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.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What We Are Planning: 30 in Honour of 30

Lots of people do the 30 before 30 list.  Like a bucket list - but to be accomplished before your 30th birthday.  I missed that boat.  I got the idea for the list three weeks before my 30th birthday.  I'd have to list things like, eat snow, or stupid stuff like that (sorry, that was the best weak example I could come up with).

Instead, I'm doing a 30 in honor of 30 list, a list of 30 things I want to accomplish during the year in which I turn 30.   30 things is kinda an intense number of things so forgive me if some are ridiculously easy and seemingly meaningless.

1.  Run (jog) a half marathon in less than 2:30
2.  Drink wine in an Italian vineyard
3.  Renovate our kitchen
4.  Team Sixy Mixy (extended) reunion
5.   Do two unassisted chin ups using a pull up bar.  The first one is easy -but dammit- can not pull myself up for a second.
6.  Road Trip - somewhere. anywhere.
7.  Reunion with the Laydens
8.  Buy a DSLR camera and learn how to use it. Well.
9.  Host a dinner party at Chez Brigman
10.  Visit five places I've not been before.
11.  Teach Marley a new trick.  Maybe roll over.  (And yes, when Molly can sit consistently we'll teach her something new too...)
12.  Master the crow pose (yoga amazingness).
13.  Learn five cocktails, stock the bar and be ready to make them when the occasion calls.
14.  Learn how to use chopsticks.
15.  Phase out all environmentally unfriendly products from our house.
16.   Urban weekend getaway with PB.
17.  Find a really good bread recipe, memorize it, and make often.
18.  Make vegan ice cream.
19.  Secret wildcard
20.  Read one-two non fiction books per month to learn something new
21.  Wallpaper something.
22.  Sleep outside. Preferably somewhere we have to hike to.
23.  Plant a garden.  Harvest said garden.
24.  Make some photobooks.
25.  Write three advocacy letters to government in support of animal rights
26.  Have six dates with friends. (Seems pathetically low - but considering the nearest friend lives 90 minutes away....)
27.  Learn how to play tennis
28.  Build something.  With wood.  By hand.
29.  Play one round of golf with PB (not necessary to play every hole....)
30.  Do an act of kindness for someone else.

I'm giving myself till December 31st, 2012 to accomplish these. Why do I think I'm going to spend NYE building shit while mixing cocktails and recovering from a botched crow pose?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What We're Doing: Running for Pride

So in December, during what was likely some Christmas mulled wine infused mania I decided I was going to start training for a half marathon.

I wanted to do this for a couple reasons, the first being that I'm turning 30, and I decided I should do something physically daunting every 10 years in honour of my birthday.  For my 40th I'll do an Ironman...for my 20th I think I drank my weight in tequila.  All impressive feats of strength and endurance.

The second PB almost immediately called... is that PB's ran a couple half marathons and I don't like that he's done something that I haven't.  Yeah...that's how we are.  I don't want there to be some discovery of some picture of PB at the Woody's Half Marathon finish line by a grandchild someday, to which PB says "yes, I ran half marathons, I was a runner...your, no, she was not a runner like me."  We're crazy competitive.  The kind of competitive that would make great reality tv.   PB beat me in a 50 metre freestyle swim seven years ago and he still brings it up every 10 days or so.  I maintain I sacrificed performance for style and was wearing the wrong swimsuit to do a flip turn in.  I know I won't beat PB's half marathon time (please...he's built like an Ethiopian ultra marathoner and I'm built like an Italian grandmother) but I kinda don't care about the time.  Its the finish that matters.

So I've been training.  Not following any firm program, just trying to increase my mileage every week.  So far I've only run on the treadmill.  My longest run was 10 miles.  100 minutes - on the treadmill.  Imagine the boredom.  There's not enough jock jams in the world to get a person through that.  Cotton Eye Joe is my "holy shit...forget this noise I'm quitting" can get me through the worst miles.  (PB told me his song is "One More Time" by Daft Punk...after which I asked if he took off his shirt and bit his bottom lip like he does when that song comes on in a bar...)

Last week was a tough week...even my three mile runs felt impossible and I didn't even bother attempting a long run.  I was NOT in the mood.  All I wanted to do jump about to a kickboxing video.  I was beginning to think maybe I was over it, maybe I would just say forget it, find all pictures of PB at the finish line and burn them...problem solved.

But I got back on the treadmill on Monday, took a deep breath, promised myself a peanut butter and chocolate smoothie after, cranked some Steve Earl and went for it.  Eight miles.  They weren't fast miles by any means, but a mile is a mile.  Its amazing how mood lifting a really good workout or run or hike can be.  Its also a confidence boost.  I know if I can do 8 miles alone, on a treadmill, I can crank out 13 when the adrenalin of a race* is pushing me along. (* I will not be racing - I will be attempting to finish...just for clarification)

What We Debate: The Costco Question

There was a time years and years ago (3 to be exact) that I was a Costco member.  And then my membership lapsed and when I mentioned to PB that I needed to renew our Costco membership he said no. 

