Tuesday, November 29, 2011

meep meep

Today's a bit of a nothing day.

Work's been strange, stress wise - halfway calm, halfway crazy undercurrents. Reality of the matter is, I know what the end result is and I just don' t like it and can't change it. So unless I'm ready to start looking for something new, it just sort of is what it is.

I've been super tired lately, and that's been cutting into my kitchen time. After the amazing dinner I cooked up on Saturday when Bunny's sister was here, I didn't do much of anything the last few days. Sunday was leftovers ... and I think I did a stir fry yesterday? That sounds right.

Today we did spinach pasta again, nothing special. But it lets Bunny eat his tomato sauce, and it used up some of the box of spinach that is begining to smell funky in the fridge. Tomorrow it goes in the trash.

What I am doing tonight, though, is making some chocolate chip cookies. Just the good old Toll House recipe, though I'm messing with the baking instructions and temperatures. I find I'm not crazy about the 7 minutes @ 375* texture, and last batch I screwed some up at a lower temperature. So the first batch of cookies is in for 12 minutes at 300* to start, and we'll see how things go from there.

Last mess up I accidentally had the oven at 275*, and after 10 minutes or so I jacked it up to 350*. I'm hoping the 300* compromise works, but I do like my cookies cooked longer at a lower temp. So we'll see how I end up being the most impressed.

Update: 12 minutes at 300* isn`t enough. Timer`s on for another 2, and we`ll go from there. But they are getting to have a bit of a properly firm top - just too unset at the moment.
15 minutes seems to do it, although with the lower temp they don`t get as golden on top ... I`m ok with that though.

I'm also going to get a couple more stitches into my current cross-stitch project ... I`m so close to done it`s crazy. Part of me wants to cop out and not go back and do the couching or backstitching, as this was just a project intended to get my mistakes out of the way and get me back into it. It`s a super cute image of a dog, that`s eventually going to go on a pillow for our dog. I`m also really interested in the next one I have - a beautiful package with this flowers on a river with a bridge to do next that I`m super excited about.

The next one also has proper aida cloth ... part of what I`m so annoyed with on this cross stitch it`s it`s just stretched cotton, and it`s not designed to be stitched the same way. It`s harder to gauge stitches on, particularly for someone with poor vision (aka me). And I really don`t think it`s going to work easily for backstitching. Ugh.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

bam

Name changing.

I've always intended to do it. I still plan to do it. I am very happy with my decision to do it. But but but.

I hate that after I marry Bunny and change my name, there's a very expensive piece of paper that I worked very hard and represents a lot of blood, sweat and tears sitting in my mother's living room. With the wrong name.

style spotlight: the terra cotta jacket

The first piece that I want to focus my style spotlight on is a relatively new piece. I think I picked it up mid-September or so, at the Cookstown Outlet with my mom. We had wandered in there for no particular reason, just a fun shopping outing since Bunny and I were in town.

My mom is a bit of a Danier Leather-aholic. She loves everything they sell, pretty much. Over the years she has brought home numerous purses, clutches, wallets, a few jackets, hats and a skirt from this store. More than one of mom's old Danier items currently makes its home in my closet, actually. So when we are in Cookstown, we always stop in. This time, my mom wanted to look at a red snakeskin type purse.

I got bored and started trying on jackets. (Mistake number one.) I tried on a couple of interesting ones, and then I tried on an ivory jacket that I liked the cut of, but not the colour. The same jacket came in bright orange, but I wasn't too much of a fan. I was, though, surprised how much I liked orange on me. At this point, a saleslady came by and had another jacket she thought I would like, so I let her pull me over the a rack near the back of the store and push another orange jacket on me. (Mistake number two.)

Well, uh, wow. This jacket was amazing. It fit like it was made for me, it had a great cut, and was properly seamed for the more busty among us. As soon as I tried this jacket it, I knew it was coming home with me. It was just too perfect. The hemlime was great, hitting just at the hips, but dipping low in front to give some shape. There's beautiful stitching detail along the shoulders, just enough to give some interest. Zip up slit pockets that aren't too bulky. The cuffs are great, with little zippers that can be worn folded up into a proper cuff, or zipped up and long, where they'll keep my handsies a little warmer. The collar that has just a little bit of height, but not too much. And oh, the lining.

I have a soft spot for pieces of clothing with great lining. This has beautiful orange lining in the sleeves and pockets, and the back lining is just gorgeous. This lovely oatmeal colour with a gorgeous circular, sun-type design on the inside.
This coat makes me feel fantastic every time I put it on. I wear it even when it's a little bit too chilly for just a leather jacket, because I feel that beautiful in it.
Top Three Details:
  1. The colour! I never thought I was an orange person, but I love the statement that's made with the terra cotta. Having such a colourful coat instantly brightens up the outfit.
  2. The fit. It's not really a detail, but how do you not feel amazing in a beautiful jacket that fits like it was made for you?
  3. The cuffs. I like that they are convertable (rolled back or fully extended), and I love how just rolling or unrolling the cuffs changes the whole outfit. Plus, I notice the cuffs everytime I wear it.
Honourable Mention:
  • The lining. It's not top three, only because no one but me ever sees it. But I love having this little secret, perfect part of my jacket
I tried to find a link on the Danier website, but I can't quite find it. (Maybe it's last season and sold out now?) One day, pictures will come.

style spotlight: an introduction

My wardrobe and personal style has been a bit of a work in progress lately.

I hate all the clothes I bought for my old (retail) job. Almost every itme is boring and blah and not terribly flattering. On top of that, I've lost a fair bit of weight lately, so most things that used to fit properly (particularly pants and dresses, not as much of an issue with shirts) just really don't fit. Like this great dress I bought at Smart Set last spring, but now looks like a giant sack on me. Most of the things that I do like, or that do fit me, are slowly getting to be a little bit raggedy and sloppy and are just not making me happy.

My closet needs a pretty major overhaul. I need to purge old clothes, get new, and make sure that each piece I collect fits, is at least somewhat weather versatile, and is something that I feel amazing in.

See you in the next post!

That in mind, I'm going to start a new little feature here (for all that nobody reads this thing ... but it's not like I give out the link often) and explore some of the clothing items I have that I do love, or I used to love, and what's so great about them. I can only imagine that knowing what I currently own and love will make it easier to figure out what I look for in "great" clothes. I need to pin down my own personal style before blowing more money on it, really.

"Style Spotlight" is the new tag for when I'm exploring what I love about a particular piece of clothing that I love and feel fantastic in. Or inspiration pieces, or outfits other people where that I want to rock so hard that I need to go out and buy the pieces. You, uh, also might see some non-clothing items show up here, like some of my eyeshadow palettes that I love and that are part of my style.

