Friday, June 1, 2012

My second biggest fear - a home invasion.  My biggest fear - a home invasion while I'm home in bed.  Thanks very much Criminal Minds for showing me horrible terrifying crime happens everywhere.  Believe it or not, I worried less about home invasions when I lived in a city of over a million people compared to now.  Now I live in a small city on a two acre lot in a relatively affluent area (by Maritime standards).  I can't see my neighbours.  They can't see me.  There is forest behind me.  Everyone knows crooks and pervs hide in forests.  PB is out of town.  A lot.  Like most nights of the week.  But I have a strategy for still sleeping through the night.  PB thinks its a bit insane (but is secretly comforted that I'm totally ready to defend my home and him if the need arose).  My mother thinks certain elements of my security regime are extreme.  My father thinks its not extreme enough and would entirely support me if I decided to up my regime to include things that I'd require licences for.

1.  I have two hundred pounds of very noisy dogs. Terrifying ferocious barkers.  That will greet you at the door with a toy and a wiggle if you were actually able to open that door - but the barking sounds very convincing.

2.  I sleep with two phones (a cell and a land line) by my bed.  Try cutting the phone line intruder - I've got a back up. HAHA!

3.  Exterior AND interior doors are locked.  Yes, when alone over night, the pets and I are locked into my bedroom.  And I fully intend on rounding us all up and locking us in the en suite if we have to.  That's a lot of locks to get through.

4.  I keep a knife under my mattress.  For reals.  Some people think this is insane.  The only criticism I've ever heard that actually makes sense to me is that the knife is actually a less than ideal weapon.  I'm not entirely comfortable with how close an intruder would have to get before I could fight back with said knife.  So..

5.  I also keep a large golf club by/under my bed when PB is not home.  Also not ideal - but I learned from Tiger's wife that one can do some damage with a golf club if so provoked.

But I just read the best tip ever - keep your car keys by your bed and if you hear an intruder press the panic button.  Best alarm ever.  Which excited me a lot.  Until I checked my keys and realized I must have the only North American car that doesn't have a panic button.  Good. God.  Now I am in a panic because I don't have a panic button.

Also - this list terrified me.  I totally slack on security when its raining presuming crooks and pervs hate bad weather too.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

I was right..

Remember when I said this was me:

Well....I was right.

Holy shit right? PB bet I wouldn't actually post that.  How could I not? That's the most awesome awful picture ever.  BUT....

Half marathon completed!  Not in any glamorous fashion BUT finished.  In 2:06 - which is four minutes faster than what I thought was a reasonably attainable goal..and 9 minutes faster than what I kinda thought I'd come in at.  And despite what you might think by looking at that picture - I didn't kill myself.  In's a picture taken about 12 seconds before that.

Monday, May 7, 2012

This Blueberry Walnut Banana Bread is a must make.  MUST. It was made last night at our house with the addition of some frozen raspberries.  We went with muffins as opposed to bread.  I initially made muffins because I thought portion control would be easier - eat one muffin as opposed to half the loaf and freeze the rest.  Its not working.  At all.  They're like amazing Tim Horton's fruit explosion muffins - except they're whole wheat..and pretty much fat free. 

Recipe here

Friday, May 4, 2012

Things We're Afraid To Tell You

Yesterday - the blog world embraced a new idea, a new idea that I love and appreciate so much.  Last week, the blogger behind Make Under My Life wrote a great article about how blogs (especially the pretty, design oriented lifestyle ones that so many of us waste hours on each day) may be contributing to a feeling amongst readers of what I'm calling "not enoughness". 

To try to balance the pretty photoshopped pictures and portrayals of perfect lives, bloggers are opening up about their "real lives" - and they're not typically as glamorous as their blogs might lead their readers to believe.

And its not just blogs, its facebook, and pinterest and now instagram. (Although I think my instagram which is 98% pictures of pets on various pieces of furniture is a pretty good representation of my real life).  Let's be honest.  We don't post statuses or post pictures that don't reflect us in the best possible light.  That's human nature.  (Although...ummm...well some people's definition of "best possible light" is obviously a little different than mine)  However, as a reader, or a consumer of all those statuses and pictures, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you're only seeing one side of that person's life.

I used to write a design blog.  But I stopped.  I stopped because I felt I couldn't keep up anymore.   Not that I couldn't keep up with the writing, I love to write, the writing wasn't the problem.  The problem was that I felt I couldn't add anything to the blog world.  I wasn't doing crafts every weekend, we couldn't afford to take on any more renos or DIYs, I couldn't afford a camera that would take lovely pictures and be damned if I was spending any more money on getting design help for my blog. 