There were a few problems with Costco. The biggest one being that I couldn't get out of the damn store without spending $250.  That might have been a cart full of some big bargains, but still...$250?  The second problem was that I took PB to Costco one day thinking he'd love the deals and get excited.  Instead he became enraged.  I spent the entire hour listening to him rant about why North Americans don't need 11 pound jars of Cheese Whiz (fair...we don't) and questioning why the carts had to be so big...was it to make you feel smaller? He was not impressed by the $12 bags of Ravioli (we don't need that much ravioli) or the cases of diced tomatoes (Walmart sells them cheaper and we don't have room to store them anyway).  At the end of the shopping trip - PB stated that we would allow the membership to lapse and that was that.  The MAN had spoken.

So in an unusual move for me, I followed his direction and have avoided Costco for three years.  I too was bothered by a few things. Why should you have to pay to shop somewhere? Why is the parking lot such a disaster zone? Where do these massive bags of produce even come from? Why don't they carry organic free range grain free dog food?

But then Jane came to visit.  And Jane has a Costco card.  And Jane took me back to Costco.  And Jane.....who has all grocery prices memorized down to the cent/gram - pointed out some amazing deals to me including things I spend way too much on at Superstore because we eat so damn much of it (spinach, lettuce, quinoa, frozen fruit) and I got very excited.  Costco has frozen cherries...Walmart and Superstore don't have frozen cherries.  Costco has orthopedic dog beds that even Molly will fit on (which is pretty much impossible to find) for only $30!! Costco has 50lb boxes of cat litter for $7.99!! (Can I sue Costco after I throw out my back trying to heave a 50lb box of cat litter into my cart that's bigger than my Mini?)

And so I returned home to tell PB all about this magical Costco trip.  PB was apathetic at best.  PB was not over the moon about the frozen cherries.  PB pointed out that since I was now letting Molly consistently sleep on the couch she probably didn't need an orthopedic bed.  

And so the debate goes.  The arguments Jane presented to me had little affect on PB.  He wasn't swayed by the cheap propane.  He thought the size of the bag of frozen strawberries was obscene and he pointed out he doesn't even like sweet potatoes and wasn't sure how I was going to eat a 10lb bag myself.  He's a hard nut to crack when it comes to paying a fee to shop somewhere.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What We Did: Joint Shopping and Self Awareness

PB and I rarely if ever shop together.  I say it's because he never lets me actually purchase anything, he says it's because I'm critical of everything he likes.  Whatever.  Point being - we rarely shop together but last weekend before the movies we had an hour to kill so decided to wander the mall.

While my back was turned, PB went off in hunt of new swim shorts for our upcoming holiday.  These are what I discovered him admiring.

Maybe these weren't the exact ones.  I just know there was neon and possibly flames, and I gasped and looked away in horror.  After which PB demanded to know what was wrong with them.  I replied that they weren't the type of shorts people like us wear.  He asked why.  I explained that we didn't live in New Jersey and we didn't do body shots off strangers at parties. Before PB had the chance to question why we didn't do that...I left the store.

Following that near shopping disaster, we headed over to Gap so I could check on a few things.  While there I pointed out a few excellent outfit options to him.  He considered these for a moment, and turned to me and asked "they're a bit preppy aren't they?"  I considered this for a second and then asked him, delicately, "have you met us?"

No purchases were made that evening, even though we both eyed up some sweatpants.  The Brigmans love their sweatpants.  Mmmmmmm...fleece.

What We Think - Put The Cell Phone Down.

I just read this great article about the anti-social behavior that cell phones generate.  I couldn't agree more.  I also fully realize this post will offend every one of my six readers (except my mum...who will agree)

Its become a HUGE pet peeve of mine.  HUGE.  And trust that I'm not singling any one person out friend and family member (Mum and Dad excluded - the cell phone is still a bit foreign to them) that I have seen over the last three years has done this to me.  It especially annoys me because in most cases, its the first time I've seen this friend in oh...months if not years.  What is this horrendous behavior?

They spend at least 1/3 of the time they're spending with me on their phone distracted by:

a) texting another friend
b) responding to a facebook message...from another friend
c) googling useless shit on their phone ( honest..its useless or its cheating if you're playing drinking games)
d) checking to make sure they don't have any messages from other friends
e) updating facebook statuses

Its become almost automatic now - you greet your friend at the restaurant or bar, sit down at the table, remove your phone from your purse or pocket and sit it beside your elbow...JUST IN CASE...something highly important happens in your life.   Ummmm...I've even seen people arrive at my house, leave their purse and coat at the door...but carry their cell phone with them.

Maybe its because nothing important ever happens in my life.  Maybe its because I don't have that many friends.  Maybe its because I'm so excited to have actual face to face interaction with another human but I never think to even take my phone out except in one circumstance - when I'm left alone at that table. Right? That is one of the only acceptable times.  Your friends go to the washroom, instead of sitting there analysing the drink menu, now you can scroll facebook to see if anyone is doing anything more interesting than you.   Also, that's a fabulous and acceptable time to update your status to let everyone know how interesting your life is.  (I'm not being facetious - for reals - I only do anything interesting about six times a year so hell yeah I'm going to post it!)  Its also acceptable to have mutual cell phone time if you're together an extended period of time.  Like you're spending the weekend together and its the morning after a night out and you mutually decided that neither of you can be arsed speaking out loud so lets just both sit on different couches and catch up on pinterest.  Right ? Totally acceptable.

Does it offend me when you text other friends in front of me when we're out for dinner? Nah, I'm not easily offended, but does it irritate the shit out of me? Yup, sure does. Its right up there with listening to co-worker's medical problems. 

