Friday, November 21

A Month of Dragons

So everyone knows that I'm a big giant nerd right? Just in case you had forgotten, or missed it somehow, I wanted to stop by to let you know about two of the really big, time absorbing things in my life right now.

First of all, this month I've been participating in Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month. I wanted to write something that would come easily to me to facilitate the time limit, so I chose a fantasy story with YA elements. I'm writing about dragons. It's pretty sweet.

You can check out my Nano profile here, read an excerpt from  my prologue, and follow along on my word count. Just 9 days left and I'm way behind! Haha. The reason for my behind-ness follows.
My Inquisitor Anias Trevelyan.
The second dragon in my life is currently Dragon Age: Inquisition. Being such a big fan of Mass Effect and local to Edmonton game studio Bioware it follows that I would be all over their newest game like an obese dog on cheezies. Not a saying? Too bad. Mass Effect is my favorite game world/series of all time, and the new Dragon Age feels like a peek at what's to come (hopefully) for the studio. It's run on a new engine, the Frostbite Engine, and because of that all kinds of awesome things are possible like a bridge being destroyed underneath you or a beautiful wave crashing against the shore near you. Even tides. THERE ARE TIDES. Ya, the storm coast is kinda blowing me away.

I'm behind on one dragon because the other dragon ate 20+  hours of my life in the last three days.

Balance. Working on it.




Thursday, November 20

October and November

What I haven't been doing: Taking outfit pictures. Thinking of content for this blog. Writing enough. Shopping (sigh). Leaving the house. Cooking. Grocery shopping. Cleaning.

What I have been doing: Playing Dragon Age. Playing Skyrim. Playing Mass Effect. Watching the entire series of 'Mixology' on Netflix. Starting to watch Chuck on Netflix. Ordering a lot of pizza. Starting Nanowrimo. Writing. Drinking insane amounts of tea. Geeking out over Pink and Dallas Greens new album, You+Me.

The last couple months I have shot and edited exactly zero outfit posts. This is kinda sad and disappointing because I purchased an almost entirely new wardrobe in September and I kinda love it. It's a lot more me. New me. Casual me. And I really do want to share it. Sadly, with colder temperatures and drastically less light in the day I have been unable to motivate myself to take any pics. I'm gonna try soon. In fact this weekend while there's light I might actually take a whole whack of pics. It is, of course, time to procrastinate writing because there are eleven days left in Nanowrimo and of course you still have time to finish. I'm a little insane.

October was beautiful here in Edmonton, maybe the nicest October I can remember. Not a bit of snow all month, we had a fire in our new fire pit on our new patio, we took Lola to the dog park on a regular basis and she loved it, and we even went for a couple walks around our local lake. It was lovely. Of course it's November now, and someone flipped the winter switch. I swear I will never feel warm again. November means N7 day (a holiday for nerds) which you can see Nick and I celebrating above. November means hibernating and comfort food eating and snowy cold dog walks.

When it's cold I like to bake. I baked my first dinner rolls a couple weeks ago, and homemade bread this week, and I am about to catch the cooking bug. I signed up with SPUD, who deliver seasonal, organic and local  groceries to your door and I'm making it a goal to spend more time cooking. And using more produce of course. I've got beets in my fridge for the first time ever and I am so so excited to cook up a fall feast. I already tried roasted beets, parsnip pear and coconut pasta sauce (whaat?) and Nick and I reveled in a lunch of baked potatoes with an egg cooked in the middle.

And that's about it. It's been wonderfully dull around here and I'm cool with that. Spending time with family and enjoying puppy cuddles in front of the TV during Netflix marathons is a pretty great way to spend ones winter. Ive started thinking about Christmas, which is crazy in itself, and I'm looking forward to a time when all of my laundry is done. Working on it.

That's kinda what life feels like right now, a work in progress. And I'm taking a little break.

Friday, November 14

SPUD

A little while ago I purchased an "Ethical Deal" for the website SPUD.ca.

Rewind, a few years ago I learned about CSA's through the blog Delightfully Tacky. Elizabeth introduced me to the concept while she was researching CSA's and considering signing up. Eventually she did, here's a post about her experience as a whole, but she also posted recipes and talked about how receiving local and seasonal ingredients she wouldn't necessarily buy at the store helped her grow and experiment with cooking! I love that!

Anyway, the idea behind the concept is that you purchase a share of a local farm and have produce or meat delivered on a regular basis in exchange for your funding and sometimes, depending on the program, a set number of hours of work at the farm.