I also stopped following many of my favorite blogs for a while.  I couldn't stop comparing my own life to the lives of these people I'd never met.  I found spending time reading design blogs, and shelter mags, and even my favorite shopping websites made me feel inadequate.  I began over analysing these complete strangers, agonizing over what their day jobs were that they could afford these trips, these renos, these clothes.   Were they also saving for retirement? Did they inherit money? Were they going into debt to do it?  It was exhausting and frankly a bit pathetic. Worst of all, I was failing to appreciate my own life and experiences.  I looked at everything to determine whether it was blog worthy, would it impress others?  And this over analysis was over strangers...can you imagine the analysis I gave to friends' and families' lives? 

I finally said enough, and backed away from this design world for awhile.  Obsessed about food and recipes and exercise instead because they didn't cost money (or at least not additional money).  But the comparison monster creeped up on me again, and now, one week away from running my first half marathon, I can't help but wonder why I'm not as fast or strong or thin as some of the half marathoners whose blogs I read.  Does that fact that one blogger wrote that she and her family still laugh at her "ridiculously slow time of 2:08" of her first half marathon that she failed to train for make my goal of finishing at 2:15 (a goal I've trained hard for for 4 months) pathetic? Why can't I be proud that I'm going to actually do this.  Running (even if it is at a 10 minute mile pace) 13 miles is not something everyone does. But this terrible curse of comparison is making this moment just a bit less sweet for me.

So thank you to the bloggers who are sharing insights into their real lives.  Not because it makes me feel better about my own, (that's not their's my own responsibility to pull my head out of my ass and love my life)   but because I think it makes for more interesting blogs.  The many sides of a person, the many parts of their life are what make people interesting.  Our struggles and challenges add to our character and persona as much as our successes. Our fears are as important as our passions.

And I've set a new goal for myself.  Stop the comparisons.  Just stop it.  Enough already.    Enjoy social media for what it is - a distorted reality of human life but also a great venue for catching up with friends, finding ideas and for learning about great uses for dawn dish detergent.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We're Back

Ok..we've been back three weeks.  We were just terribly depressed.  We're not alone on this are we? You take a magic holiday and then you can't function when you return to reality.  PB admitted he has only managed to fit in two workouts in the last three weeks and arrived home last night begging me to host an intervention because he couldn't stop eating chocolate bars.  I ate my weight in bread and pasta (AFTER we returned from Italy...the irony is not lost on me...) and bought some very random bright green pants.  This is what we do.  We eat and spend and are lazy useless human beings when we return from trips.  And then..when said random purchases no longer fit us, we get off our lazy asses and book our next holidays and try to restore order to our lives.

But I digress.  We had an awesome two weeks in Europe dividing our time between Portugal, Rome, Sicily and London.  We kicked off our trip with a night in London with Tony and Jo, and typical to our favorite trips, a few good meals including a fabulous lunch at Wahaca - a great Mexican restaurant that is a favorite of ours because of their fresh dishes, vegan friendly entrees, and numerous options of tequila.  We followed lunch up by going our separate ways...yup, that's how we roll.  PB checked out the Natural History Museum and I avoided millions of school children by heading to Camden Town and spent hours browsing the Camden markets.  We met Tony and Jo at Brewdog - a Scottish Craft Beer brewery and then headed to Manna for an amazing veg friendly dinner.  We wrapped up our 24 hours in London the next morning at the Borough Market- a favorite of ours every time we're in London. Amazing markets always make me want to live in the city.  I dream of lazy Saturday's shopping for fresh produce and returning to our London townhouse and cooking gourmet meals...I digressed. Again...

We then headed to Portugal.  We were staying in Foz do Arelho, about 45 minutes north west of Lisbon.  Lisa and Brett had rented an amazing vacation home and we had a fabulous week chilling out with Lisa and Brett, Ella and Teg and Terry and Lynn (Grandmas - who proved very useful when the four of us attempted a very unsuccessful pub crawl...).  We had amazing weather, and took some day trips to Obidos (very cute little town - even better Gringa...), Sintra - cuter town...(but damn..don't attempt to walk to the palaces, especially with a stroller and a five year old) and Nazare- which had GORGEOUS beaches,

but the waves were unreal - swear to god, like 10 metres tall.  PB and I took a little trip in Lisbon one day...sorta expecting another Barcelona, which...well, it was not.  To be fair, we only had about 5 hours, but we weren't overwhelmed.   We did wander around the Alfama district, which was very charming, and visited the Castelo de Sao Jorge - which offered some gorgeous of the city.  We had a great lunch at Resto do Chapito which is known for having some of the best views of Lisbon - and they ALMOST understood the term vegan...which...for Portugal was somewhat refreshing.

