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    Outstanding in the Field

    2011 - 03.29

    One of my cousins posted a link to this on Facebook and it sounds pretty cool.  You get to go to a farm, and probably sit in the fields and eat a presumably delicious dinner.  There’s even a couple of events in BC (July 9, Pemberton; July 10, Aldergrove).  It really sounds like something that Karin would totally love to do, and that it would be fun.  Unfortunately there’s a downside: the price.  The BC events are $190/person, which might be justifiable for the experience but is not something that I think I could justify in the near future.  If someone out there goes, let us know how it is/was.

    Outstanding in the Field

    Our mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.

    Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls. Since 1999 we have set the long table at farms or gardens, on mountain tops or in sea caves, on islands or at ranches. Occasionally the table is set indoors: a beautiful refurbished barn, a cool greenhouse or a stately museum. Wherever the location, the consistent theme of each dinner is to honor the people whose good work brings nourishment to the table.

    Ingredients for the meal are almost all local (sometimes sourced within inches of your seat at the table!) and generally prepared by a celebrated chef of the region. After a tour of the site, we all settle in: farmers, producers, culinary artisans, and diners sharing the long table.


    2011 - 03.28

    Doing the Writer’s Intensive last week was awesome.  I’ve tried to explain to people what the best parts were, but there was a lot that was really great.  Perhaps bullet points would help, or an ordered list… ooh… ordered list.  Ok.

    1. Just sitting down and writing.  So often, I don’t think of writing because there’s just so much other stuff that I should be doing, or that I’m busily ignoring by playing Frontierville.  Having that time carved out each day where there would be writing was very helpful.
    2. Being with other writers.  We were all women from different backgrounds and places in our lives and we all had amazing things to say about ourselves and our surroundings.  Writing, by nature, is a very solitary pursuit (coffee shops notwithstanding) and writers spend a lot of time in their own heads, so it’s great to talk with other people who think that’s normal…or at least, not totally strange.
    3. Learning that not all writing needs to be a novel ready to publish and sell.  I knew this theoretically, but often didn’t want to bother starting unless I was reaching for some goal that was FINAL AND INCREDIBLE AND AMAZING TO BE SHARED WITH THE WORLD!  Writing in a journal, even a nature journal where I’m not exploring my existential, innermost thoughts is a good way to strengthen the “writer muscle” and get me in the habit of putting words on paper.  Nora Roberts (or Jodi Picoult) said “You can’t edit a blank page” and that’s something I need to keep remembering.  Get the words out, and eventually good ones will come out.
    4. Receiving writing prompts. This follows #3 because it helped me to write throwaway pieces, which put no pressure on me.  It also helps because it gave me some great ideas for people and stories that may be written in the future, or used to build other stories.  It was also awesome to listen to how other people took the writing prompts and made them their own.  Some people did fiction, others did non-fiction or descriptive essays, while others did poetry for the same prompts.  It was fascinating to see the different ways that people took them.
    5. Getting your writing heard.  If there’s much better than a stunned pause after reading some tough writing out loud, I’m not sure what it is.  Unless it’s laughter after something that you thought was hilarious in your head, but weren’t sure if it translated into humour with other people.  Or seeing nods around the circle and knowing that your truth was transmitted to another person.  Or being told in the elevator on the way to class that someone really likes your writing and thinks it’s really powerful. *thumbs up*

    Overall, it was a great experience.  There’s another Writer’s Intensive during the summer which I will probably take, as well as some weekly meet ups through the spring into the summer.  It keeps my writing in the front of my mind and gets me to do some work while real life is happening around me.

    If you’re interested in reading any of the writing, I’ll be publishing it at http://www.randomsynapses.ca and I can be followed on Twitter @randomsynapses to get tweets when I update.

    Putting away leftovers

    2011 - 03.28

    Last night, lying in bed I asked Karin “Did you remember to put your chicken in the fridge?”  You see she had gotten full and hadn’t finished all of her dinner, and putting away leftovers is not necessarily something she always remembers to do (usually in a cute sort of way).  Anyway, yesterday she had remembered to put it away, which was good, but then came the disclaimer: “But it’s on top of your juice so be careful.”

    You see, she had put it into the fridge on the plate she had been using for dinner, but had not covered it with anything.  That’s a big no-no from my perspective, although I suppose not everyone shares that opinion.  Anyway, so I got out of bed to put the chicken into a container, and to take the plate out of the fridge.  I open the fridge, and laugh, “Karin you left your knife on the plate”, I observe as I reach for the plate.

    “I know, and the fork too, to save time.”

    I laugh again, and put the chicken in a suitable container and add the cutlery and plate to the dishwasher.

    * this story is mostly true, quotes are probably in truth paraphrases of the actual conversation.

    Finger Cooking: Boston Pizza

    2011 - 03.27

    Maybe you’ve seen the ads for Boston Pizza where they talk about “finger cooking” or as it’s been known for ages: ordering in.  We felt like having a relaxing night in, so we decided we’d give their new on-line ordering a try.  Pretty easy to use, and a few other benefits as well.

