Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Piece of My Childhood

Not all that long ago, my parents really started cleaning out their basement so that they can use it. See, the basement was always filled with boxes of things belonging to my sister and I. A few at a time, my parents were dropping off these boxes of forgotten treasures. Now I have a full basement of boxes.

Among these treasures were a lot of books I had forgotten about. I have so many books it's almost embarrassing. In more recent years, I've tried to cut down on the amount I bring into the house, now refusing to purchase novels and other books I'm only going to look at once. This only makes sense to me, since it helps reduce clutter and the requirement to store these books, and getting them from the library saves me money. Win, win.

Back to my original story... amongst the boxes from my parents I found some of my most favourite books, including my 15 volume set of Charlie Brown 'Cyclopedias, written circa 1980. I loved these books. I read every single one cover to cover when I was around the age of 8. I was a very anxious kid, and reading seemed to help me escape my anxiety, so books like this that made me think and learn were perfect for me.

Now here's the sad part of the story... upon further investigation, I realized I was missing one of my beloved 'cyclopedias. Volume 8, the one about the stars and planets. I was devastated. I called my mom to tell her of my plight and to ask her where she had originally obtained these literary gems. She seemed to think she may have collected them one at a time from a local grocery store or something. She suggested I check eBay for a replacement.

Why didn't I think of that? I'm the IT professional in the family and didn't think to use modern technology to get what I want?!? Clearly, this indicates that I'm in the wrong profession.

I log onto eBay and lo and behold - my Charlie Brown 'Cyclopedia Volume 8, featuring Stars and Planets, for $3.99 USD. YES! I ended up buying it for $3, plus $5 shipping. I couldn't be happier. Thank you eBay!

I cannot wait to read the entire set all over again. It's funny how something like that can bring back such good feelings. Thanks for the 'cyclopedias Mom. Sorry for causing you and Dad so much grief being such an anxious kid - that couldn't have been easy to deal with.

What books did you love as a kid?

Friday, June 18, 2010

These are a few of my favourite things

I'm not usually one to blog about the particulars of my day, but today was a day when I did a lot of my favourite things, so I'm going to share.

I got up nice and early today, around 6.15am or so. I made coffee for Steve and I. This is a big deal. I'm never the one who makes the coffee - I'm always the one still in bed. Making the coffee in the morning really makes me feel good.

I worked half the day. Working half a day is great. I think 4 hours is the perfect length for a workday. It's enough to make you not get entirely fed up. It's been a bit of a rough week at work this week, so I welcomed the short day today.

I made the BEST lunch for Stephen and I today. I got home before he did (he only worked half the day today too), so I made lunch. Making coffee AND lunch in one day for both of us is a VERY good day. We dined on ciabatta paninis filled with roasted chicken breast (real chicken, not the sliced deli stuff), asparagus, roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and herbed mayo (made with fresh basil and parsley from our herb garden). They were delicious.

After lunch, we decided on a kayak. It was 30C here today, but the river we chose to paddle is nice and shady, so we packed some water and went. It was gorgeous. Usually we see some beaver, which slap the river with their tails and put on quite a show. Today we saw a fisherman, and came upon two men and a dog on a bit of an island with a radio and a cooler full of beer. We stopped to chat for a minute. Nice guys.

Stephen barbecued for dinner - we had T-Bones and Caesar salad. Very delicious. Samson got the remains of my steak with his dinner, about half of it. He was a very happy puppy.

I know what you're thinking - how can she possibly fit any more good into this day, it's near perfect.

I'll tell you how - go to a garden centre! I LOVE garden centres! I managed to get out having only bought the following: 2 fuschia hanging baskets, 2 boxes of seed tape, pumpkin starters, a ground cherry starter, and a glass hummingbird feeder - all for under $60. Total. Score.

