Friday, June 29, 2012

life, wherein I ramble

The shape of our lives has changed, a lot, since we've moved. It's something strange that I'm still trying to wrap my head around. Luckily, we got proper mattresses here yesterday, so at least our sleep can return to normal a little.

With Bunny working in a garage, it's not like I can stop up in his office with a cup of espresso for forced coffee breaks. Since my mom won't let us pay for groceries or anything, really (we've argued about this, and eventually agreed to accept her decision and pay her in free labour around the house and yard and told her that if she wants or needs to change her mind she can), Bunny and I don't have our Tuesday night grocery shopping date. Instead, grocery shopping means driving to every grocery store in the city with my mom on Sundays, while leaving Bunny to spend time with his family, or freelancing. Because there are people everywhere, always, Bunny and I don't spend the bulk of our evening on our own in our underwear cuddling and talking and chilling out.

The changes aren't bad, they're just odd. The shape of our lives is more social now, and we've had to bend to accomodate other people and their preference, which is new. And let's be honest, I'm selfish about my time and getting enough alone time with Bunny, so I don't always want to accomodate - but I do, and it is good.

We spend time every day with my mother, and his momma, and his sister and brother in law, and our (well, almost our) neice. It's interesting seeing how this social time works into our lives, and how it's not quite as draining as normal socializing can be. I don't feel guilty when I bring a book with me to read during the day, and I pull out my cross stitch at night because it's easier to talk and stitch than talk and read. It reminds me of weekends at the cottage growing up, surrounded by my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. The desire to connect, but the recognition that everyone wants to do a little bit of their own thing at the same time.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that Bunny is eager to sneak off to our basement earlier in the evening, the better to watch the weekend's MotoGP races in privacy and to chill out together. I think we're right now trying to negotiate the family time with the us time, and I think we're doing ok. We also get a pocket of time after he gets home from work but before either my mom or his sister is home that we try to spend alone.

And hey, I've been enjoying doing the laundry. What?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

life, and updates

Lots of little things are going on, and some big ones. I'm busy as a bee cooking and cleaning up around my mom's house. My weekends are being absorbed by the prospect of moving. Bunny and I have a wedding to plan and are running out of time to do it (luckily it's fairly low key). I've been cooking more, but it's really too hot to cook much.

Tomorrow I'm thinking of doing something utterly special and unspecial: stir fry, but with chicken. I'll send Bunny out to get some extra peppers and such.

One thing I've been doing while in this moving process is reading like a fiend. I have a stack of old & new books I've discovered here that I want to dig into, and I have the first four books of A Song of Ice and Fire. Technically, I'm supposed to be reading the last few chapters of the Lions of Al-Rassan, which is one of Guy Gavriel Kay's most brilliant works (and which I will finish, if only to tell you about) but in reality I'm two thirds of the way through the second Game of Thrones book. I stayed up reading last night until 3am when my eyes just wouldn't focus anymore.

I've started back up on doing crafty things again. My pillows are going to remain unfinished while we're here, because stuffing them will just make for more space-taking stuff, but I'll get to sewing the last couple of seams soon. As for my cross stitch, well, I abandoned the one I was working on before. Which is strange for me to do ... but I needed to. Picking that piece of fabric up filled me with dread that I can't even explain. It was what I was working on when Bunny's dad died, and I just can't bring myself to look at it.

Which I think is ok. Did I ever tell you my plan to decorate our future imaginary child's room with cross stitch animal silhouettes? It's my new thing.

Tonight, I believe, we will be getting reprieve from sleeping on my mom's 20-year-old futon. Bunny and I both this week said "I'm sorry, but I need to sleep on a couch because this is killing my back" and have been sleeping on different couches on different floors of the house the past couple of nights. Let it be said: this bothers me immensely. Even if we're sprawled on opposite sides of the bed, Bunny and I are always touching when we're sleeping. It bothers me to be nowhere near him. I can't sleep easily. And even though we cuddle before bed, it's just not the same. Luckily, today his sister and her husband will be getting a new mattress, and my mom gets their old one (seriously, this whole our-mothers-are-next-door-neighbours thing rocks sometimes).