There are a couple of CSA options in Edmonton and Alberta at large, but there were a few things that held me back from moving forward. Firstly, most CSA's require a yearly fee be paid in full which is a pretty large upfront number (although it works out to be a great deal over the year). The produce you receive is not always customizable, and Nick and I are a little picky about certain things (he doesn't like mushrooms and I don't like bell peppers). I don't drive, and many of our local CSA's have a pickup location instead of delivery. And lastly, Nick is not a manual labor kinda guy and the thought of working on a farm, even for one day a year, did not really agree with him, and I'm shy, so I wouldn't do it without him. All of these reasons coupled together meant I never pulled the trigger on joining a CSA.

Bring that to this week when I discovered Canadian company SPUD.ca that works with multiple local farms and other businesses all across Canada to put together a CSA- like delivery service. They not only have produce available, but pretty much everything you might need ever. Dairy, meat, pre-prepared meals, natural cleaning products, beauty products and home goods even baking supplies. All of it is natural and Canadian, most of it's organic, and much of it is local.

The Ethical Deal was $20 for $40 worth of produce (if you're in Vancouver the deal is $30 for $60), I purchased a customizable produce box (I chose customizable because of those preferences I mentioned previously) and I also added a frozen pizza, 'cause why not.

In our first  box (after our preferences were adjusted - no grapefruit, no mushrooms, no peppers) we received:
  • Sparta Apples
  • Celery
  • Onions 
  • Parsnips 
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Delicata Squash 
  • Beets
I removed carrots and added beets because I already have carrots in the fridge, and I wanted to try cooking something I've never done before! I fell in love with a roasted beet salad last winter so I wanted to try something like that. I'm most excited by the Parsnips, Pears, Squash and beets. Onions, Celery, Apples and Potatoes are good basics that are handy when stocked so I'm happy with those as well. I'm dreaming of Pear tarts and Roasted veggie medlies. Here are some recipes I'm hoping to try:

 
Roasted Squash and Beet Salad by The Roasted Root.

Balsamic and Honey roasted Beets by Rock Recipes.

Parsnip and Pear Soup by Alexandra Cooks. 

Lots of options for Pears. Crockpot Pear Butter by Tammilee Tips. Homemade spiced Pear Vodka by . Or a beautiful Pear Galette like this one on Martha Stewart's website.

For the north end of Edmonton packages are delivered on Thursdays weekly. Ours arrived around five PM so it didn't end up sitting outside long, which was good because it was hella cold! I was extremely impressed with the packaging. The frozen pizza was in a thermal bag with dry ice, and the veggies were in a different cardboard compartment.  We got two stalks of celery and about ten small onions so I gave some of those to my sister.

Overall, I'm thrilled with our first experience with Spud, and I am incredibly excited to have them around. For a long time I've been wanting to use only natural, cruelty free products in our home and now I have a resource from which to find them. Walking into a drug store, I was never able to find cruelty free toothpaste of all things. Did you know most major brands test on animals? I'm so happy that this service takes a lot of the guess work out of buying, and I'll sleep better knowing our lifestyle is just a little greener.




Friday, November 7

Tutorials for Curly Hair from Hair Romance

If you have curly hair you are probably familiar with the handful of tricks I recommend: Pineapple, No-Poo, Hair Masks, Plopping, and twist outs. If that sounds like vaguely offensive gibberish you can find info on all of these tricks on my Curly Girl Pinterest board (or maybe you just don't have curly hair).

One of the struggles of curly hair, in my experience, is the third day up do.

Curly hair is naturally dry and as such shouldn't be shampooed as often as that of our straight haired brethren. I usually shower every three or four days.  This usually means a shower on Saturday, and a shower on Wednesday. I can only shower in the morning as I have not yet figured out how to go to sleep with wet hair without waking up looking like a bird has made a nest on my head.

Using the faithful pineapple method I can usually go two days (sometimes all three if I'm lucky) with my hair down and natural. When I wake up, all I do to style is dampen slightly. But sometimes when I wake up on the third day, still 24 hours from my midweek shower, my curls are no longer cooperating. Maybe I didn't  leave my conditioning mask in long enough, maybe I played with my hair too much the day before (NO TOUCHING). In any case, on this occasion it might be necessary to employ the elusive up-do.

Until now that has meant a pony tail or top knot. That's about it really, all I know how to do with any speed or confidence. Luckily, in enters the blog Hair Romance and it's delightfully creative and curly haired founder, Christina. 

Thanks to this discovery I now have a couple of new styles to try, and I might not even wait till day three.

Here are my favorites:
 The headband roll. SO EASY.
The French roll twist and pin. I'm obsessed with this one, must try.
And a side twist bun done on wet hair. I'm very curious about how the hair would act when dry and removed from this style. Worth trying to find out?

Wednesday, November 5

Layering Textiles

Maybe it's the weather, the threat of winter is real in the minds of Canadian come the first of November, but I'm thinking a lot lately about textiles.