Finally, Steve took me for ice cream. He knows this is really the way to my heart. I over-indulged with a scoop of Dark Chocolate Shiver and a scoop of Chocolate Peanut Butter Parfait. I also tried a new kind called Gold Mine - so good. I can never find my favourite kind anymore, which is a bit sad, but I know it's out there somewhere, and I'll DIE trying to find it. ;-) If I can't find it, I'll try all the kinds I can in vain, only to be pleasantly disappointed.

Couch time before bed.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Today's Random Thought

Why do we try to make water taste like anything other than water? If you would like to taste a peach, why don't you eat a peach?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cranberry Orange Muffins: Orange Muffins Filled With Pretty Red Gems

I love it when I discover something in the freezer that I have forgotten to use. Today I found some frozen cranberries that I bought on sale. I often pick things up on sale with the idea of using them later. Sometimes I forget to do that. Luckily, today was one of those days.

Cranberries are a gorgeous fruit. They're so pretty, you almost want to put them on some tiny hooks and wear them as earrings. Today I chose to put them in muffins.

I'm still thinking about the earrings though.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 Large Egg
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Oil
1 Cup Cranberries, Chopped (I used frozen)
3/4 Cup Orange Juice (the juice of 1 large range, plus frozen concentrated orange juice to top up the 3/4 cup)
Grated Zest of One Large Orange

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Measure first 4 ingredients into large bowl. Stir. Make a well in the centre. Set aside.

Beat next 3 ingredients in medium bowl.

Add remaining 3 ingredients. Stir well. Add to well in the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. Fill 12 greased muffin cups almost full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until wooden toothpick inserted in centre of a muffin comes out clean. Let stand in pan for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This is Me

It's scary to be honest sometimes. But if I really want you to know me I know I have to open up a bit about who I really am. The only way to have and keep close friends is to be open to having close friends. I want to give you a glimpse into my life by telling you some things you couldn't know about me unless you were a very close friend.

I would live off pizza, burgers, ice cream, cheese, coffee, and cake, not in that order. This fact will never change.

I am late for nearly everything. If I'm not late, it's because I tried VERY hard not to be late. That's a big deal.

In my head, no one really likes me that much, like I'm alright, but I'm no one's favourite. This makes me try way too hard, and it's exhausting. I've also recently realized that it makes it very hard for me to admit that I don't like someone else, since I'm afraid I might somehow be pushing away someone who might actually like me. It's messed up.

I am a crazy animal lover. I cannot handle hearing about sick or abused animals. It is nearly impossible for me to kill an insect. I lose sleep over stories in the news that involve animal abuse. I've lost sleep over the recent oil spill and the effect it has on the animals and the ecosystems involved. I would probably collect puppies.

I've always been Dad's girl. I am pretty much a copy of him.

I love numbers and working with money. I budget like a mad woman.

My absolute favourite things to do on the weekend are bake, get outside to run/hike/geocache/swim/kayak, or read.

I don't like watching movies at home. I'm trying to get better at it.

I love graveyards. I know that may sound morbid, but it's true. I love them - they're so interesting. I love checking the names and the dates on tombstones. I visit new and interesting graveyards any chance I get.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Mixed Tape

You're driving in to work, or listening to the radio while you're cleaning the kitchen on Saturday morning, or you walk by a community car wash with students washing cars to raise money for their trip to basketball provincials. You hear a song. Instantly you're taken to...

Black Hole Sun, Soundgarden - released April 1994

I was 14 years old when this song was released. That's over half my life ago. *sigh*

The song instantly reminds me of my very best friend back then, Stewart. Stewie. Stew moved to my tiny little hometown with his mom and sister from Whitby, Ontario after his parents divorced. I was 13. He was 12. He didn't know anyone, and I needed a friend, so we were a perfect pair.

Stew and I were inseparable. We had a couple more friends we did stuff with too. But he was at my house almost every single day, and if we weren't together we were on the phone. We played volleyball, went to the arcade, to the beach, or just hung out listening to music and watching TV. He was a crazy good soccer player, and I remember watching the World Cup with him. I even bought a World Cup t-shirt to let people know how cool I was because I was paying attention to World Cup soccer and I knew all about it.