We rescued the cat last weekend. The annoying cat who Bunny wants to get rid of and is always pissing me of but I'm somehow slightly fond of, that's the one. She was not happy only having a once-a-day visit to feed and water her (although she made friends with her jailer). Currently, she's living in Momma Bunny's basement being mad and hissy and hiding on us. But that's cool.

Also, it is official: the only person goofier than Bunny is his neice. What does that say for my future?

Somehow, without even thinking about it, I have changed my go to hairstyle. I'm a ponytail girl right now. It's weird, and it completely changes my face to have my hair back. I'm trying to get used to that view in the mirror right now, because it still feels off.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

life, and days of celebrations

Father's Day just passed. Well, I'm actually sitting here writing the day after Father's Day, but you won't see this for awhile. Father's Day is a loaded holiday for me. This year even more so.

Bunny and I had a busy weekend, and spent both days packing up the old place as we prepare to move in with my mom (for now). Quite an impressive amount of our stuff has moved from one home to the other in the past week. Mostly thanks to Bunny, and my brother-in-law.

But back to Father's Day. It's existence kind of blows, sometimes. My "father" is alive. In fact, last week I slammed a door in his face. As that may signal, we do not have a relationship with each other. He's, well, there are a lot of things I could say about him and most of them would only be a half-truth at best. They would describe how I see him, and who he is around me; there isn't much good to say about that person. He's not always that person though, my brother has a good relationship with him. Having a relationship with him is not healthy for me, so I don't. I get a lot of grief from my extended family over that fact.

So Father's Day always brings up some unpleasant emotions and thoughts. I'm always uncomfortable with the day, and I always wish that my life were that little bit different. This Father's Day was different.

It was the first Father's Day without Bunny's father. Without my surrogate father. The last time I saw him, really saw him (I don't quite count the hospital, somehow) was on Mother's Day. I pulled the sock off his foot when we left, which drove him nuts. (It also drives Bunny and my brother nuts when I do it. Strangely, people don't like having a single sock removed.) The best way to show Bunny's father that you loved him was to give him a hard time. He'd respect you more for it, too.

Father's Day, this year, also fell exactly on the one-month anniversary of his death. There was a lot of potential for that day to go very badly, emotionally, for either Bunny or myself. Most of the day I was pretty tense, just waiting and watching Bunny, fully prepared for it to be pretty rough.

It wasn't as bad as it could have been. Mostly I just told Bunny I love him, a lot. We crawled into bed early and snuggled up watching TV. I put down my cross stitch so we could snuggle more.

I felt a little guilty. That I could see my father, if I really wanted to, and choose not to while Bunny can't have his. Then I let it go. Because they are two very different situations, two very different relationships. My (lack of a) relationship with my father is completely separate from Bunny's relationship with his father, and his father's death. One says nothing about the other, has no impact on the other.

It was an odd day. It felt like it should have gone a lot worse, but that's not a complaint. We're just stumbling on through, and we'll continue to do so.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

gnocchi alfredo with chicken and asparagus

When mid-June treated us to a massive heat wave, it was pretty clear that use of the oven for dinner making was completely off limits. Bunny can BBQ up some delicious things, but he's busy and tired and cooking is my job, not his. (He gets to do heavy lifting and moving and all these things that I can't or won't do. I get to own the kitchen. Which works, because I have no intention of ever giving up kitchen control, in all honesty.) So I had to figure out ways to cook, with what was in my mother's fridge, without using the oven.

After sifting through the fridge I came up with a package of gnocchi that she'd picked up when Bunny and I mentioned how much we love it, as well as a bunch of asparagus, some chicken breasts left over from earlier in the week, the parmesan I'd brought from Toronto, and coffee cream. I was pretty sure I could turn that into dinner.