I'm going to call myself out on it even...if you have seen me whip out my phone and start texting while you're trying to have a conversation with me - you have been boring me.  That's why I've done it.  So I'm left to conclude that I bore a tonne of people. Which shocks me. (PB is not shocked that I can't believe I bore people)

Now...caveat. I'm not talking about the time you remembered right in the middle of dinner that you totally forgot to let your kid out of the cage in the basement so you text your husband to remind him to do so....I mean that happens and is TOTALLY worthy of a text.  But otherwise..unless I suddenly meet a friend who's one of the following:

a) transplant surgeon
b) Tornado chaser
c) fireman
d) FBI agent
e) person waiting for a lifesaving transplant (transplants are super important)

I think you can probably get through a 2 hour dinner/meet and greet without checking to see what your other friends are up to.  Don't you?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Where We Went: NYC Edition

In early December, we grabbed the chance to knock off one of my all time bucket list trips.  NYC at Christmas time.  Oh the lights, Rockefeller Centre, the store windows along 5th...swoon.  We had an absolute amazing time, and have some definite recommendations for your next trip.

We stayed at The ACE Hotel.  So cool.  So perfect.  I loved that the entire hotel from lobby to hotel rooms to bars to gym looked like something ripped out of a DOMINO Magazine, shelter mag perfection. PB loved how inherently cool simply staying at such a cool place made him.  By day the Stumptown Coffee Roasters line snaked through the lobby, at night we could lounge on comfortable couches and drink champagne cocktails while listening the newest indie music. (Am I lame for typing indie music?) The ACE is not cheap - but we managed to score a deal (a deal that still gave PB heart palpitations) by using Vacationist - have you checked it out yet?  Great place to score great hotels.  The location was alright, away from Times Square and other touristy spots, but a block from the subway and a 20 minute walk to Chelsea and the West Village - so perfect for us. 

We got in a bit late on Thursday night, but not too late to check out the pizza place that I'd heard great things about Co. - Jim Lahey's (of "No knead bread" fame....not of Trailer Park Boy fame) pizzeria in Chelsea.  Such a great place, loved it. We shared some wine and olives, and then each had an absolutely amazing pizza - I went with a spinach pizza and PB went with the shitake and walnut option.  And we had our first celebrity siting - Lutz from 30 Rock.   Very cool.

During our first day, we headed straight to Rockefeller Centre to nab tickets to "Top of the Rock".  I should first explain that my idea of an ultimate weekend away is walking between bar to restaurant, bar to restaurant, and checking out a few neighbourhoods and shops along the way.  PB can't imagine a weekend away unless it involves standing in huge crowds waiting to overpay for tourist attractions.  So we compromise.  Given that we'd both been to NYC before, and both had done a few of the necessary tourist visits, we agreed we could keep crowds of fanny pack wearing mid westerners to a minimum, but I consented to a few. 

Top of the Rock was neat, amazing views, we were lucky we got a beautiful morning and could see for miles.  While at Rockefeller Centre, we got to check out the famous tree (ummm...a bit unimpressive in person) and the skating rink (also...tiny) - but no skating for us...we learned the hard way on Bower Ponds six years ago that PB should not put on skates. Ever. Again. Next up - breakfast.  I'd read great things about a chain bakery Le Pain Quotidiene.  It lived up to the hype.  Sure its a chain, but a chain that offers organic, whole foods in a gorgeous setting and friendly service. 

We followed breakfast with a walk down Fifth Ave.  The store fronts were awe inspiring.  The store windows of Saks was obviously fascinating, and the building facades of all were covered in dripping lights.  Gorgeous.  (None of which our camera captured at all).  No shopping for us though..frankly I'm beyond going into stores where the sales clerks who make 1/4 of what we do look at me like they know the most likely thing I'm going to buy that day is a new pair of sweatpants from Old Navy. 

 We made our way down to Central Park and enjoyed a hour or so of walking through the beautiful park.  PB raised the possibility of going to the zoo...and I raised my objections to animals in cages.  We decided to just walk and enjoy the sunshine.  Oh to live close to the park and be able to jog the park everyday..swoon.

We followed our walk with a trip to my number one wish destination.  Eataly.  Oh. Good. Lord.  This could be a blog post all its own.  The shop/restaurant of Mario Batali was insane, in every possible insane amazing way.  Imagine a massive store, fulled to the brim with the finest Italian ingredients fresh off the boat, from cheese to fresh produce, to sauce to espressos to gelato to fresh made pasta in every shape and size.  On top of that, there are seven Italian restaurants each featuring a different specialty, including meat, fish, pasta, sweets, a wine and cheese area, but we chose the Vegetable restaurant (ok - in fairness we did want to check out the pasta restaurant, but the wait was a couple of hours...and so we decided being the good veggies, we'd check out the veg restaurant instead).  It was still great.  The wine was amazing, the food beautiful.  And while I would have sat there for hours sipping wine and taking it all in (I could read Marinara bottle labels for days) the place was balls to the walls packed and crazy and PB was getting the stink eye from security for fondling the pastry counter so we decided to move on. 

From Eataly, we walked down to the West Village to soak in some of the atmosphere of the village.  We checked out some shops and when decided our feet were about to fall off, we found a small hole in the wall wine and panini bar called 'Ino Cafe/Bar and squeezed into a corner (the cafe only sat about 10 people) and shared some wine and antipasto.