Basically I want to explore what I love about fashion a little more. What sort of details and styles make my heart sing. What clothes do I want to put on every single day. Another thing that I'll work on soon, if I keep up with this, is finding a way to post pictures up here, so there's some visual refereence

scheduling fail

So, coming into this weekend, Bunny and I had some idea that we were double booked. I have a bridal appointment, he invited his sister to dinner, and he also made plans to go out with a group of his friends that I adore and we don't get to see often enough.

A few days ago, I asked him to double check some dates because I was getting a little confused ... and what do you know, his sister and his friends are both supposed to be happening the same night. So, I was bummed, but we decided that we can see friends any time, but his sister has never been over for dinner.

Last night, Bunny gets a text from one of his friends. "Guess who just showed up wearing a helmet". What, wait. That makes no sense. So Bunny asks a few questions, conversation ensues and all of a sudden I hear a very loud "FUCK".

We got the date wrong. :(

dinner!

Today was crazy busy and awesome and way more productive than I thought it would be.

After I got back from trying on dresses (and are there ever a million and one stories there for you!), Lauren and I spent a couple hours chilling at my place before she made her way down to Union. As soon as she left, busy time started with me, as Bunny's sister and her fiance came over for dinner.

What a magnificient dinner it was. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, yorkshire pudding and the broccoli and cauliflower gratin that popped up on The Kitchn a little while back. We finished things off with some chocolate and orange cupcakes I'd made a few weeks back and Bunny and I had popped in the freezer.

Can we talk about how good that gratin was? Bunny's sister went crazy over it and I had to print out the recipe for it. Even Bunny said he wants me to make it again, and he doesn't even like cauliflower. I did a few variations, and I would change a few more things when making it again, but all in all it was good.

Notes for next time:
I found there was too much mornay in the dish - the vegetables didn't need to be smothered quite so much. Next time I'll go for a much lighter coating. Probably as well I'll change to red onions, and maybe see if I can saute some mushrooms in with them. Also I think I'd like a richer butter in the topping.
Surprisingly, I would have liked bigger florets of broccoli and cauliflower than what I did there.

What I think is great about the dish is that even with me doing all sorts of details, the vegetable dish ended up being the star of the show. I could see doing a much simpler dinner with that. It's so much like mac and cheese, that you could almost have it on it's own as a meal.

I think it would pair amazingly, though, with a really lovely roasted chicken breast (or even cheat and buy a rotisserie one at the grocery store, really). Just the two things would stand up as a meal very nicely. With the gooey, creamy-ness of the mornay coating everything, it was really a very rich and filling dish. The sauce was substantial, which made all the difference in the world.

Success!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

easy pasta with spinach

Last night, I was not really in touch with my hunger. I needed to eat, but didn't entirely feel like it. Unfortunately, when I don't feel like eating I don't feel like cooking. So, what's a girl to make when she has herself and a fiance to feed and not a lot of energy to do it with?

Easy Spinach & Parmesan Pasta. It's practically cheating.

Ingredients (approximate amounts based on a Bunny-and-Sheryl sized serving, no leftovers)
  • Pasta - two handfuls or so of penne or rotini
  • Big pot of salted (oceany) water
  • Three handfuls baby spinach
  • About a half cup of parmesan cheese
Steps:
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add more salt than you think you should.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions (usually about 7 - 9 minutes for penne or rotini)
  3. Put a big heaping handful of spinach in a mixing bowl - you should probably think you have too much spinach. Then forget about it for now.
  4. When the pasta's done, drain it and pour the pasta over the spinach. Cover with some sort of lid (a plate, the lid from your stockpot) and let rest for two or three minutes. This allows time for the heat of the pasta and the steam trapped by the lid to wilt the spinach.
  5. Remove the lid, stir the pasta until spinach is evenly distributed throughout
  6. Plate your pasta
  7. Grate parmesan overtop to taste
I spent maybe 5 minutes total in the kitchen, and it was some seriously good eats. I was satisfied, and I loved that it was simple.

Now I'm off to a lunch out and my first bridal apparel appointment, and home to a big cooking project.

Friday, November 25, 2011

the beast

Tomorrow at 3, I have an appointment with one of my bestest friends in the world to go try on wedding dresses.

Umm, have I mentioned that I'm strangely terrified. I didn't expect to be. Well, a little, because I remember how when the girls tried to get me into a dress back in August how I was like "um, how about no" (I wasn't engaged at that point, though).

I have some seriously complicated thoughts and feeling about the whole idea of a Wedding Dress. It's something I want to explore a little more in detail (maybe hopefully on another blog entirely if life works out the way I really want it to). I mean, I know there are dialogues upon dialogues of it in my diary ... but the only person other than me with access to that is Bunny, who swears he doesn't read it. (Can we mention I'm trusting? I write dirty dreams in that thing and leave it in the middle of the living room. Dangerous.)

Tomorrow, though, I'm just aiming to tackle the Beast and get over the fear of putting a wedding dress on. Try on a few things, see what styles I like on my body and figure out a plan of attack from there.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

exhausted

You don't get much of a post today, because today is not a productive day.

Today is a day where cuddle-time turned into naptime. And naptime lasts 3 hours after work.

I had a lot I wanted to get done today, but apparently, this evening wasn't happening. At least I didn't have anything I *needed* to get done.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

butternut squash

So my kitchen pretty much rocks today.

It's soup day here (because it is also grocery day, and soup is easy to whip up after groceries). Last night, after my failed macaroni and cheese, I did all the prep work for my soup. I stood in the kitchen, trying to peer over the stairs into the living room and watch Two Broke Girls at the same time, and chopped my way through a medium butternut squash, fresh from a friend's garden. Then I worked my way through a handful of carrots and celery and the dreaded onion. Put them in some tupperwares, back in the fridge, and I have all my prep for the day done. I love it.

Today, coming home from the grocery store, I simply popped a tray of squash in the oven until it started to smell gorgeous, put a squirt of olive oil in the bottom of my dutch oven and began caramelizing some onions. Then in go the carrots & celery, until things start to smell good (I told you, no recipes, just what feels right!) and I popped the squash from the cookie sheet into the dutch oven, covered with broth and let it simmer until I decided it was done.

That was supposed to be it, really. Nothing fancy, just soup.

But then there were these beautiful mushrooms at Freshco. And I had a pepper that really needed using in the fridge, and lord do I love me some stuffed mushrooms. (They were glorious. Stuffed mushrooms is one of my top "impressing people" recipes, but they're just as easy to do for no reason.) At the point that the mushrooms were in the oven, I probably should have stopped.

You can't have soup without bread, though. And as a general rule, the only bread Bunny and I keep in the house is bagels. (He likes them in the morning, and I am anti-sandwich as a general rule, although I have had some fantastic ones, so we don't keep bread. I keep us in leftover lunches all week.) Bagels should not be dipped in ridiculously good butternut squash soup. They just shouldn't.

So I made tarragon-garlic biscuits, as a variation of the good old Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits. Because I hadn't already done enough.

They were delicious.