Usually when I do pastas, I make a pasta and then have my accompaniments on the side. That gets a little boring, though, a little uninteresting. Plus, all the amazing pastas that I have at all these great Italian places in Toronto mix everything in, and it works well. So I decided to give it a whirl.

Like most of my pasta dishes, this one is pretty adaptable. Swap out the gnocchi for a more traditional pasta (or get adventurous and make the gnocchi from scratch this is on my to-do list for the future, by the way), asparagus can be switched out for any other vegetable (and a frozen one is even easier), chicken was what I had on hand, but I'm sure other proteins would work.

However, I have to tell you that this dish, just like I made it, turned out pretty awesome. it was just enough to feed three people (normal sized portions for my mom and me, larger for Bunny) and we had nothing left over. It was utterly delicious, and Bunny went so far as to compare it to a dish from my favourite Italian eatery. The creaminess of the alfredo sauce matches well with the density of the gnocchi and gives some punch to the chicken and compliments the fresh crunch of asparagus.

As with all alfredos, though, this is a heavy dish. Don't count on wanting huge portions when the weather outside is hot and humid. This is filling, and rich.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
    • This is a great use for almost any leftover chicken, but if you have raw chicken, just cook it simply. I let my breasts marinade in balsamic and lemon before putting them on the Foreman grill for about 10 minutes, but you could cook them in a pan or the oven as need be. They also sell packs of pre-cooked, pre-sliced chicken at the grocery store, and this is a good use.
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 small package gnocchi
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cups cream
    • I used a 5% coffee cream, but if I were using a heavier cream I'd probably use closer to a 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper, to taste (use freshly ground pepper, if possible)
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
  2. For the asparagus, break off the woody bottom parts. You can cut them, but the easiest way is to snap them between your hands; the stem snaps higher than I might like, but exactly where it naturally should. You'll also want to wash them thoroughly, as sand gets trapped easily around the heads and around those little daggy bits on the spear.
  3. Cook your asparagus!
    • I did mine on the Foreman grill, for 10 minutes, without adding anything.
    • If you have a stovetop grillpan, lightly oil that and cook for about 10 minutes.
    • Also feel free to boil or steam them - this bit isn't fussy. You just want some cooked asparagus. Again, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. After the asparagus has finished cooking, chop the stems into rough thirds. This makes it way more fork-ready.
  5. When your pasta water comes to a boil, cook the gnocchi according to package directions. As a general rule, gnocchi will sink to the bottom of the pot when it is uncooked and floats up top when it's cooked. Depending on whether you are using fresh or a dried variety, this can take between 2 and about 10 minutes.
    • If you're using fresh gnocchi, start making your alfredo (next step) before you begin boiling the gnocchi.
    • If you're using dry gnocchi, start making your alfredo once you have the gnocchi in the water.
    • When done, if your sauce isn't done yet, just let it sit to the side in the strainer. It's not a big deal.
  6. In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium high heat.
  7. Once butter has melted, add the cream to the saute pan. Wisk the cream into the butter. They don't come together too easily, so you'll want to wisk a fair bit.
  8. When the cream-and-butter mixture starts to bubble and thicken a bit, add your parmesan cheese. Again you'll want to wisk well to incorporate the cheese.
  9. At this point, taste your sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed. (You don't need too much salt, since a good parmesan is salty to begin with, but if you're like me and Bunny you will want to add a good dose of pepper.) Wisk again.
  10. Add your drained gnocchi, your sliced chicken and asparagus to the sauce. Stir things around, so everything gets evenly covered in the sauce and well distributed.
  11. Spoon out your yumminess and eat and enjoy it.
  12. Grate some more parmesan on the top if you feel like being decadent.