After rehydrating...we headed to MOMA where Target sponsors "free Friday nights", how cool is that? Can you even imagine how excited PB was that I found us a free activity? Every Friday night MOMA is open to the public free of charge.  We could have spent a day there, but instead checked out some Monet, Frida and Picasso and then headed to Times Square to take in our show.

We decided to go with a play over a musical, because truth be told...and I know I'm going to hear ALL kinds of judgement on this, but I find the musicals a bit hokey sometimes.  PB loves himself some show tunes, but I prefer a play.  So we compromised and chose a comedy play, "Seminar" staring Alan Rickman.  SNAPE!!! Funny, but not hilarious - but it was cool to see Alan Rickman live.

After Seminar - we went to Candle 79 - for what was the best meal of the trip (although to be was an almost impossible call...every single meal was amazing - thanks to my ridiculously extensive restaurant research and planning).   While Candle 79 is vegan, trust us - anyone would find it absolutely amazing.

We followed dinner with a couple hours in the lobby bar at the ACE and then retired after a super full but awesome day.

On Saturday we kicked off our day by walking to the Chelsea Market, where we were overwhelmed by the veggie brunch options, but PB couldn't resist an old fashion veggie pot pie while I went with a crepe that made PB curse his uncontrollable desire for pastries (no seriously - he swore at me for choosing something that looked so good, that's how aggressive we get about food) .

After the Chelsea market, against my good judgment (but what could be called the ultimate self sacrifice of sanity and happiness for the sake of their partner) we walked through Times Square in the day light (I HATE TIMES SQUARE SO MUCH - PB loved it). After I somehow survived the tackiness and claustrophobic atmosphere of Times Square,  we headed to Grand Central Terminal - which was absolutely beautiful.  I'd read the architecture was amazing, and it was indeed.  So much more than just a train station.   Also super fun - downstairs in front of the Oyster Bar - there is a section of the corridor where you can each stand in separate corners of the room, whisper - and you can hear the other person's whispers! Your whisper travels up the wall and across the ceiling! How cool is that! Sure you feel like a bit of a knob doing it - but when in Rome....

After Grand Central Terminal - we took the subway over to Brooklyn so we could walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge.  I wish we'd had more time to explore Brooklyn and Williamsburg, but alas, two days is never enough. (And I think PB thought Brooklyn was Harlem and was a bit nervous)  After crossing the Brooklyn Bridge we checked out the newly constructed 9/11 Memorial.  While we certainly still view that tragedy as not only an American tragedy but also an International tragedy, neither of us felt the need to tour the memorial site and museum.  We'll always remember, but it just felt a bit wrong to us about how much money is being made off this unimaginable tragedy.

At this point we were especially hungry and we headed back to the West Village for a late lunch at Bar Pitti - While the food wasn't amazing (good...just...I mean..our we are such total food snobs), we have never felt so unattractive in our entire lives.  We were likely the only people in the restaurant that weren't models and we were surrounded by Italian.  It was great people watching.  Once we tired of being the shortest, fattest and plainest people in the room, we decided to walk off our wine by wandering through the West Village.  We managed to work up a thirst again (What? We get easily dehydrated...stop judging) and stopped in at Dos Caminos for a margarita for PB and some cava for me. On our way back to the hotel we stopped off and wandered the cutest Christmas Market and ate the MOST amazing Parisan (are they still Parisian if you eat them in NYC?) macaroons.

We wandered back to the hotel stopping at a few shops to window shop on the way (please..why waste money on shopping when there was so much pasta and cava to buy?).  That night we had an amazing meal at Scarpetta - which also has a separate vegetarian menu - and I'm still raving about the braised lentils.

We wrapped up our night with a few night caps at the John Dory bar at the ACE, and pouted about how we wanted to have more time in NYC. 

We finished our trip with the. most. amazing. brunch at The Breslin (also at the ACE) - it was so good that we managed to get in an argument when PB wouldn't share his and then we felt  properly sorry for ourselves that we had to head back to Moncton.

Although we say this at the end of every trip - we'll be back to NYC.  Sooner rather than later hopefully.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

You Can't Always Get What You Want..........

Not sure who coined those words but they are true; painful but true.  It was 5 years this summer that Lindsay and I got married on Prince Edward Island. Other than marrying Lindsay the best thing about that whole weekend was having all my mates make the long trip from all over the globe to share in the festivities. 
At that time I never really thought about the sacrifices they all made to come to my wedding, obviously I was getting married and they would all come, right? And they did, of all my closest friends that I invited every single one of them made the 2 week trip for my stag and then wedding. Great times for sure.
5 years ago I was the first of my friends to get married and I looked forward to returning the favour and joining in for all the banter of their staggers and nuptials.

Slight snag though, I lived in Canada and most of them lived in Scotland and Ireland.  No matter we make good money so as long as the wedding invites didn't all come at once I should be able to make it to everyone's wedding that made the trip to mine.  Things started out well, first there was  Ferg and Wendy who got married in November 2009, followed by Gogs and Janis in May 2010, then there was Max and Kelly in September 2010 followed by John and Rachel in July 2011.  All weddings were great and well worth the trip.  With Gogs, Max and John's weddings I was unable to make the stag do as well.  Ask any man (me) with his wife standing next to him (Lindsay) if he would prefer to go to the wedding of a friend or the stag weekend the man (me) would say "of course the wedding".  Ask that man (me) with no wife within earshot and he would say the stag or both. 