  Lets just say I ate a TONNE of iceberg lettuce during my week in Portugal.  The ABSOLUTE highlight of the Portugal leg of our trip was that Brett and Lisa had arranged for caterers to come in our last night in Portugal and prepare an absolute FEAST for all of us. (Ummm....except that six must mean 46 in Portugal...cause that's how many people it could have fed)  AND..they totally went above and beyond for the token vegan in the group.  I ate so much I was 98% sure I'd ripped my stomach open. (But not so much that I couldn't down six more Portuguese lentil croquettes on the way to the airport the next morning..)

Are you beginning to understand that a trip is made or broken over food for us?

Then we were off to Rome for a night.  Ahhhhhh...Rome.  18 hours is not enough in Rome.  We did manage to fit in two Roman pizzas (and they didn't bat an eye when I said no cheese!), some amazing pasta aglio e olio, some pastries and Italian coffee for PB and the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and some great piazzas that are best admired over bottles of Prosseco. We were in Rome just long enough to say holy shit, we need more time.  So summer?

After Rome, we flew over to Sicily.  We booked a hotel through Mr. and Mrs. Smith Hotels - which if you've never used...start. now.  THEY ARE AMAZING.  They're all boutique hotels - all very chic, and typically are small, and family run, and offer special touches you won't see at your typical chain hotel.  As we concluded while chatting with a lovely couple about our age from Sweden who were also staying at the hotel - one just doesn't go back to the Holiday Inn after a Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  For reals. (Except that we will...because PB is cheap loves a bargain).

So we stayed at Azienda Agricola Mandranova and it was AMAZING. Not only do they produce the world's best olive oil, they offer a very stylish, very comfortable, inn.  We went on this trip with the goal that we would actually try to relax a bit on this trip as opposed to running ourselves raged...and we could not have chose a better place to chill out.  While we did find some time to sight see a little in Sicily including checking out some local beaches and the Valley of Temples, we also enjoyed laying in the sun, reading and relaxing, learning more about the production of olive oil and wine production in Sicily.  The best part of the Mandranova - the cooking.  Oh my gosh.  First of all, upon checking in they actually asked...any dietary requirements, like vegetarian or vegan? Awesome. For the next five days, the chef prepared us a different, but authentic Sicilian vegetarian and vegan meal each evening.  It was amazing.  On my birthday, I had the opportunity to take cooking lessons from the Chef (and owner).  The biggest lesson - we're WAY too conservative with our oil usage.  The owners bent over backwards to make sure we had a lovely trip - and that we did.

When we dragged ourselves away from Sicily, we headed back to London for a last night with Tony and Jo, where we enjoyed some great thai at SUDA Thai in Covent Gardens.

Augh...I should not write these posts over red wine.  It makes me waste hours planning hypothetical next trips. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Weekend

Thank god it's Friday....what are you up to this weekend? We're saying good bye to the kids for a few weeks, and they're off to their favorite vacation paradise...Perth-Andover.  Haven't heard of it? Well according to M&M its paradise because:

1.  You don't have to wear a leash.  Anywhere.  
2.  There is a Tim Hortons that makes old fashion sugar timbits especially for you
3.  Nana and Grampa Briggs don't know the word no.

Here's a few links for your weekend:

This list is great...but makes me sad that I'll never have enough time to read all the books I want to.
This is one of our favorite vegan recipe blogs - I joke that PB loves the recipes so much because they're all kid friendly...but seriously..simple, great. food.
Last Sunday I made this bread...turned out great...nice and soft for a whole wheat bread which is something I've been struggling with - a perfect addition to beans on toast according to PB.
It's been a great week for advocacy for a plant based diet! Have you read this article  by Mark Bittman?  A fake chicken that fooled Mark Bittman?  Or this article about the human side of animal suffering? Or this article (one of many) about the Harvard study that showed red meat leads to early mortality? Veganism is so mainstream now - its awesome!
A little bevie for your weekend - I made these a few weekends ago to celebrate my root canal - WOO
We've got an overnight in Rome on our way to Sicily, and need to book a hotel - I'd like this one (that view for breakfast....swoon!) but PB's hoping there'll be a nice practical slumber inn...I'm sure a compromise will be found.
Do you have plans for St. Patrick's Day? I know one thing..ours will include some Irish Soda Bread (god willing it will be at least half as good as Josephine's)
And lastly...assholes.  No seriously.  The biggest assholes on the planet.  Its not often I wish people dead...but the world would be a better place.