Monday, June 25, 2012

life, and weddings (part 2)

So, with this new massive-to-me wedding being planned, it seemed like the first thing to do was pull out the "wedding notebook" and play around with possible guest lists. (Really? I'm really revisiting the guest list now? I hate that.) Which is somewhat scary. I'm not entirely sure which of the many possible permutations we'll go with, but with the essentials (original list + Bunny's extended family + my mom's family) it's not too crazy. Even if we expand that a bit, which I'm sure we will, it's not too bad.

What I want to talk about, though, is the first page on that wedding notebook. The page on which I wrote my goals for my wedding, what I needed out of the event. Here's something that makes me feel a lot better about this whole change of events: every one of those requirements can still be met. I can still have amazing food, mostly on the day we do the deed (although I have some schemes to make the party food more palatable to me too). I can still not go crazy. I'm still having a small, intimate ceremony since we're keeping that separate from the reception. We're keeping costs down, which was a goal.

In fact, the only dream we're not meeting is the honeymoon in Spain, and that's a purely financial concern right now. We'll do an anniversarymoon in Spain, one day. Time it around the Catalunya GP (if it's still going, otherwise we'll make it work with Jerez). Yeah, we're totally going to plan a future trip to Europe around GP motorcycle racing.

I am not going to have my dream wedding. Whoop de doo. I can still have all the things I need, emotionally, out of the event without it being a dream.

Friday, June 22, 2012

life, and weddings

So perhaps I've mentioned the fact that my life is currently a little bit upside down? That everything I have planned for my life is in the midst of changing? Deaths. Moving. New job for Bunny. My mother's basement.

Well, with all those changes there's one more big one. The wedding. Oh the wedding. This is a bit of a headache and a half for me. Because the wedding we had planned? The beautiful, gorgeous wedding that Bunny and I were in love with but hadn't quite put money down on yet? It's in the trash. Our wedding is not going to happen that way.

First let me say that as sad as that makes me, I do completely support the idea. Bunny and I were always a little hesitant about the money aspect. We can manage the heck out of our money, but we just don't want to spend that much right now, simply put. He doesn't want to spend that much. I think a lot of it (at least from where I stand) is the fact that if we only invite twenty people to celebrate with us, the absence of his father is just going to be inescapable. It's inescapable however we do it, but we don't want it to take so much emotional space that day that it overwhelms everything else. And with our original wedding plans, it might well do that.

So, Bunny has planned us another wedding. Many details still to be worked out. It looks something like this: let's go to the courthouse, have a kickass day getting married, get photos taken at Walmart (cause how ridiculous and awesome would that be?), and if immediate family wants to be there they can, we'll have a couple of drinks on a patio somewhere with them and then ditch everyone and go have a snazzy dinner and stay in a fancy hotel for a night or two. (But not the Hazelton, although Bunny wants to, because $400 a night defeats the purpose.)

That day sounds pretty perfect to me. That day? That's my wedding.

Where things get tricky is that there's also going to be, according to Bunny's wishes, a massive backyard party a week or two later. With his family and lots of friends and beer and BBQ food (I am so not into BBQ. Le sigh. I will ask for specific contributions from others to make my taste buds happy. Or just make lots of mac and cheese.)

Here's where I have to admit something to myself. As much as I say that the reason I haven't wanted a big wedding is that my introverted self really won't enjoy it (big events are stressful for me, big events that are at least partly about me even more so) there's another reason that's at least as important. I don't want to have to make a decision about my extended family.

There's no way around the fact that people are going to be hurt. The question is really who? I could just not invite anyone, and that would be the easiest. Except for the fact that I then get to feel awkward and uncomfortable when Bunny's entire (and massive) family is there and I just have my mom, brother and three people from my mom's side. And there are a couple of people who I very specifically do want to invite. I could just pick and choose, but then I know I'm causing trouble for the people who I invite because of a certain family busybody who makes everybody's life slightly miserable. (Which, I should get over.) Then there's the fact that I could invite everyone except for the four people I specifically do not want there. That would also work ... but again, there are drawbacks.