There are many great things about living in Canada (this may be a subsequent blog post) but one of the toughest things over the last few years is to not have been part of the stag weekends of some of my best friends.  My stag weekend was immense, 16 guys taking Montreal by storm for 3 full days.  I know how much fun I had during that time and would have loved to have been a part of it for John's, Max's and Gog's too. 

So up until last year I was at least able to make it to the weddings of everyone that had made it to mine.  Then 2012 rolled around and wedding season went into overdrive, first invite was for Phil and Gail's in June in Scotland, of course we planned on making it to that one, then i got wind that my university friend Chris was getting married in April in Ireland.  Then Tony finally got his finger out and proposed to the lovely Jo, who said yes and there was wedding number 3, planned for September 2012.  Tony was my best man and when he asked me to be his that meant there was no way I wasn't making it to his stag as well.  Then our good friends Brett and Lisa, from Calgary, who moved to Angola and we haven't seen for 2 years asked us if we wanted to join them in Portugal for a week in March. 

Obviously some tough decisions were going to have to be made.  I'm really good at saying No to Lindsay when things that she wants are more for her than for me but it's a lot harder to say no to yourself when you want to do something.

And so it has come to pass that we will be spending my vacation days with Brett and Lisa in Portugal this March.  I will then fly over to Ireland for Tony's stag do in August and then back for his wedding in London in September, with a few days afterwards to spend some time with family and friends in Scotland.
I am really looking forward to my holidays this year, cant wait to see Lisa and Brett in Portugal and finally make it to a stag weekend of one of my friends in August, followed by his wedding in September and some time with family. But I will be down on April 14th (when Chris is getting married) and June 23rd (Phil's wedding day) knowing that I was unable to make it for their big day's. 

I realise there are worse things I could have to go without and I know that I have made the decision to live in Canada for the time being.  But never take for granted having your friends close by, especially when some nice innocent girl decides she wants to spend the rest of their lives with one of them...........

Until next time.....

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy Weekend

What are you up to this weekend?

We're watching this
We tried this - it was shockingly great
And hanging out with Jane
And doing some shopping here
And if I have my way drinking a little of this
Maybe we'll drink a little of that here

And ummmm, how great is this show..we don't even have kids but it. 

And seriously, I'm so tired of people saying how busy they are....if you say those words you should read this

Have an awesome weekend.

What We Ate: Chocolate Bar Pie

Going vegan has in no way prohibited us from enjoying some A-MAZ-ING desserts.  Convinced you need butter, sugar, eggs or cream to make something wonderful? WRONG.  Not convinced? My dad even ate this and like it, and he refuses to eat anything that's white because it gets stuck in his craw.  What's a craw you ask? A craw is a body part located somewhere between the stomach and the mouth, and Dad may be the only person that has one.  Also, there are notable exceptions to Dad's no white foods rule - in fact, when Dad says he doesn't eat white foods because they get stuck in his craw, he really only means he doesn't eat (or want to see) ceasar salad dressing, tofu, cottage cheese or cream cheese (unless the cream cheese is a different color - and then its ok and won't get stuck in your craw.)

But I digress.  The point to the craw explanation was to say that Dad ate tofu (pronounced toofuuu by Dad) and liked it. And you will too.  This pie is amazing.  PB was so blown away that he gushed about it for days (and also very sneakily got up before me the morning after...which should have made me suspicious...just so he could eat the rest of it before I got my hands on it).

Click here for recipe and while you're on Katie's site - check out some of her other vegan desserts - I don't even know where she comes up with these ideas - but thank god she does.

What We Did: Family Room Progress

We seem to be drawn to in some weird we hate them and yet we buy them way to yellow houses.  Our house in Calgary was originally a combination of yellow, pink and blue walls, and this home was also a wash in yellow when we moved in.  (Here's what the family room looked like when we first came to view the house) 

Our first priority was a paint job, knowing there was more we wanted to do to make the family room our own, but we wanted to we waited.  (I also invested $8 in a some high heat safe spray paint to spray out that lovely brass accent on the fireplace - and ripped those damn vertical blinds down)

I thought I was committed to expensive built-ins in our family room.   I had this picture in my mind as inspiration.

But as time went on, and money was directed at other fun things, I decided that if we were ever going to have a family room we didn't hate, it might be time to compromise.  At the same time, PB was waging his own internal battle.  You see for years we had been the brunt of harsh jokes and criticism over our (PB's) resistance to buying a tv bigger than 18inches.  People (we won't name names) even communicated their dislike of coming to our house due to the small tv situation.  We tried to hold strong.  We maintained our disdain for large tvs.  Even tried to convince people we didn't need a larger tv because we were above tv watching.  Who needs to be able to actually read the sub titles or the score of the game?

We broke. 

Turns out, Coronation Street IS SO MUCH BETTER on a 42inch screen.  And when PB was able to secure a roll back on an already low price...(plus a discount...please of course) a tv was purchased. 

My one rule, my absolute rule, was I would not allow for wires to show by hanging the tv and letting wires dangle. As much as I hate a tv being a center point of a room, I hate seeing media wires even more.  So while I was willing to compromise for the sake of Coronation Street, I absolutely would not allow wires to hang. 