That summer was one of the best summers I can remember. I was so happy. It was like 3 months of my life lit up during a time I remember as being very dark otherwise. I felt comfortable and accepted. For a little while I didn't worry about how pudgy I was, or how I wasn't good enough for the group of girls I had tried being friends with, but never really belonged to. It was like it was just our little group of friends, and Stewart and I, two people who didn't belong to anyone else, who somehow belonged with each other. That summer brought new friends and new feelings and it was awesome.

I started high school that fall, which meant that Stewart and I would be going to different schools. He would stay with our friends Natalie, Justin, and Nick while I would move on to another school with our friend Diana. Naturally, Stewart and I didn't see as much of each other anymore. Diana and I had a complete falling out over something completely foolish (as 14 years old tend to do), and it began years of agony for me, being harassed by she and her friends.

Stew became a chef (my dream). Until recently, he worked at the restaurant across the street from my office. I'd see him every once in a while after work, while walking to my car. I loved those rare moments, just because I got to say hi to him. We never stayed as close after that summer, but I still feel the same way when I see him. I just wanted to run right over to him and give him a great big hug, and say "Remember when...". And we'd laugh. Then laugh some more.

He recently moved west to continue his career out there with Justin (mentioned above, also became a chef). I hope he finds everything he's ever wanted somewhere out there, he deserves every bit of it, plus.

I miss 1994, but I still have brief visits with Stewart every time I hear Chris Cornell droning on, "Black hole sun, won't you come...".

I still have a hat that was his too, packed away in a box. Maybe I'll post a picture of it later. And maybe I'll send him an email, just to say hi.

As for Diana, she apologized to me a few years ago for all the grief she put me through back then. I'm now friends with her and a lot of the friends she enlisted to help torture me back then. Life's so funny sometimes.

You know what else is funny? I just realized that today is one of those friends' birthdays. That's like Twilight Zone weird.

What's one of the songs on your mixed tape?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

10 Universal Truths

The beautiful thing about blogging is that you can say whatever you want, and people can choose to read it or not. Today I thought I should share with you, my dedicated readers, ten universal truths that I live by, or some advice, if I may. I really hope this aren't too harsh, but then again, you are under no obligation to care about them anyway.

1. There is zero point in drinking empty calories. Zero. Things like sugared soda, "juice" that isn't juice like Tang, and Kool Aid. All useless. I won't even get into why they're not only useless, but extremely counter productive. I'm sure we all know why.

2. You never put hand soap that smells like food in your bathroom. Why should your bathroom smell like a latte? Seriously.

3. You should never, EVER cut off or pull out in front of a driver that clearly has somewhere to be if you do not. Nothing is more infuriating than getting cut off by someone who plans on driving very slowly in front of you.

4. Never choose fake entertainment over real entertainment. I'm saying this, and I don't even think I'm that great with people, and would often choose to be alone over socializing. If someone asks you to go for coffee, but you're hesitating because you'll miss a favourite television show, get real. Don't be an arse, go for coffee, even if you don't want to. What if you never get the chance to go with that person ever again? Will that episode of The Bachelorette have been worth it?

5. Every single one of your favourite foods can be made into a salad, a healthier alternative. Think about it.

6. Never let meat go to waste. Something had to DIE for that, you know. Honour that animal by using it's life to do good for your life.

7. Don't buy things you know you'll never consume or use. We all have that internal dialogue with ourselves when we reach for that grocery item on the shelf, or go to the cash to pay for a shirt. You KNOW whether or not you're wasting money right at that moment, don't you? Why are you buying things wastefully? Why do we take free samples we have no intention of using?

8. Go to your library. Libraries may not be around forever, and they're such a wonderful resource. And free. Something fabulous and free.