So I have to make that decision.
So that bit is a big pile of frustration. I have some big heavy decisions to make and not a lot of time in which to make them. I'd really wanted to avoid it at all. Oh wells. There will be lots of fun stuff to offset the sucky.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

the class of 2012

Stating the obvious, June has been a weird month for me. June has also been a pretty cool month, with lots of exciting stuff happening on the not-quite-for-me front. It's graduation ceremony time, and for the first time since my own convocation in 2009, I'm personally invested in this year's graduating class.

In one week, I had the honour of attending not one but two convocations, for each of the two most important men in my life.

My brother this month graduated from my own school (which just makes me glow with happiness, because I love my school) with his Honours BSc, with first class standing. That first class standing bit? Basically means he's smart and he got good grades and he put at least a little bit of effort into his context credits (the equivalent of gen-ed requirements at our school) and had this awesome overall average. He got to wear a special rope with his gown and hood and be all extra awesome.

That kid? Well he's doing grad school next year. Mostly just because he's awesome.

The next week was Bunny's turn. Which might be even more special, because Bunny went to university right out of high school. He took this fancy dancy architecture program, and dropped out his last year before graduation (it got him an awesome job that gave him good experiences, though). Then he quit the fancy, well paying job because it wasn't him, and didn't make him happy and he missed having a life outside of work. He studied something he cared about, and did damn well.

In fact, Bunny was one of less than five graduates from his college's School of Transportation (hundreds of students were at the ceremony) who graduated with what was called high honours .... which basically meant that his GPA was super high and he put a butt-load of work into things, and his lowest mark was an A.

Now that guy there is actually in a shop, doing what he wants to be doing.

I'm extra proud of these two crazies. I take a little personal pride in their success; I feel like I actually contributed in a way. Plenty of days were spent editing essays, and assisting with studying. Or making dinners and doing chores I hated so energy could go towards studying. Restructuring of my life to help Bunny chase his dream.

So congratulation to the class of 2012. They've earned it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

cheating while cooking

It's stinking hot here. The last thing I want to do is turn on an oven, but I still like a warm meal for lunch. Given that I'm the only one home for lunch (unless I want to run over next door and have lunch with Momma Bunny, but she's usually pretty busy around lunchtime) I also don't want to put a whole lot of work into it.

Luckily, my mom has the best cheater's tool ever (Bunny and I have one too, but don't often pull it out). The George Foreman grill. All I have to do is ruffle through the crisper drawer, come out with some vegetables and whack them on the grill.

Seriously the easiest thing ever. I take a handful of broccoli and cauliflower florets, or a bunch of asparagus, and chuck them on the grill for ten minutes. Drizzle them with olive oil, or spread on a bit of butter, and grate up some parmesan cheese on them and they are a perfect side dish (or lunch).

It's also nuts how easy this is. I've been doing it every day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

wedding trends

Hello, I'm getting married. *waves* Oh, and look there; it's a bunch of my friends who are also getting married, or who just got married, or who are planning on getting engaged. And hey, there are entire blog communities made of awesome dedicated to weddings and married life.

I'm noticing a trend regarding weddings and people's hopes/expectations, not only within my own peer group, but also somewhat on the internet. It's an interesting one.

There's this stereotype that as little girls we all dream about our weddings, and that they are all big, grand days full of fairy tales and ponies and glitter and magic. Then there's this concurrent stereotype that men don't care at all, because they are men, and weddings belong to women. That being the case, one would expect that, if the stereotypes were true, women would want big weddings and men would want little ones, right?

Um, no. Not right.

Thinking of three weddings coming in the next year or so, I know three brides (myself included) who wanted little weddings and whose grooms have pushed for something bigger. Turns out, this may be more common than I realized, as I discovered on a recent Get Rich Slowly post.

What's up with this? Is it that we, as women, have weddings pushed on us to such an extent that we want to give up, a little? Is it that because we're exposed to weddings so much, and the ones to whom much of the planning tends to fall, we better understand the work and expense involved in weddings, especially bigger ones?