Lucky for PB, G-Dad Bowman was visiting at the time, and while I argued that we would need to hire someone to properly hang and install the tv, Allan would hear nothing of it.  Why pay someone else for something they could easily do on their own?

I had my doubts. I sternly reminded them the dangers of dealing with a wall where a propane gas fire place sat.  I reminded them what a waste the cost of the tv would be if they inadequately hung the tv and it crashed, possibly killing one of our beloved pets.  I reminded them over and over again that I would call a professional in the second I saw wires. Many G&T's were consumed, the project was discussed at length, voices may have been raised more than once, but two weeks later....

I ate my words. 

 They did a brilliant job.  Using two  HEMNES cabinets from Ikea to flank the fireplace, we were able to conceal the media boxes (although we did need to cut a hole the size of the cable box in the back of the cabinet because the box was just slightly too deep to fit, but no bother) , and the wires are adequately hidden.  And before you object to the obvious height of the television and how that must be a strain on the family room is large enough that the seating is far enough back that I assure you, you don't even need to tilt your heads.  We're pleased.  Obviously if money was no object I'd have spent $20K on custom built ins and found some way to conceal the television when not in use, but since money is much more enjoyably spent on wine and trips to Italy...we found a $2200 solution.  And every evening as we settle down to watch our beloved Corie, we appreciate G-Dad's work.

I give you a before and after:

Now we just need some crown molding (another G-Dad job?) and we'll be all set.

What We Want: Farming Preparations and Pursuit of Passions

Close your eyes.  Imagine money was no object.  Not in a you just won the lotto and you're running off to the Maldives way but more in some sort of post apocalyptic/communist world where people worked for reasons other than money way.  Just go with it.  Imagine.  What would you do?

PB without hesitation says he would mow lawns at a golf course.  That nothing would make him happier than grooming perfect greens and fairways.   (Side note - if he won the lotto he'd buy a ski hill just so he could drive the grooming machine...and he tries to argue he's not OCD). 

At this point in the imagination exercise PB interjects to say he would mow lawns for a living now if I'd let him.  That's another discussion for another time. 

I would farm.  (Side note - if we were talking a lotto win my farm would be for rescued animals ranging from cats to cattle).  Does that surprise you? Here's something else that might surprise you - in grade seven, when you have to fill out those personality surveys to determine what you should be when you grow up - mine came back farmer.  To which my friends and family and I found hilarity.  Imagine, Lindsay...farming.  hahahahaha.

No seriously, I want to farm.

At this point in the imagination exercise PB usually asks for reassurance that this is indeed just an exercise and this isn't my way of saying that I'm quitting my job. 

Specifically, I'd grow organic produce and have an apple orchard, and probably grow some grapes...because why not, and when I wasn't busy sowing seeds and what not - I'd make organic vegan energy bars and sell them at the local farmers market.  Maybe I'd even make and sell some herb jellies.  Who knows.  I just know its going to be it would be awesome.

I like to think this exercise is a good one to determine what really makes you happy and what you're passionate about.  And since PB already has a big two acre lawn to mow every week, (and to be fair, I never see him more at peace than when he's cruising around on the mower, shirtless with his shorts rolled up to avoid tan lines) I need to put my presumed but yet to be truly tested love of gardening into effect.

The last few summers I've grown tomatoes and peppers, kale and lettuce and an assortment of herbs in planters on our deck.  Obviously that limits me.  So this year I'm expanding.    Based on articles like this, I'm thinking of going the route of raised beds. 

Given that we live on two acres, one would think I'd have plenty of space.  But unfortunately, PB has ruled out any spot where he feels he's got the grass looking decent, and we've ruled out the path that the dogs usually chase the ball when we throw it from the deck (sometimes we prefer to play fetch with a drink in our hands....while sitting down...judge away).  That leaves me a whole lot of shady places that will be no good.  So I'm thinking if I did raised beds, I could at least prevent the dogs from running right through the centre of them...maybe.   Obviously it won't keep the cats out, but menh, what's a little extra fertilizer.

So that's how I'm pursuing my passion.  I'll keep you posted.  Now go have a glass of wine and imagine what you would do.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Where We Want to Go: Amazing Places

Ummmm....Amazing right? This is in Madeira, and island of Portugal.   This website with heaps of amazing places around the world really made me want to get the hell out of here. 

Truer words were never spoken.

What We Think: International Women's Day Edition

In honor of International Women's Day, I thought I would share some thoughts I've been having recently that stem from some of my most recent reading material and movies we've watched. Right now I'm ripping through a light read called "The House at Riverton" by Kate Morton.  I picked it up because I'm slightly obsessed with the BBC series "Downton Abbey". Like the series, the book is set in the 1920s, and tells the story of a wealthy British family from the perspective of one of their servants (who the story goes, happens to be one of their illigitimate children..of course).  But what really fascinates me in the book is the lives of women before the 1970s.  I also just finished Katherine Graham's autobiography - another great story that spans the life of an extreamly influential women from the early 1920s onwards.   We also just saw "The Iron Lady", and I was fascinated by Margaret Thatcher's (excuse the term) balls to get in politics when she did, as the only women in the British Parliament.   Further - I've been making my way through Mad Men, and while about six years behind the rest of the world, am completely hooked.