Monday, November 21, 2011

macaroni fail

I don't generally use recipes in my cooking.

Oh, I bake with recipes, and I'm known to use a recipe as a starting point with cooking (in fact, I love using recipes as starting points .... I just don't actually follow them), or for inspiration. But I'm not the most recipe friendly.

Most of my go to meals are rather more a collection of flavours and starting points. For example, quiche is made with a well paired cheese and other filling, layered in a pie shell till full. Beat some eggs with some milk or cream (depending on how fattening you feel like being) and pour over, until you think you haven't got quite enough. That's essentially how I make quiche - with a general outline but no real recipe.

Sometimes, this does not work out as intended. As evidenced by the sham of mac and cheese I made tonight. It wasn't bad, by any means. It was better than KD, or what I've been served at some pretty terrible diners.

What it wasn't, though, was my mac and cheese. It wasn't creamy and decadent, feeling like a gooey, chewy yumminess in my mouth. I messed up a few places. First, I don't actually use macaroni in my mac and cheese - I use miniature shells; this time, though I was out, and so macaroni it was. Usually, I also make a 1.5 quart container of our favourite oozy goodness. But today, I made a 2 quart container. Usually, I use fresh grated cheddar. Today, I had a bag of pre-grated cheddar in the freezer and I was lazy.

At the end of the day, what came out of the oven was not ooey gooey delicious. It was more ... barely coated noodles. Not super dry, but barely cheesey.

A solid C. Not so happy.

Now? I'm going to think about turning the zucchini in my fridge into muffins, and then go snuggle with my Bunny.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the perfect latte

I have a deep seated love for hot caffeinated drinks. It started when I was two, at my very British Nanny's (great-grandmother's) house, with tea and cookies after dinner. Now, I'm pretty sure that I what I was drinking was closer to slightly warm, sugared milk than actual tea at the time, but in my head I started drinking tea at two.

Growing up, and even through university, I would drink tea by the potful. Several pots a day. In high school I worked at a Tim Horton's (the Canadian nation coffee shop, for anyone not familiar), and I would walk around smelling like coffee all the time. It kind of made me sick - I wouldn't dream of drinking the stuff.

In university though, began the weekly coffee dates to catch up with friends at the on campus Starbucks. The moments of realization where the alarm bells go off in you head saying caffeinate, caffeinate (image that being like the Daleks: "exterminate, exterminate") and thinking about how much quicker it is to shoot back an espresso than to drink that entire tea (and that way, I wouldn't have to sneak out for a bathroom break mid-lecture).

Since then, my love of coffee has grown to the point that it is my go-to caffeinated beverage. A day is not a day unless there is a good cup of coffee in it. I have tried most coffee making contraptions, from the boring old coffee maker, to the stovetop espresso machine, the french press, to the garage sale Krups espresso machine Bunny brought home this summer. (He may have gotten in trouble for that - we do not have much counter space and I'm protective of it - but has definitely been forgiven.)

Saturday and Sunday morning coffees are currently some of my favourite moments of my week. Waking up, grinding the beans, steaming a half cup or so of milk, tamping the beans and making a double espresso. A hint of sugar (because we know my sweet tooth), and then pour the espresso and steamy, foamy milk into a mug and go snuggle with it on the couch.

This isn't one of those commercial lattes, where the foam is tacky and the espresso to milk/foam ration is sadly low. No, this is half a mug of espresso matched with equal parts milk and foam. Strong, coffee taste. None of that watered down shit.

I love how each time I steam milk it gets more towards the microfoam I love, a little bit better every time. I love that first sip in the morning, as the caffeine flows into my mouth and warms me all over.

Perfection.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

the perfect coat

In our wanders in Kensington, Bunny and I went to quite a few vintage clothing stores. I've been really wanting to use thrift and vintage stores for a bigger portion of my wardrobe. I have had some decent thrift store finds in the past, but I don't know that I've ever found something that I'd truly call vintage, or that I think is out-of-this-world special. Mostly I just use thrift stores when I'm between sizes (and I do need to get a couple of between sizes pairs of jeans, come to think of it).

However, I have these obsessions with boots and coats. When I find a perfect pair of boots, or a perfect coat, I have no ability to say no. If I try it on and I love it, there is no question. It comes home with me. I hate though when I'm just running around the city and I see my coat or my boots on other people. And my heart does a little jump for joy when I put a perfect coat on.

It should also be said that I by no means needed a new coat. I mean, I'm all coat-ed out. See the following:
  • Costco camel-coloured coat that I should ditch but I wore the first night Bunny and I stayed up all night and has sentimental value. (maybe I'll toss it when I donate the pile of clothes upstairs to goodwill. I really should)
  • The black wool coat (you know, the same wool coat that everyone has the past few years? One of those) that's missing buttons and is too big for me this year (yay?)
  • Blue and white plaid wool coat with the thinsulate lining that I got last year because it was $40 on boxing day sales and it was warmer than the black wool
  • The monster snow coat that should never been seen outside of a blizzard
  • My (multiple) Danier jackets
    • Black suede - this one fits like it was made for me, is super flattering ... and used to be my mom's
    • Red leather - this one fits like it was made for someone half a foot taller than me, isn't especially flattering but everyone loves on me, and is a blazer so tends to get cold (in the chest/neck area) ... and used to be my mom's
    • Orange leather - I lovelovelove this coat. I put it on and couldn't leave the store and accidentally spent $200 on earlier this year. But I feel like a million bucks every time I put it on, and Bunny loves is
Can you see why I don't need any more coats? Except, I kind of bought one.

It's perfect though. It's this gorgeous super dark hunter green (Bunny can only see the green in the sunlight, it's so dark) with a double row of brass buttons and a few little details on the wrist. This coat gave me that instant reaction, again.

It goes to just past my knees, so will be nice and warn for the winter season. It's 1960's vintage and is super super perfect. What's amazing is that as much as it's from the 60's, it's a very classic styled coat, so it doesn't look dated at all. It's heavy wool, and has a good lining. Super super warm. The sleeves are maybe a half inch short, but I can live with that. I mean, I wear gloves.

This is the coat that I've been waiting for. A warm, stylish winter coat. Something dressy enough that I could wear it to an event, if I had one. Something that will keep my knees warm when I wear skirts. Something that gives me more coverage than my other (other! because I'm a freak and have way Too Many Coats) wool coats, without going into parka territory.

Because let's be honest: this girl lives in Canada. Canadian winters are not "mild" even on a good year. We damn freeze here, and I don't freeze well. I mean, I have heat on and am wrapped in two blankets right now. Not so good with the cold. There's a reason everyone I know is into the Canada Goose and North Face winter coats. Not particularly stylin' (though they aren't ugly ... but there's only so nice a thick puffy coat will ever be stylish), but practical and warm.

I really don't know how I made it through Barrie winters as a child. Hip deep snow wading? Nuts.