Or maybe are the guys getting in touch with a slightly less practical but totally celebratory part of weddings that gets easy to miss in the mess of actually planning one? Maybe because (as a generality, in my own experience) they aren't the ones stuck planning all the details (even the ones that suck, and that they don't care about) they're able to focus more on that big picture? The fact that a wedding is a giant celebration of love, and a chance to share that with and be accepted by our community. Maybe they're more able to tap into that. I'd like to think that's what it is, at least.

It makes me wonder though. How about you? If you are getting married/have gotten married, how did you decide how big of a wedding to have? How did you and your partner differ?

Monday, June 18, 2012

life, and books, and brothers

I have a younger brother, as you may know. That's the extent of my sibling relationships. (Well, truth be told I'm also given to understand that technically I have three younger stepsiblings but I have no proof of their existence and if I haven't met them after a decade I wouldn't say I have a "relationship" with them.)

My brother and I are wildly different. He's sporty and athletic and has won provincial championships and all sorts of awards and crap. He's good at science and maths and much more extroverted than I am (in the outgoing sense, at least; I have a sneaking suspicion he might be an introvert in the energy sense). He lives in chaos, and he has girls hanging all over him and likes getting dirty and mucky and stuff. On the other hand, I'm clumsy and shy, don't like crowds, book smart in the humanities but science spins my head and I'm dyslexic when it comes to numbers. He's likely to be off running around somewhere, I'm likely to be found indoors with my nose in a book.

Something that I've been realizing lately, to my surprise, is just how alike we are. We're both snarky and sarcastic, and neither of us likes to repeat ourselves. We both cook (me for love, him to fuel his 4000-calorie a day metabolic requirement) and are savvy with our money. We're night owls who like to sleep in, and neither of us sleeps particularly soundly. Heck, we're even attached to the same family heirlooms in the same order (therefore my mother must write a will, or we will squabble.) As of last week, my mother even has a matched set of framed Brock University degrees sitting in her living room ... in the nearly identical from afar but with very different details frames and mattes we individually chose. We both turned down class rings (but I upped the ante with a school tattoo).

My brother and I are fairly close. We talk and text at least a couple times a week. We've been known to call each other for personal advice. (Maybe he's the person I should take my "who to invite to the wedding" woes to, but I don't want to put him in the middle.) I spent a solid month in February or March editing his final papers and revising and hashing out the written portions of his grad-school application. When he got in, it felt like I was a part of his success.

So it shouldn't have surprised me when a month ago he called and asked if I had the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy right after I finished reading it. It should have surprised me even less the other week, when visiting for a big important event (concluded with the expensive piece of paper that matches mine) I was lying on his couch waiting for him to be ready, reading A Game Of Thrones that he would come out of the bathroom, look at me, and say

"Huh, funny thing," hold up his own copy of the same book, marked to maybe fifty pages past where I was "I'm reading the same thing."

Because clearly we did come out of the same womb. Also, I have no issue being similar to my brother. He's a pretty swell guy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

life, as ever

I think it's easy to feel like my life is hard right now. Some shitty things have happened, that I really would rather hadn't. A lot of big decisions have been made (by me, no less) that are the best decisions and I completely support ... but don't love.

It's easy for me to sit around and complain about it. Sometimes I work things out by ranting and raving and saying how much I dislike the situation. I've got a lot of flux going on around me and it's confusing, and overwhelming, and I'm a little lost with everything.

But for the most part I am good. Things are alright, and on balance I am having more good days than bad days. I'm just more talkative (or, more revealing?) during the shitstorms.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

life, and cooking

I get to make dinner tonight. It's almost crazy how excited I am about that, but the fact is that I love to cook, and I haven't had any hands on time in the kitchen since mid-May. Which is almost unthinkable to me, but it's true.

So I'll be making simple stuff tonight: from scratch fried rice and pre-packaged potstickers. Maybe I'll even do some glazed carrots. Later in the week holds the promise of spinach dip and stuffed mushrooms, breaded chicken with roasted mini potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. Among other things. Such as broccoli to roast for lunches and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Yum.