This morning our backyard was covered in a thick layer of sticky white frost. Lola was all over it, literally.

Thinking of that white blanket outside my mind would like to counter with white blankets inside. Lots of them. All different kinds of them. Soft frilly ones, thick wooly ones. Lots of blankets.

In Scandinavian  decor you see a lot of layering with textiles. It's all about neutral pattern mixing and different textures.

Ikea always has my back when it comes to affordable textiles. Our linen duvet cover is an Ikea purchase and I absolutely love it. Linen is a fantastic base for a room, it has a subtle natural texture and it layers well with pretty much everything. Here are some of the layering pieces I'm mulling over for our bedroom makeover:

Textile

Tuesday, November 4

Little Lola: One Year Together

 We missed Lolas first birthday this year while we were on our honeymoon, so I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate her 'adopt-aversary': the day she became ours.

You see, Nick wasn't so keen on the idea. I had done so much research and so much planning and we believed together that choosing the right dog for our family would be a difficult task that would require us to meet many dogs, research many breeds, and be in just the right life stage. It turns out that like the adage "life is what happens when you're making other plans", life had already picked out the perfect dog for us and dropped her into our path. Of course it helped that Border Collie and King Charles Spaniel were two breeds I had researched extensively as options for us, and when I heard the combination, I practically jumped at the opportunity to meet the puppies.

In my puppy books, experts had intoned that choosing a pup was a science -- meet all the puppies in their home environment so you can see what they're growing up with, meet the dam and the sire, ignore the pups and observe their play and interactions with each other to determine future energy level. Choose the puppy who displays the kind of energy you are looking for -- assertive for those who want a guard dog or show dog, quiet, looking to the parent for guidance if you want an attentive lap dog. Instead of using all of these tips as I had intended, I received four pictures on my phone by text. One of the sire, one of the dam, and one of each puppy. I was told "We're going to take the black and white one, so the little tan one is the last!" This from my mother in law, both of us ecstatic over the idea of having litter-mates that could grow up together, kept within the same extended family.
The photos I had to go on before I met our pup.
I had to ask a lot of questions to assure myself that the puppies were not part of a puppy mill or backyard breeder situation, once I was satisfied with the information I received we arranged to meet the puppies "just meet them" Nick insisted, as if we could turn down a little pup placed in our arms. Instead of getting to see their home situation in person, or being able to observe their little personalities, this little blonde fluff ball was placed in Nicks arms in a strip mall parking lot completely devoid of light, with snow flying all around us. Thankfully, it turned out OK. Neither Lola or Molly exhibited any of the signs of having been born into puppy mills (no illness, no problems with potty training), but I do hope we get the chance to rescue a dog through a reputable organization in the future!

The pups had been sleeping in the car and were very much out of it still, so it was impossible to know anything about them except that when this little pup licked Nicks beard, we were in love with her. We had already talked about a name and, completely invested, I told Nick "she looks like a Lola", and that was that.

Lola and Molly curled up together in the middle back seat, having traveled to us in a laundry basket. They slept during our long drive home, and Lola loathed to say goodbye to her sister when it was time to put her, alone, into the backseat of our car and drive away from Nicks parents. She was very brave, very tenacious, and very sleepy her first night. I couldn't bear her cries when we put her in her closed crate, so I tied her to the crate with the door open and she opted to pass out on the carpet just outside (the monks of New Skete recommend tying your pup to your bed if you're not crate training so I at least got this idea from an expert, haha) . Once she was asleep I gently lifted her into the crate and closed the door. She didn't even notice.

Ever since, Lola has been the cornerstone of our lives together. She shapes our relationships with each other and our friends, and has enriched our lives very much. We've even made new friends through dog walks and trips to the park, and the fresh air has done us all good.  Friends remark that if there's one way to describe Lola, it's "Happy" and indeed, she's always smiling and keen to play. She's our little love, and I spend every day away from her excited to return for hugs and kisses with Lola.

Photos of Lola at our wedding by Genevieve Renee Photographie

Friday, October 31

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween lovelies! Just stopping in for a trip down memory lane. Remember the year (2010) when Nick and I were Steampunk for Halloween? That was sweet. I still have almost everything I wore as part of that costume.

Then I was a hipster (damn, I look like that every day don't I?) and Nick was a lumberjack. Last year I didn't dress up but Nick wore a Superman shirt. Counts?

This year I bought a Mass Effect N7 hoodie and am walking around the office saying "this is my favorite cubicle on the Citadel" and then "I should go". It's the method acting that makes it legit.

What are you wearing for Halloween?