But this coat? This is a coat I'm excited to wear this winter. Stoked.

big mess of mess

Today was good, other than the fact that I can't get the damn work situation off of my mind.

Bunny and I had a bit of a day out in the city. Luckily the weather was nice, because we spent the majority of the day out of doors, walking around Kensington Market. We picked up a couple of cheeses from Global Cheese - a nice stinky blue for him, and a creamy brie for me. So we'll be enjoying those over the weekend.

I'm surprised I don't spend more of my shopping time in Kensington, actually, because it's pretty perfect. I love the mix of what you find there. Great thrift and vintage stores, little boutiques, weird jack of all trade places (Blue Banana or whatever its called? That place is crazy nuts!), stores that are very new agey and I think I should drag my mom to (that's her thing), skateboard shops, the works. And then, if you get bored or aren't finding the deals you want, hop over a couple of streets to Chinatown.

Then, of course, there's the FOOD. Kensington is full of food. Coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries, cheese shops, chocolate shops, independent grocers with beautiful produce, fishmongers. Actually, the first time Bunny ever took me out anywhere it was to Kensington where we had the worst Pad Thai I've ever had, and I told him how freaking awesome Jose Saramago's Blindness was. (And I'd have that Pad Thai again for the nostalgia factor.) Within a couple of blocks there is Thai, Indian, Mexican, vegan - you can find almost anything food-wise in Kensington. Including, apparently a shop dedicated to grilled cheese. (Next time!!!!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

busy busy week

I didn't intend for this week to be so quiet here. The other side of that is that I didn't expect this week to be so busy for me.

I'm at the point of hitting a crossroads with work right now. I think just in a protecting myself kind of way, there isn't much I can or will say here specifics wise, or job wise. Frustration wise, it sucks when I have been coming home and bawling my eyes out in a way that I haven't done in years about work.

On the plus side, Bunny and I went to see the venue, and it was perfect. More on that later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the art of a recipe

Have you ever seen Michael Smith's "Chef at Home"? It pretty much describes the basic philosophy of how I cook.

I'm not crazy about recipes. Oh, I mean I use them for baking, and when I'm wanting to start a new dish. When I find a perfect recipe, I also do not argue and simply accept that trying to tinker would not do anything helpful to it.

Here's the thing though. I don't really follow the recipes. I follow the guidelines within the recipes. But I'm not afraid to change them, just on the fly or as a deliberate experiment. If a recipe calls for a teaspoon of vanilla, you had better bet I use a tablespoon. A cookie dough calls for cinnamon? I'm also probably going to add some nutmeg and cardamom. Barley risotto calls for cauliflower and I don't have any and Bunny really hates it? I decide that I'd love some sauted onion and pepper barley risotto.

So that's what I made today.

I have to say, I have no clue why I haven't tried to make a risotto sooner. (It might have been the fact that I was kinda crying and begging Bunny to come give me a backrub as I continued to stir for over half an hour - the bad back part is not so friendly on my kitchen time.) Because this was just delicious. It means that I need need need to get my hands on some arborio rice and beautiful mushrooms next week so I can make a traditional risotto soon.

I also roasted some chicken thighs, at Bunny's request. (Well, really puppy eyes and exclamations that risotto in itself is not a meal.) I barely touched the chicken. This risotto was ridiculous good and I have never been so happy with myself for giving something new a try.

Monday, November 14, 2011

and the rain rain rain came down down down

So it's been a bit of a wash of a day, but that's ok.

Bunny tried to quit smoking this weekend, and has since decided that he needs a doctor's advice and better timing. The last time he successfully quit was well planned, and the not-quite-complete but very successful at cutting back smoking attempt in August had planning behind it. So we're looking at Christmas now - which I am totally cool with. I want him to quit, but I also want him to not go crazy. I think I may run away for a few days while he quits because I've had my fill of "first day of no smoking" for the year.

As for me? I woke up around 3am feeling pretty shitty, came down for some water, and spent most of the morning in the bathroom unable to pull myself away from the toilet. At about 6am I finally called it a sick day and sent an email to my boss. If I can't get away from the toilet for twenty minutes, I definitely can't make in to the office.

After a very rough morning, I eventually woke up around 12:30, hugging a (thankfully empty) lime green mixing bowl, and proceeded to have my third shower since 3am. (Showering: what I do when I'm sick. Seriously, if I am sick I am likely to spend at least half my day in the shower.) An hour later, I encountered one of the most delightful aspects of Bunny being in school.

He comes home early. Mondays are short days for him, and he was home by 1:30-2, which was very nice. Because after that I had Lipton Chicken Soup with a croissant to dip in the broth, no effort on my part.

Today has been spent entirely half passed out on the couch between increasingly infrequent bathroom trips. Drinking tea and eating Arrowroot digestive biscuits, and the occasional Five Alive.

Not the best of days, but a decent sick day. (But man, do I ever feel guilty taking a sick day, even when I am legitimately sick. No sense of modesty, over developed guilt, that's me!)

Really for the most part I've been slowly working away on my cross stitch project. It's not perfect, but I enjoy it, and it's the first time in years I have picked up a cross stitch. I have a handful more stitches to go before I can get started on the backstitching and couching, and eventually turn it into a pillow for our puppy. (It's a picture of a dog - it's too cute to make it a dog pillow!)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

holy guacamole

You know how yesterday I complained that I screwed up everything I made?

What I forget, is that sometimes perfection doesn't matter. The comment I received on my lumpy gravy? "Lumps mean that you know it wasn't from a packet". And really, there were only tiny lumps and it will wasn't like I had flour chunks.

The overcooked meat? Bunny and I like our meat rare to medium rare - and I always aim to cook rare and let it rise to medium as it rests. My idea of overcooked is just perfect for a lot of people. (Except you crazies who like your beef well done. What the heck? Even when I was a vegetarian I had an issue with that!)

The stiff, lumpy potatoes? Even bad mashed potatoes are still amazing. And they'll reheat well when I make shepherd's pie later this week.

The yorkshires that stuck to the pan and had all the bottoms rip off? They were still lovely taste and texture wise, they just didn't have bottom crusts.

And oh the beets. I'm having a giant love affair with beets lately. They may be my current favourite root vegetable.

The guacomole I made (that oxidized a little)? The biggest hit ever. (In case you're wondering - it's a slight variation on Michael Smith's corn guacamole, and it's my favourite. I love how he creates recipes - many of my recipes started as his). And the fried pita wedges to eat the guac on? Those were HUGE hits.

I'd also be lying if I said I'm not crazy about my stuffed mushrooms because those were ridiculous good.


Today there's some more excitement in the kitchen, although a calm type of excitement.

I started my morning with two amazing lattes courtesy of the garage sale espresso machine (it may in fact be our most used appliance). Then Bunny made eggs and peameal and toast.