I enjoy reading about and watching how very different these women's lives were only 40-90 years ago from my own today.  Granted, I was neither born into nor did I marry into a family with the kind of money that these wealthy families had, so the comparison between our lives isn't entirely smooth, but none the less, I like to imagine how different my life would have been had I been born before the suffragist movement, or even before the women's liberation movement.

Would I have gone to University? Probably, given that I was the oldest child and that my father had.  Would I have been brave enough to go into a program like law and been one of the only women? Would I even have been accepted? Would I have gone to University for the sole purpose of meeting a husband while I toiled away in an Art History program (which according to hollywood is what all women who went to University between 1950-1965 took).  And had I met PB, or another professional like PB, would I have been happy to trade in my modest career of writing social notes for the local paper to stay at home and manage the home?

Let's imagine I had indeed met PB in 1952 and perhaps he opened his own little pharmacy, joined the Chamber of Commerce and the local golf club (all of which I would obviously be excluded from).  Would I be happy with a life that involved waking at about 8:00 am, to see PB off with a lunch packed and a kiss on the cheek, followed by some deep thinking regarding what I must remind our housekeeper to do that week, followed by some pottering about the yard, finding reasons to critique our landscapers, after which I realize if I don't hurry I'll be late for lunch with the ladies so I quickly change into a lovely dress and pearls, ensuring that my make up is perfect and my hair properly styled. 

After a gossipy lunch with the ladies, during which we discuss the latest charitable cause we are supporting by throwing a fabulous event (for which I've offered to supervise the caterers and florists - very generous given how busy I am), I head home to ensure that the house keeper has adequately done her work.  I arrive home obviously a bit worn out from my long lunch and the stress of managing household staff, only to be confronted with the fact that my housekeeper has had to leave early and I'll now be responsible for reheating the casserole she prepared for us.  Sigh.  On top of that, there is a Chamber of Commerce event that night that we'll be attending  and I am far from ready, and PB will be home in a matter of hours and will expect me ready when he arrives. 

I spend the next hour or so redoing my hair and makeup, and deciding which dress I'll wear.  I barely get the casserole in the oven and PB's scotch poured in time by the time he walks in the door.  Of course PB notices right away that in my rush of the day I've left the mail sitting on the counter, (very untidy), but luckily I'm able to smooth things over by promptly refilling his glass and complimenting him on his good decisions at work that he informs me about.  

We head off to the event, PB mingles with other business owners while I focus on making the best possible impression because of course my appearence and behavior reflects entirely on PB, and chat enthusiastically with the other wives about our latest home renovations, the stress of managing household help, the latest children's programs, and indulge in a bit of good natured gossip about a former aquaintance who's had the misfortune of being divorced.  PB and I head home and during the drive I politely listen and agree with PB's impressions from the evening, and am careful not to bother PB with too much information about my own day, after all, he's had a much busier and harder day than I and should be able to relax once home.  We romantically retire for the evening, thougherly exhausted from such a demanding day.

Let's just quickly compare that to the life that I have now, for which my predescessors fought so very hard for, and which I'm very appreciative of.

My day begins at 5:35 - PB is out of town again so I'm on my own.  As soon as the alarm goes I'm up quickly, get dressed and head out the door to walk the dogs for 40 minutes. I rush to get them fed, and fit in a short work out video before I shower.  Its very clear that now women not only have to be thin and pretty but we also have to be fit and strong and have six pack abs to be desirable.  Hence eating less and pottering about won't do it anymore.  During my workout one of the dogs throws up all their food and I'll now have to clean up that huge pile of vomit because the last time I tried to pretend I hadn't noticed the vomit PB totally busted me on it.   

I rush into the shower, during which I quickly do an inventory of my various black pants and ponder which have the least amount of dog hair on them.  I apply a quick coat of undereye concealer but only because I recently read an article that said that women who wear some makeup are more respected in the workplace.  Awesome.  I blowdry my bangs, but realize I have no time to blow dry the rest of my hair so I throw my hair into my usual messy ponytail, and consider myself done.  I quickly pack my own lunch because we're trying to save money so I avoid eating out.  I whip up a smoothie for my breakfast because there is certainly no time to sit down. 

I get to my car only to remember that I'm out of gas and out of windshield washing fluid.  Even though I'm now already late for work due to the vomit situation, I'll have to stop at the garage and deal with that, which I dread, because I'm obviously going to get covered in the dirt that's covering my car.  I drive 40 minutes to my place of work.  I get to work, fit in a run at lunch because I'm training for a half marathon (modern women should also be athletes).  I work 9 hours, get in my car and drive the 40 minutes home. 

Once home, I'll quickly change into an old pair of PB's sweat pants and an old stained hoody, and I'll need to take the dogs out for another walk because they're crazy from being inside all day.  I'll need to get the kitchen cleaned up from my breakfast smoothie (the damn blender leaked everywhere) and get a load of laundry on before PB gets home and asks what I was so busy doing that I didn't have time to empty the dishwasher (and I'll feel guilty because the night before I wasted hours on Pinterest instead of getting the house vaccumed).  I'll then need to make dinner that's vegan (the most compassionate, healthy and environmentally friendly diet - what else would today's women eat?) but is also creative, because PB hates having the same old thing for dinner and he's also trying to lose weight so it has to be healthy, and we only have squash, zucchini and soy yogurt in the fridge.  I'll be desperate for a glass of wine - but the latest studies have shown that the modern woman was drinking too much, so now I only allow myself wine on weekends. 

