, you’re stuck in your car thanking the fates or God or just plain old luck  (if you believe in such a thing) that you happen to have a really entertaining Stewart McLean CD to listen to. And of course, being environmentally conscious, you turn off your car instead of letting it idle.

That’s my rant on tardiness. That’s my rant on rudeness. Now I’m going to go write a post on getting over myself.

Dietary needs and Christmas events

In Food, Life in General on December 10, 2010 at 1:04 pm

This weekend I’m hosting my first ever Christmas Open House. It’s a little bit nerve wracking to send out a bunch of invitations and have no idea whether you’re expecting 4 people or 40. It’s also a challenge to figure out what to serve. While I want to have a decent spread, I don’t want to overdo it. And while I can’t cater to everyone’s dietary restrictions, there are a few areas in which I shall try. My initial plan was to make it a sweet treats and hot drinks party, but then I thought about those people out there, like me, aiming to complete the holiday season in fine physical form through healthy eating. Let’s face it, Christmas is not a healthy eater’s time of year. Even less so, it’s not a time of year for losing weight. As such, I’ve adapted my menu slightly to allow for some healthy alternatives, as well as provide an option of the savory for those who have been born without a sweet tooth. While I know most people scoff at this idea, I do k now some people for whom that is the case.

One of the insane parts of this Open House is that I’m making everything from scratch, from the chocolate dipped sugar cookies, to the lemon cranberry shortbread, to the zucchini garbanzo hummus, to the eggnog and mulled apple juice. That’s right, I’m completely insane. Should be fun!