Now, I have to be honest, I am not a breakfast person. I have a very sensitive stomach, and I spend most of my morning feeling like I'm about to vomit - and eating in the first few hours I'm awake is a good way to guarantee that I will. The way my belly feels in the morning means that I am more particular than usual about what I eat. Can't handle runny egg yolks, for example.

And try though he might, Bunny is as impatient as I am about some things, and seems incapable of letting my eggs cook long enough to have a solid yolk. We've made a future agreement: egg whites only for my breakfast. It's how my mom used to do it because I'm just so damn particular. (Not my best trait).

Damn, though, that bacon was good.

The rest of the day is a low key excitement in the kitchen. I'm making cinnamon buns the lazy way - the bread machine is taking care of the dough right now.

After I toss them in the oven, Bun will be heading in there to grind up chicken and make dog food. (Seriously, this man feeds our dog fresh, home made food following the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet. Can you imagine how well our babies will eat one day?) When he's done that, we'll handle the last thing together.

Ravioli.

Last weekend's fresh pasta was such a success that I've gone around all week thinking about this. It was amazing in a way I can't even explain. The noodles had this lovely meaty texture, and the feeling of kneading the dough myself was just so much fun.

This week Bunny and I are going to run with it, and make either ravioli or tortellini. Some stuffed with parmesan and butternut squash, some stuffed with ricotta and spinach to freeze. I am so excited it is crazy over this project.

on small weddings

I am having a small wedding.

Before I say anything else I would like to note:
  • A small wedding was my first choice
  • This was not a budget based decision
  • By small I don't mean 50, 60, 80 or even 100 people (all numbers I have heard described as "small")
  • Bunny and I are inviting less than 30 people
So, now that I've made my sweeping statements, lets talk.

What does having a small wedding mean to me? It means that I am having only our very closest friends (the people who we would consider rescheduling the date to have them there) and immediate family (or surrogates thereof). It means that I will get to spend quality time with each of my guests, as opposed to spending my night going from guest to guest and table to table and only getting to spend 5 or 10 minutes with each person. It is important to me that I get to connect with the people I invite to be with me in a more special way.

The idea of a large wedding, even the sort of 50-80 person wedding that most people think of as small but I consider large, does not seem particularly fun to me. It doesn't feel particularly genuine to me. With the idea of a bigger wedding, in my head it just doesn't make sense to expend all sorts of effort and money to invite them to a party but not be able to spend quality time with most of my guests. That's really what this comes down to. I would rather really get to connect and enjoy my time with a smaller number of people than get a blur of a million faces but not actually have the time to catch up and take my time and enjoy. I want something so much more relaxed than what I feel like a big wedding would be.

The guest list was decided upon before Bunny and I even got engaged, and has not been influenced by a budget. Is it a guest list we can afford? Absolutely. Was it chosen based on us feeling comfortable paying for it? Not in the slightest. We have not finalized our budget yet - not the total number, nor the nitty details of how it breaks down. We know roughly what we will be paying for venues & food & alcohol with the meal, but not a total, and we haven't dealt with the details like invitations and favours and all that.

However, we have a rough range in our head. It's a couple thousand dollars either way, and all I will say is that the number is lower than 10,000. I have friends in the area with very similar budgets who are throwing weddings three and four times the size of mine. Going small has allowed me to go a little more all out on certain things - like food. The cost of dinner (including wine parents) that Bunny and I are paying is similar to what a friend is paying for a dinner for 80. Thing is, that's just not my style. Because we have a smaller guest list we are able to splurge a little more and have a meal at a high class restaurant and be personally taken care of by a 5 star chef.

Is that the reason why we chose to have a small wedding? No. But having a small wedding has allowed us to do this, which we are happy to. If we couldn't do the fancy dinner we would be ok with that - but it is a nice bonus that the guest list we want has allowed us to have it.

One thing a lot of our friends can't wrap their heads around is the lack of extended family at our wedding. We are inviting parents, siblings, Bunny's niece and a cousin of mine who did a very big favour for me that allowed me to attend university. Because Bunny's family is much bigger than mine, we are also inviting my mother's two best friends  - who are somewhat surrogate parents to me. They are who I consider my mom's partners to be - she has had 1 boyfriend (who I never met) in the 13 years since she has been divorced - and I would like to honour the people who have stepped in to take over pseudo-parental roles, and also give my mom some people who are there just for her. (Plus, it helps balance an otherwise unbalanced guest list).

We are not having our grandparents, aunts and uncles, or most cousins. These are the people who, for our friends, make up the bulk of their wedding guest lists. For Bunny and I, it doesn't make sense. He sees his extended family at a picnic in the summer, and at a New Years Brunch (on his mom's side), and while he sees more of his father's (smaller) side of the family, they are not close. They don't just pick up the phone and say "hey what's up". He genuinely isn't concerned about whether he has them there.

As for my family? Well, I see my mom's side (grandma, aunt & the cousin we are inviting) once a year for two days at Christmas. My grandma and aunt are both schizophrenic, and would require I assign a designated "babysitter" to take care of them for the wedding. What it comes down to, though, is just that we are not close. Our lives don't connect, we don't talk nor really spend significant amount of time together.

The paternal side of my family is an even messier story. My parents' divorce essentially ripped apart every single relationship I had ever had there, back when I was thirteen. Since then, I have seen my grandparents and most of my aunts, uncles and cousins less than a dozen times. Every conversation I have had with my Nanna since then has ended with her going out of her way to make me feel like a bad person. She refuses to respect the fact that I am an adult capable of making my own decisions, and thinks I am a terrible person for asserting my right to have people who have proven themselves to be a real, physical danger to me out of my life.

Not exactly people you want celebrating the biggest day of your life with you.

The people we want to celebrate are the closest people in our lives. The people who aer there for us through the difficult moments, and who love us no matter what. They are the people who put smiles on our faces when we hear their names, who we love the most.

Are we splurging on our small wedding? Yes. But that's ok. We are having the wedding we want.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

disappointing day in the kitchen

How is it that when the only people I am feeding are Bunny and myself, I can always turn out perfect everything, and as soon as we have a guest over it all goes to shit?

I overcooked the roast (just by 5* or so, not the end of the world), the gravy had lumps, I was impatient with the potatoes and the yorkshires stuck to the muffin tin.

For me to have one of those problems is unusual.  All three, unheard of. It's always when I'm trying to impress people, of course.

I am though looking forward to the guacamole in the fridge, and the pita chips I'm going to throw in the deep fryer to go with them.

I was also very happy with my stuffed mushrooms. That has to count for something, right?

Friday, November 11, 2011

the dining experience: cafe crepe

There's this one restaurant in Toronto that is a bit of a go-to spot for me. Particularly when I'm out with Emma. (She introduced me to it, and we both adore it).

So we've not been doing a lot of social stuff together outside of work lately. Partly because we are bad influences on each others spending and eating habits (we both have big financial goals that give us very tight budgets and not much spending money and are both watching what we eat for very different reasons) and partly because I've been a really big homebody lately since Bunny's big career change. It has a weird affect on our friendship when that happens, because we are the "pick up where we left off" type people, but we are also (because of work circumstances) seeing each other every day (which is a really good thing).