9. Supporting local endeavours is always good. We plant a garden every year, and it is really hard work. Farmers work very hard to produce what they do, so we shouldn't take that for granted. If you get a chance, visit a local farm, or plant a small garden, and you'll see what I mean. The good news for farmers is that I'm sure they get a lot of satisfaction from doing what they do. It's pretty amazing stuff. I know there's nothing like the feeling we get from using our own produce in the kitchen. That's pretty cool.

10. Try to believe that there is more good in the world than bad. There is. Give people the benefit of the doubt when you might not normally do that. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gratitude: Day 1

I went running at lunch time today, and just as I was getting on the trail, I saw my cousin running just a few feet away from me. I yell a hello to him, thinking he'd just keep going. When he said he was going one direction, I purposefully said I was going in the opposite direction, hoping he wouldn't suggest running together. I was wrong, he suggested he run my route with me.

Please understand that I'm not always a complete bitch, and that I'm a nice person for the most part. I just like doing things alone. A lot. I was petrified that he wanted to come with me, partly because this is one of those social situations that generally make me nervous, making small talk with a cousin I haven't talked to in months, and partly because he's a great runner, a regular runner, a fast runner. I knew this would be difficult.

It was difficult. There's really no sugar coating it. I thought I may die at least 3 times in the 18 minutes it took us to run 3.25K.

It was nice. We had a really great chat and I just got a great feeling while we were out there. He's my family, and I love him. He'll always be my family and he'll always feel a bit like home to me.

I'm thankful I met him on the trail today. I'm thankful he changed his route to come with me. I'm thankful for feelings that hit you on a random day, doing a random activity, that make you feel fuzzy on the inside.

Love ya Trav. Thanks again for the run today.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Running with Yoda

Oh. My. Lanta.

My body hurts all over. We put in the majority of this year's garden this past weekend (pics to follow, once it stops raining here) and I tried a new weight loss yoga video yesterday. Ow. Yeah, yoga hurts.

I skipped my run today too. I had the WORST day at work today (the WORST), I'm sore, and it was cold and rainy. Yeah, I know, I'm an inspiration.

Had a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. She's a runner, she lives in another city, so we have to chat online if we want to have any kind of ongoing discussion these days. When I hit her up for a chat, usually to ask her questions about running she could answer in her sleep, I always feel like I'm driving her insane with boredom, so I try to avoid doing that. I'm sure most of you can guess who she is.

I chatted this friend up yesterday with a couple of training questions, as I'm now hoping to train for a half, but would like to try running a couple more 10K races in the meantime. In all actuality, this is usually when I quit something. Once I've accomplished a goal like my 10K race last weekend, I come down hard. I'm hoping to break the pattern this time.

This whole coming down hard thing is real for me and I know it. I've been waiting for it to get here actually. Tomorrow's the day I figure out whether or not I'm going to let it happen again. This is exactly why I scoffed at her when my friend said to me, "People are proud of you for running that race, you're an inspiration".

I'm going to address this concept of "inspiration" right now. I'm no inspiration. I trained for one race and I ran it. Big. Flippin'. Deal. Anyone can do that. Oprah did it - she trained for one freakin' marathon. One marathon, a single race. She's not runnin' no marathons anymore. Now the contestants on The Biggest Loser run a marathon. Ugh. I hate how these things make it seem like running a marathon just ain't no thang.

Running a marathon is a thang, a big thang. I'm not inspired by the people who run one marathon, or one race of any kind. I'm inspired by people like my friend Mouser, who has continued training and racing for a few years now, continually. That's inspiration. It takes a lot to keep doing this. It's stressful to put your body through running training. Geez, Marie just ran two half marathons in in eight days! Eight days! That's inspiration. She's the one who makes me want to put my shoes on everyday and get out there on the trail. I take her, my own little Yoda, running with me every time I go. I want to have that kind of work ethic and that kind of drive. I want it, just like she has it. I want it, long-term. I'm going to have it too.

When I finally run my marathon, that will be inspirational. That will be the result of a lot of training, a lot of frustrating days, a few tears, and a few pairs of spent running shoes.

One race does not a runner make. One dedicated runner, on the other hand...