 
 
 

Wednesday, October 22

October is Brain Tumor Awareness Month



There was smoke in the air when I found out that you died. Thick like fog settles in the morning, but yellow and acidic so it hurt to breath. Swimming and collecting in the unevenness of the earth, every blade of grass, stump or tree. Every building and street lamp and parked car was an obstacle to be set upon by the smoke.  It was a series of grey days.

It felt forbidding from the start. Like an omen. I don't really believe in omens but when I heard that you had died I felt like a premonition had been realized. The premonition of hundreds of acres of burning forest. I'm sure the firefighters or the people with rural homes would not understand, the people whose lives were wrapped up in the reality of the flames, but for the last several days as the fire had burned I had been thinking not of them but of you.

You who were an artist of a thousand office doodles. Line drawings in pen that collected over every page of your notebook. Mostly the faces of the people around you lost in thought, the lines of our furrowed brows. You drew all of our faces.

You who were accomplished in your work and valued innovation and never stopped making. Who never stopped talking. Who had a million things to say.

You who loved and gave and attended every outing, including the karaoke ones, and who never packed a lunch. Neither of us did, so we got lunch together and it was a reliable kind of trip talking Game of Thrones and spoilers and SciFi.

You who loved your family with all your heart and wrote on Facebook while you were sick only that you missed your dog. I know he misses you.


Several weeks prior I had taken a photo of your empty desk. Something about it bathed in the light of our offices only window, the chair pushed out from the monitor, sitting empty in the middle of the cubicle. I remember how much it stung when a new staff member took your chair. It was the nicest chair. You were the only one who cared enough to do the Ergonomic Assessment. All she had to do was say, can I have that? And she took it and replaced it with a chair that was not your chair. We had all been saying "Let it wait till he comes back, he'll be back soon". Eventually it dawned on us that you would not be returning, but none of us who knew you could take the chair.


I heard that in certain parts of the city ash fell from the sky like snowflakes. It drifted in through office windows and people drove around in 30 degree heat with their windows rolled up tight to keep the death out. I was on the LRT train when I got the call and I remember how the smoke seemed to push against the glass, trying to get in the cracks. Particles of trees in British Columbia and the North West Territories carried all the way to Central Edmonton on a breeze.

It comforts me a little that the day you passed is a day all Edmontonians can remember. Not just those whose lives you touched, but all of us. Remember when the ash rained and the smog stung and the highrise condos were mired in haze? Remember that? Ah yes, July 2014, I remember well.

A series of grey days.



It's taken me these months to put the words in my head to paper, and as life would have it the month I finally do, this month of October, is Brain Tumour Awareness Month. I would encourage everyone to donate even a small amount to research and to the betterment of the lives of those who suffer from brain tumours. You can do so through the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.


City of Edmonton photos from the Edmonton Journal. 



Monday, October 13

Being Thankful

I'm stopping in today, a holiday Monday here in Canada, to talk a little about being thankful.

Life can be tricky sometimes. It's not always roses and raindrops on noses, sometimes it's just torrential rain that washes out your footings and leaves you sinking into the mud. Sometimes you attend a funeral and get married in the same week and it's weird. That's one of the things that happened for me this year, and a week that leaves you feeling both the most profound sadness and the most complete joy is a strange week indeed. I've been thinking a lot about how this kind of juxtaposition is what brings the gems out of the rocks in our lives. Encourages us to stop and take stock of the beautiful things we have to be thankful for.

For me, being thankful is about enjoying and appreciating and telling your loved ones how much of a difference they make in your life.  Stopping to really look at how they make your life better. I know this is so true in my case.

So this year I am eternally and profusely thankful for the comfort, joy and love that my new little family lends me.


Friday, October 10

September in Instagrams

I find it absolutely impossible to reconcile the fact that September has already passed us by. How did that happen? I definitely remember August, but September has been a whirl. Perhaps the thing that's throwing me off is the fact that August's warm summer weather carried into the beginning of September, causing the months to kinda swirl together. I'm happy to say that despite it not feeling like fall, I took full advantage of those first warm weeks.

We visited the farmers market for the first time this year, we took trips to parks and to the farm, we even had a fire in the backyard complete with smores. I've been working very hard on our bedroom makeover, which you can see a little before and after sneak peak of in the bottom left of my collage.

It's been a good balance this month of getting out and enjoying things, and staying in and enjoying the cozy-ness of our new bedroom (as it gets colder). We moved a TV into the bedroom, something I swore never to do, this summer while it was too hot to inhabit any other room in the house. Now, we're fully in the habit of cuddling in the bed while watching TV. We've been watching X-files, Hannibal, Castle and The Knick over the last few months. I won't lie, I don't regret this little move one bit. The best part is when we have Tommy and Lola both sleeping on the bed with us, it's heaven.