But when someone you've been friends with since 3rd grade says they miss being your friend, you listen. So we're going to do stuff more out and about. Going to force me to be more social - and sometimes I need that. (And I know it!)

So last night, we went to Cafe Crepe. Now, I've been craving crepes for about a month now, and this place does them very well at a very reasonable price. Much higher quality and a better experience than the normal mall-type crepe places that are popping up everywhere lately, and it's great because it feels so much fancier. The staff seats customers, and there are servers, which makes the whole experience feel a little more upscale.

So we started just having savory "dinner" crepes. Emma, I think, had a ham & swiss cheese crepe, and I did the same but with the addition of mushrooms. (I needed some sort of vegetable in my meal. I like them a lot and I still don't eat enough.) I would have preferred spinach, but Emma was very adamant in reminding me that I wasn't impressed with the spinach last time I was there. I also had a really lovely green apple Italian soda. I love how you get the carbonation, the customized flavours, and it feels terrible for me than a normal pop. Plus, not too many places carry them so I tend to be inclined to indulge when I see them.

As far as the savory crepe went, I think I'd give it a B -. Not my favourite, but I enjoyed it. So the crepes come out, and they do triangles there, rather than wraps, which I like. The folded crepe just feels more authentic to me, whether it is or not. I kinda cheated, starting at the corner where all the best, gooey-est bits are ... but I know I never finish what I order and I wasn't leaving that bit untouched.

As far as the crepe itself, I found it overly sweet. There was enough sugar in the batter that things tasted a little bit off having that with savory fillings, but I was able to ignore it. I love how they do a super thinly sliced ham, just spread over the in layers. The first time I ordered it I expected it to be chunky and was rather shocked how much I enjoyed the thin slices. It works so well. The ham is cut thin enough to feel as if it melts in your mouth, but just barely thick enough to have texture. Then there's the lovely, gooey swiss cheese sprinkled on top of that, melting in between every layer. Actually, I might have reduced the cheese amount just a touch.

Really, the issue that pulls the crepe from being a strong B is the mushrooms. I wish that Crepe Cafe treated their vegetables better. I love me a veggie in my crepe. I didn't really feel like I had a veggie in my crepe, which kinda pissed me off because I paid an extra $1.25 for the shrooms. It was maybe a dozen tiny slices of mushrooms scattered throughout.

What I would have done had I made them? First off, I would have loaded up the crepe with a pile of mushrooms. There should have been as much mushroom as ham in every bite. I also would have done something with the mushrooms - sauted them up a little bit, seasoned them, instead of just tossing them on top.

The thing is, I didn't go to Crepe Cafe for the dinner crepe. I went for the dessert crepe.

It's the simplest thing ever. I had the lemon crepe. Lemon juice and sugar on a crepe. You wouldn't think it would be much of anything special, but I swear this crepe is heaven. The way each bite is the perfect pillow of thin, carby, crepe-y goodness with this lovely tart lemon flavour and just enough sugar to mellow out the acid. This crepe is one of the most delicious things I have ever consumed. It's so simple and yet everything just melds together into the perfect mouthfuls over delight.

It's not my favourite restaurant by any stretch of the imagination. (I mean, I'm not having my wedding there and I didn't get engaged there). But it is the single best crepe place I have ever eaten at, and I am constantly wanting to go back.

Price wise it's pretty perfect, too. A twenty was dinner, dessert, my drink and tip. More expensive than other crepe places, but not by much, and part of what you're paying for is the experience.

so many things, so little time

There are about half a dozen posts I have halfway up in my head right now. A short introduction:
  • the how I should grow up and go to the doctor post
    • this is also known as the how I'm an old lady pose
  • the follow up on how much it sucks not having a family doctor and having to take all my concerns to the clinic
  • the budget/finance goals post
  • the how debt makes me feel post
  • there's are about 4 posts of recipes I want to make (thus need to make)
  • there's the new purse post
  • the why I don't buy junk food post
  • the what it's like supporting Bunny being back in school post
  • the life list post
  • the post about how a small guest list can still be a perfect guestlist
  • there's the needlework post(s)
  • the I want to learn pottery post
  • the new clothing size post
  • the why I prefer dresses to both skirts and pants post
  • the wedding footwear post
  • the diary entry from last night post
  • the waiting to buy new clothes (and reasoning) post
  • and the bra store post
This post is clearly none of those.

I didn't really ever intend for this to be a food blog. I don't particularly feel like I am currently now, or will ever really be a food blogger - although apparently I'm wrong. Because see, at the end of the day food is pretty much my world. (Which is frustrating as will be eventually addressed in the "I'm a little old lady at 26" post).

Not to say that I'm constantly eating or stuffing my face. Not to say that I have a particularly unhealthy diet, though there are certain gaping flaws that I know I have to address and repair. Not to say either that I have an unhealthy relationship with food, although historically that is true. (There may have been a slight flirtation with an eating disorder in my late teens, but nothing that I haven't dealt with).

When I say food is my world, I don't mean it in a negative way - although I sometimes wonder if there is a "positive" way to say that. I come home from work and one of the first things I do is get in the kitchen. Make dinner. Maybe bake something.

I don't go out to dinner as often as I used to, but because the budget is tight every restaurant choice is based on maximum enjoyment - so I never go out and have crap.

I don't buy junk at the grocery store because if I am going to have half a tray of cinnamon rolls, I'd much prefer that they be home made cinnamon rolls. (True story.) I'd rather not have preservatives and additives and all sorts of crap. Not everything needs to be made with high fructose corn syrup and have a million preservatives.

Food is my world in that I genuinely enjoy making a roast and gravy and smashed potatos, because I like making the cookies and thinking about the flavours as much fun as eating them. It's my life in that it is one of the most core, basic ways I show Bunny how much I love him. Cooking and baking are activities that feed my soul.

Do I get super frustrated when something doesn't go right? Sure. But I always get super frustrated. I'm a little high stress. (And that's ok! Really!)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So, food is clearly very important to me. But this is not Smitten Kitchen (amazing blog though that is - she deserves a lot of love). So this is never going to be an all-out food blog. But, maybe I have to be a little bit more ok with the role food plays in my life coming out on the blog. Maybe it is very authentically me have half my posts of the week be about food.

I just need to own it. So that's what I'm going to do. Own it.

It's not a food blog, but it's a blog that loves food.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

no, I didn't do that

So, I made these muffins yesterday. These fantastic oatmeal raisin muffins (recipe thanks to The Kitchn). I pulled a dozen out of the oven. I now have a muffin-less house.

Which is all to say that these muffins are so freaking good it is unreal. Bunny and I gobbled them up. I don't think I've ever made anything so perfect - they were moist and chewy and the only thing I might have changed was to add more raisins. They also had this crumble topping that was pure genius. Inspired.