    • You get a special on your 1st, 5th and 10th order.  For us at least on our first order it was a free order of the Bandera Pizza Bread appy ($6.99 value)
    • Also, Boston Pizza’s pizza is pretty expensive, and I don’t think they do a good enough job of promoting this fact, but when you order two pizzas the cheaper on is half price, so that’s another benefit or ordering in

    I also signed up for their e-newsletter, and got a coupon for a free appy for my next visit (in store).  Anyway, the food is exactly what you expect from Boston Pizza, and the ordering is easy, including ordering the Boston Royal without onion (after selecting the pizza, you are presented with a pop-up that lets you pick what size and crust, and the topings that are on it are already selected, you can add others, or remove existing ones, or have them put on one half or the other half only, or get extra of it; all pretty intuitive and easy to use).

    Don’t know how often we’ll order from there, as it’s a little more expensive than the typical pizza place, but the experience was good overall, and their menu is a bit more diverse as well.  Hopefully your experience will be positive as well.

    Writing Intensive

    2011 - 03.21

    Today marks the first of 5 days in a row where Karin will be spending time on her spring break taking a course.  However it should hopefully be fun.  It is a Writing Intensive course through Burnaby’s Leisure Guide.

    In previous year’s Karin has done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, although it’s now international) where during the month of November you challenge yourself to write a 50,000 word novel, and she successfully did it, may have been way back in 2006 though.

    Author has always been on her list of alternate careers, so hopefully this will be a positive step in that direction!

    Art is Weird

    2011 - 03.20

    I’ve been doing a lot of painting and drawing lately, plus a bit of knitting again. I have a painting project that I’m working on.  The first three paintings are on Flickr and I’ll be doing three more in the next little while.  I’ve also gotten interested in weaving, but don’t have access to a loom right now.  I’ve always dabbled in writing as well.  What’s so weird to me is how subjective art is.  I mean, yeah, I understand that people like some things more than others, but of the three people I’ve asked, each person likes a different one of the vegetables the best, and for the same reasons.  Generally speaking, when I draw something, I can tell if it’s good or not pretty quickly.  I can’t do that with writing.  This makes it harder for me to write, because I’m very big on instant gratification and knowing that something is good or not.  Sometimes I’ll come back to something I’ve written earlier and CRINGE because OMG WHO PUT THOSE ADVERBS IN THERE?!!? or I’ll realize that something I’ve highlighted and put a big note saying “MUST CHANGE THIS IS TERRIBLE WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??!!?” is actually pretty darned good. (I talk to myself in all caps and with lots of exclamation points.  Inside my brain is a very noisy place.)

    In the hopes of being able to change my view of writing, I am beginning an intensive writing program.  For the next week, I’ll be spending two hours a day with other aspiring authors and teachers to improve and refine my creative writing.  I’m so very excited about this.  As Dave has/will be mentioning in another post, writing is a career that I’ve often thought of, and this may be a great step towards that end.


    2011 - 03.20

    Karin already knows how to climb, and I suppose it’s maybe been a couple of years that she’s known how.  Now it’s my turn, I’m going to take the introductory course sometime over the next two weeks (while she’s off for spring break) so that I can learn how, and then we can go climbing together.

    Fortunately for me they did a GoodNews deal where I can take the into course for $35 instead of $77, so that’s a nice savings.  I also am able to climb for free for the week following the course which is why the spring break timing is particularly attractive.

    Back some years ago when we first started dating Karin was interested in playing Ultimate, and it became one of those physical activities which we could do together.  Over the years Karin’s interest in Ultimate waned and it’s now an activity that I mostly do by myself.  Well this time she started climbing first and enjoys it, I haven’t tried it yet, so we’ll see if this is our new “together activity” or not.

    For now at least we’ll be climbing out of Cliffhanger Coquitlam, which is where Karin first learned and where I’ll be taking my course.


    2011 - 03.20

    A new Canadian series (Endgame) on Showcase about a Chess Master who solves crimes without leaving his hotel.  The first episode was interesting, and we’ll have to see if they can continue to build on it to make it compelling.  It’s an interesting combination of Nero Wolfe and Monk.  One of the most interesting things about it though is that it is both filmed and set in Vancouver.  We get a lot of productions made here, but very few of them are actually supposed to be here.  The key difference is those sweeping exterior shots which you see are actually of Vancouver, and not San Fransisco or New York or somewhere else.  It’s worth tuning in just to see some of those shots.


    2011 - 03.06

    I like cookies. I like many different kinds of cookies, but I especially like chocolate chip cookies. I am, however, occasionally picky about certain things and cookies are one of them.  The checklist for my perfect chocolate chip cookie is as follows:

    1) Chewy.  Real chocolate chip cookies bend and melt in the mouth, and are not dry.

    2) Just chocolate chips. No nuts (except for white chocolate macademia, but that doesn’t count because white chocolate is NOT chocolate). Adding stuff like Skor bar pieces make it delicious, but not what we’re talking about.  An exception is Smarties or M&Ms.  They are honourary chocolate chips.

    3) Semi-sweet chocolate chips. A mixture of white and milk in addition to the semi-sweet are acceptable.

    4) Vanilla dough. A double chocolate cookie is delicious, and awesome, but is not a real chocolate chip cookie by my personal and completely biased criteria.

    That being said, Dave made cookies yesterday. They were crunchy and had pecans in them, breaking two of my iron clad rules…and they were freakin’ awesome. As I posted on Twitter and Facebook, “I may have eaten five chocolate chip cookies in six minutes, but since I washed them down with skim milk, they were a healthy snack, right??”

    Perhaps it may be time to revisit some of my other food rules and see if they can be bent slightly.

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