After dinner, PB, ever the modern man, will generously offer to tidy up the kitchen while pointing out to the dogs that he doesn't mind cleaning up the kitchen at all, especially not after a long day and a long drive.   This is helpful for me because in addition to my full time job  I also work a part time consulting job and need to get a report done for them I've been working on.   While I'm working on the report,  I'll remind PB that I need his T4 so I can get started on our taxes (the modern woman does the family's taxes herself).  This will trigger a conversation about what I made this year vs. what PB made and we'll joke about how I'm lucky he's there to support my ass and then I'll say that we really.really need a new blender.  PB will sigh and point out that there always seems to be something "I need" and that money doesn't grow on trees.

PB will then ask if there's anything in the house that I can pack for his lunch tomorrow.   I point out there's leftovers, but then we'll argue about the fact that he always forgets to take the leftovers that I pack up for him and ends up buying his lunch.  While I'm working on my report - PB will ask if I want to cuddle.  I'll grimace at him and he'll say I'm so unaffectionate and cold and ask why I hate him.  I'll remind him I don't hate him but that I'm working and I also know what he really means by "cuddle" (but silently think to myself that I really should stop being so frigid because that latest article I read said that frigid wives are why men cheat.)  We'll zone out in front of the tv for an hour, and then I'll head to bed at 8:30 and read books and magazines that make me think my life isn't so awesome and that I'd really prefer writing thank you notes all day and then flick off the light at 9:30 so that I'm ready to go the next morning.

Please don't get me wrong.  I have a such a great, easy and comfortable life compared to millions of women world wide.  I know how lucky I am.  I truly do.  But there are many times, times like when you're elbow deep in dog vomit that you are praying doesn't get on your work clothes because they're the last clean pants you have, that one can't help but fantasize of days before the modern woman's life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What we did: Weekend Edition

One of our favorite winter weekend activities (my ONLY tolerated winter activity) is to pack the pups up and head to Kouchibouguac National Park, just an hour north east of Moncton.  We love it in winter for a few reasons, the park doesn't charge the typical admission fees (one guess on who loves that), there are fabulous trails for snowshoeing, and we usually have the park to ourselves which means we can completely disregard the leash rules.  Through the week the pups suffer along on leashed walks, but at least once a week we have to let them explode and run hysterically, otherwise Mars is bound to explode inside.  Hence the importance of places we can let them run.

Sunday we were woken at 6:30 (which believe it or not is a long lie in Marley's world) and decided to get a jump start on the day and head straight up to Kouchibouguac thinking there wouldn't be another soul there.

Fail.  Just as we let the dogs out of the car, and just as it was particularly evident we had no control over them whatsoever, the friendly park ranger pulled up to remind us the dogs had to be leashed.

Deep. Frustrated. Sighs.

Further, it was especially important to leash the dogs because there was a moose dying along the road a bit along the way and it would be preferable that the dogs didn't terrorize the poor thing.  Apparently the moose was being monitored by the park staff, but had not made any signs of recovery.  

Obviously NO ONE was happy about the leash situation, this was to M&M the ultimate betrayal, to have to be leashed at their favorite park.  Its also especially tricky to snow shoe comfortably when you're just trying to keep up with a sprinting dog. 

We did indeed come upon the dying moose*.  PB's desire to take multitude pictures of this poor thing as it stared back at us in obvious pain and discomfort triggered a heated discussion over the inappropriateness of exploiting this animal for the sake of a stupid facebook photo, and just as PB was about to tell me exactly what he thought of that, Marley decided to break the tension by losing his shit and barking at this poor beast, and we decided it best to move on.

After we were a good safe distance away from the moose (and away from the prying eyes of the friendly forest rangers) we decided to bushwhack our own trail through the woods so that we were able to let the dogs run.  Sadly for Mar, the snow was too deep for him to run anywhere but directly behind our snowshoe tracks.

Weather was beautiful, and aside from an unfortunate start to our walk (and the downer of seeing such a beautiful animal in so much pain and being able to do nothing), we had a great few hours in the park.  An almost perfect way to start a Sunday.

*I have unilaterally vetoed any pictures of the moose appearing on this blog.  I'm sure I'll hear about it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Introduction of Life Brigman

This blog is intended to answer the question we get from time to time (yes, primarily from our mothers) "what have you been up to". We'll be the first to acknowledge that most of the time we're up to a whole lot of not much, but Lindsay has always loved to take not much and turn it into what she believes to be a story of suspense and hilarity while PB appreciates a good written record of our goings on so he can remember it beyond the next day. We hope that a sneak peek into our lives will provide you some mindless distraction every so often, but we entirely appreciate that in all likelihood only (Lindsay's) mother will read this with any regularity.

We apologize in advance for the following:

1. An absolute deplorable show of grammar and spelling for two people who have over 11 years of University between them.

2. A ridiculous amount of gratuitous pet shots. They're adorable. We know it. You know it. Deal with it. While we're at it - we also personify our pets. Just go with it.

3. Regular posts that could be interpreted as rants. Its our blog. We (Lindsay) will rant all she wants.

4. Blog absenteeism. In absence of regular blog posts, presume that our lives have become so boring Lindsay can't even spin a tale from them and we're drowning our boredom in homemade wine.

5. Made up words. It happens and trust that PB has already informed Lindsay that no such word exists but we're leaving it up there for your enjoyment.