And now, all I can think about is how good that base recipe would be with apples and caramel instead of raisins and brown sugar. Like, saute up a few diced apples to get them nice and caramelized, whip up a quick caramel sauce, and go to town with the same basic recipe.

Tonight's actually going to be a bit food-heavy.

Bunny is making rosemary-orange chicken for dinner, and I've got beets in the oven and mashed potatoes on the stove. So that will be pure yummy.

I've also been thinking of revisiting the Toll House cookie recipe tonight. And caramel corn.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

feeling adventurous

So my stomach has settled down. Bunny made dinner, and it was quite simple: small steaks (cut from an eye of round roast we like from Costco), frozen veggies and smashed potatoes. For the most part, simple enough that I can stomach easily and helps settle things.

Now, I'm busy reading kitchen blogs.

Which is inspiring me to not only start the muffins I mentioned earlier, but also has me thinking about taking another shot at meringues. I have a new(ish) wisk, and it's much bigger than the baby one I repeatedly failed with. (I really need an electric mixer, and I just keep holding out thinking of how pretty the KitchenAid is, even though I completely don't have room for it and know it's not a possibility for at least five years for me). And I finally got a metal mixing bowl. (Bye bye plastic!) So I'm thinking that maybe that would help me get to those ever-elusive stiff peaks.

It drives me nuts. I get close enough that I can hold the damn bowl over my head for at least 10 second - but they are not stiff enough for a meringue.

The funny thing, with the amount of work I keep putting into fucking up meringues is that what I really want to make are macarons. Stubborn me, though, refuses to attempt a macaron until I get a decent meringue.

So maybe I'll give that a shot with the new equipment.

the weather is above me

This hasn't been the start of a particularly great week for me.

I had a really rough day at the office, and it did not end well. However, only so much should really be said on the internet. (It's totally nothing serious, but I still need to maintain some level of privacy.)

Then I came home and felt like utter crap. Bunny took a homework break and we snuggled for about half an hour, and then I crashed on the couch until 8 which was kind of perfect in the sense that I needed it, but I didn't get much done. And I woke up feeling crappy, which also didn't help.

Then I wake up today feeling particularly vomitty (this is normal for me - without fail I always feel about to throw up when I wake up). And almost threw up on my way home from groceries. Also, not so pleasant. My digestion is really annoying me lately. At any given time I am one of the following:
  • having uhhh "loose" bowel movements consistently
  • having massively painful indigestion after eating
    • which makes me put off eating some times
  • which is terrible because at the other end of the spectrum is me being so hungry I feel like I'm going to throw up
  • getting motion sick (me + public transit in the am is not a pretty picture - that takes me minimum half an hour to recover from in the morning)
  • either completely avoiding dairy or having my lactose intolerant self regret not avoiding dairy (pure pain)
Now, none of this would be nearly so bad if I didn't love food so much. I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to be a little ill either way so I had best enjoy what I eat. It can make me a little grumpy though - particularly when I'm actively being sick.

At the moment I'm balancing a nasty wave of nausea with the thought of chocolate chip oatmeal muffins, because I can't think of the last time I made muffins.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

oh the smells

This has been, without doubt, a great weekend. Two nights out with amazing friends, lots of great conversation and laughter and an excuse to wear the sexy boots (I'm in love) and have even more people tell me how much weight I've lost. I certainly can't complain about any of that.

If that was ALL that I had done this weekend, it would have been great.

My weekend, though, has been amazing. I've had snuggles in bed both mornings from Bunny (He Who Refuses To Sleep In). The cat was being rather cute today and came to sit by me on the couch, and I pet her. Which, given how antisocial and skittish this cat can be is a success. It's daylight savings, and I get an extra hour of sleep tonight. (I only ever notice it on the Monday morning.) Bunny and I have had a couple of good wedding talks (guest list, budget). I've spent some time on my needlepoint, and the area I've been avoiding is starting to come together.

Better than all that, though, has been the FOOD.

Friday, Bunny took over and we had some lovely barbequed chicken drums with snow peas and rice. It's always a bit of a treat when he takes over dinner, even if I do look at the kitchen as MINE. (Seriously. I'm pretty sure I stamped my name all over it.) I had a new glass jar that I was able to put my green lentils in, and I love how they look in a jar instead of a bag.

Then yesterday, I was kinda in a grumpy, lazy mood all morning and afternoon. Just no motivation to do anything. However, there has been this thought of cinnamon buns in my head all week, and I had a container of homemade caramel sauce in the fridge waiting for some love. Then I remembered that I can even do lazy-girl cinnamon buns and let the bread machine make the dough!

Holy freaking delicious. None of them lasted until today.

Can we stop for a moment and appreciate the ancient bread machine? That my mom must have gotten for Christmas at least 15 years ago ... and used for about a year. It had been gathering dust until my mom said "Either you take it or I throw it out". Bunny and I don't use it too often, but we are always impressed when we pull it out.

It's actually in use right now, making dough for some garlic dinner rolls ... that will be accompanying some fresh, home made pasta. New recipe, but I'm excited. Luckily I have another hand me down from my mother (this one was a wedding present - older than I am!) in the form of a pasta machine. So I'm going to give fettucine a go.

Fresh fettucine with some sauteed spinach, drizzled with a really lovely olive oil and some grated parmesan. That sounds like pure heaven in my mouth. and I'm excited to do a nice, thicker cut of pasta - I'm not into the spaghetti/spaghettini/angel hair type thing. I prefer my pasta to have some heft.

This is all saying nothing about the oatmeal cookies of doom. I tried a new cookie recipe from the 1001 Cookies book - and the base recipe made me so made that I actually crossed it out  so I could never make it again. I wasn't thrilled with the first tray. Actually, they are really yummy, but they are also a pain in the ass and that part I just didn't want to deal with. I modified the dough after the first tray came out, and am much happier with those ones ... but I'd rather start with a decent recipe and then if I want to change things I can do so easily.

Suffice it to say, all weekend while I have been home there has been this beautiful aroma coming from my kitchen.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

drunken wedding conversations

Last night Bunny and I were out with a couple of friends - just having a couple drinks (well, they had a couple drinks, I was just there for water and good friends). These are actually friends who we haven't seen in the past few weeks, and thus did not know we are engaged.

So Bunny took great delight in telling them, or rather, having me show them. It's a little bit suffocating, if super sweet, the way that all eyes suddenly become on you when someone finds out. I love how excited people get for us, and how happy people are for us ... but I don't like feeling like I am public property. Everyone wants to know everything.

Some things, though, are private. I like my personal space, I'm uncomfortable around most people. I mean, once I know someone and am really comfortable with them, I am the epitome of the term "overshare". I have no modesty, and most of my life is an open book to my friends. But these are friends through Bunny. Two of the most fun, sweetest people we know - but still. It's not like I'm the person who would pick up the phone and have solo plans with them.

For me, that makes it a little bit awkward and uncomfortable having suddenly all attention on me, and all questions directed to me.

That's not really the point, though. At the end of the night as we were waiting for our streetcar, Bunny and I were talking. I had a drunk Bunny on my hands, and a drunk Bunny is a crazy talkative Bunny. So we got on wedding topics.

First there was "why aren't Ashley and Matty on our guest list? if we have room I want to invite Ashley and Matty." Then it was followed by "she looked disappointed that we didn't immediately tell her they are invited."

Well, honey, we are having a small wedding. Because it's what we want. The unfortunate fact of that, is that a lot of people are going to be disappointed not to get inviations. Essentially, immediate family and our bridal party (and their significant others) are invited. That's actually how I think of our guests, as a de facto bridal party.

Then, there was "if we have room can we invite Ashley and Matty? and Diego and Emmanuelle?" And so on and so on. Which, in and of itself I don't mind if he wants to add a couple people to the guest list. I like his friends ... but if we have 30 people there and I only get to choose 10, I will not be so happy. Yes, most of our mutual friends are his friends ... but I have close friends I want there too, and it's important that we both be happy and loved with our guest list.

I don't want to feel left out at my own party, you know?

At the end, we decided we would talk guest list more this weekend. I can't see too much changing, really, but we need to discuss it.

PS -
As a note, please be aware that our guest list is small because that's what we want, not because of budget. I would really rather have an intimate gathering of the people who we are close with than invite half the world and be stressed out about details and making sure everyone is having a good time (because I know me, I will be - if we have a big wedding I will not enjoy myself. So I don't want a big wedding.)

PPS -
We just ate half a batch of cinnamon rolls for dinner. So delicious and such a bad/amazing idea. Yeah!

Friday, November 04, 2011

real

So yesterday I contacted a wedding vendor for the first time.

I know Bunny has already contacted the venue - but that one almost doesn't count. I mean, it's picking up the phone and calling a friend. That doesn't really feel like a wedding thing. And really, this is where we will go for broke - it's very important to us to love our wedding food. Food is really important to us in general.

Yesterday, though, I emailed a photographer. I must be slightly crazy, because she's from New Brunswick. But she's also APW approved, and I was informed that she would work Toronto, and so I had to at least contact her.

She's freaking awesome. Her "about me" - half of it I could have written. She seems like someone I would really enjoy spending time with, and that's important to me.

I guess another level of reality is setting in. The reality that is contacting professionals and making inquiries about booking them.

I might freak out when I put the first deposit down.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

it's all about the money, honey

So , people who know me well know that I'm a bit of a budget freak. I like playing with numbers in spreadsheets and trying to see what I can make them do. I like seeing how I can make my student debt go away, how I'm going to save for that next fancy purse, or put away money for boudoir photography or whatever it may be.

It may then surprise you to know that I have not yet made a wedding budget. It's worse than that, actually. I have not practically sat down and worked the wedding into my budget.

I have an idea of what I'm comforable spending. I'm not currently going to put a number on here, but it's between 5-10K, so not a heck of a lot, but it's not small. If I wanted to, I could pay out of pocket for the entire affair tomorrow, so I don't even technically have to save specifically for it. Except for the fact that I totally do because a wedding is not a reason to touch the emergency fund.

I'm not sure what I'm dragging my feet about, really. Putting it off is just stupid, frankly - it doesn't help me in the long run.

I think seeing all the numbers on paper is scary. Part of me can't wait to do it - because when you have the budget in place it's really real in a way that is very meaningful to me. It becomes not just something I am talking about, but a plan that I am putting in to action.

Part of it is that I'm not sure how I feel about spending thousands of dollars on a wedding. I mean, really? One day? Granted, it is one of the most momentous days of my life, and I only plan on getting married the once. But it's a lot of money for one day. Which is part of why professional photography is so important - I want a physical reminder that lasts to come out of it. I want to be able to look back and relive this.

At the end of the day, we have also decided that our venue/food really dictate the rest of the budget. We are set on one specific venue - and it's not cheap. Not that it's ridiculous, but we are putting a real chunk of money down on quality food because that matters to us. The fact that we want a small-ish wedding also makes that more feasible.

I guess I need to get cracking, eh?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

on a serious note

Modern slavery.

I want to say more on the subject, but I honestly cannot calm myself down about this enough to speak rationally.

First, a friend sent me a link to an article about child slavery in the Ivory Coast and the cocoa trade(is your chocolate bar worth the fact that another person has been treated as less than a human being?) I read, I researched. My blood absolutely boiled.

So I researched some more. Then, I swore off chocolate unless it is certified fair trade, because at the very least I can choose not to support companies that enslave people, or support a supply chain that relies on slavery.

And I kept reading.

This is an issue that seems to be popping up a lot lately. There have been a few journalistic pieces on the news. There's lots online.

The more I read, the madder I get. Because apparently swearing off chocolate doesn't do very much. At least, not when you think about the fact that people who are enslaved are forced into the labour that produces your clothes, your electronics, your houses - your everything.

I don't have a link to the source, but this fact literally made my head explode today. There are 27 million slaves in the world today, more than there have ever historically been.

There are 27 MILLION PEOPLE who are not treated with the most basic of human rights? Women, men, children. People born into slavery, sold into slavery, kidnapped into slavery.

Boys stolen from bus stops, sold into slavery and forced to labour in cocoa fields in unsanitary conditions and with little to no hope of escape. Entire countries that force their children from schools come harvest time to pick cotton. Women and girls stolen from streetcorners and airports, sold into sexual servitude. Who are forced into a life of repeated, unending rapes. Adults and children coming to Florida to find work and being put into conditions of slavery picking tomatos.

Let's stop and think about the last one for a second. This is not just something that happens in third world countries. This is not something that is limited to sociopaths, or perverts. There are businesses in the United States of America that operate based on slave labour. I'm pretty sure that at least part of the point of the American Civil War was that people cannot be owned by other people. Ever. It just isn't possible.

I am not unfamiliar with the historical facts of slavery. I know the history of it (though perhaps not as well as I should) as it has occurred in North America. My love affair with the ancient world means I have studied and written essays and reports on slavery in ancient Greece and Rome. In theory, historically, I will admit I was willing to entertain the idea that not every slave owner was a terrible person. On an intellectual level to think that "well, I very much disagree, but those were part of the societal norms at the time".

It doesn't fucking matter what the societal norms are. People are people. There are not ranks of people who are better than each other or lower than each other. On the most fundamental level we are all the same, and we can never forget that. Never.

People. People who aren't that much different from you or I. People who are somebodies' sons and daughters. People who think, and feel, just like you or me. People who are no different from you or me. In no way are these people any less than you or me or anyone.

Except that someone decided that it would be okay to treat them as less than human.

I may have mentioned how angry this makes me?