Notwithstanding the fact that being able to cook is awesome, in and of itself, there are lots of other benefits here. First being that my mom has essentially given me free reign over the grocery list, and doesn't seem to have much of a budget (though it doesn't stop me from constantly looking over the sales and choosing off-brands for the price). Which is just super fun. Even better, though, is the fact that me cooking also makes my mom's life a little easier, what with coming home and not having to worry about dinner about half the time. Yeah that bit rocks hard, I think.

The bit that I don't quite want to admit is that having some control over what I'm eating and how it's prepared makes me feel better. Life today doesn't resemble anything I ever could have expected a month ago, which isn't the end of the world. It makes me feel very off balance though, like I'm flailing wildly in the wind. Cooking is something that makes me feel normal again. So I'm excited to be doing it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

roasted cauliflower florets

Today I'm hiding out, trying to catch up on some alone time. Reading a bit. Checking out job listings, writing cover letters for distribution later in the week. Nothing too fancy.

So obviously, it was also the perfect time to do a simple little lunch. Granted, this is no more fancy than my grilled asparagus, but it thrilled me. I got a little bit of healthy, little bit of buttery-crunchy-yummy, and a whole lot of full, happy belly.

This is a variation on what I actually wanted: fried cauliflower. That's just too indulgent, and rather too much work as well. We'll be honest here, I'm lazy. My preference would have been to add some parmesan to this, but I didn't have any. If you do, sprinkle with abandon.

I promise there is nothing to this recipe. Nothing. I almost feel like I'm cheating calling it a recipe. But I'm still going to. This serves one person, as a lunch, or perhaps two or three people as a side dish.

Roasted Cauliflower Florets

Ingredients:
  • 1 to 2 cups cauliflower florets (about a quarter head of cauliflower)
  • 1 to 2 tbsps butter (although you can certainly use margarine or olive oil, I like the butter flavour)
  • 2 to 3 tbsps bread crumbs (mine came pre-seasoned, if yours don't add a little salt and whatever else you like to this)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional, but amazing)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Arrange cauliflower in a casserole dish. Place small pats of butter on each floret. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top.
  3. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes. If using parmesan, sprinkle on with about 10 minutes bake time remaining, so it doesn't burn.
  4. Eat!
Seriously. That simple.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

life, and having enough

I'm at the end of my rope today. (Granted, "today" for me, means several days before you guys will read this, but still.) I have had enough. I do not want anymore.

You'll have to take my word that I'm saying that in a calm way.

It's been a long week, and the next few days aren't really going to be any calmer. Visits. Days on busses. Graduations. Packing. Meetings. Etc.

Really, I reached my breaking point the night of the funeral. All day taking care of Bunny, and everyone else, and then Bunny had a moment at the end of the night that pushed the one button I was just not equipped to handle. Then I got to take care of him some more.

I was something of a brat the next day. Well, I was a total brat the next day. His hung over self got no rest, as I very nearly tortured him. Mostly I just woke him up every time he got to sleep and yelled at him to drink his water. It wasn't the nicest thing I've ever done to him.

It's just all too much. His dad dying is this big, horrible awful thing that still doesn't seem real. I still pretty much expect that he's just down in his radio room when I'm around the house, even though I know he's not. The big problem right now is that it's mixed up with all these other changes and it's just too much. Have I said that bit before? It's too effing much.

My life is upside down and I don't even know what I'm reacting to anymore.

But I'm damn pissed that I no longer have the privacy to just react and feel what I need to feel in private. Two adjacent three bedroom homes. Seven people. There is no privacy in my life and it's driving me up the f*cking g*dd*mn wall.




Also, because I want SOMETHING here to be happy right now, I have to say I'm super excited for summer walks on the beach, and ice cream at the little stand (Sarasota's? I think?) by the marina. Yeah those bits will rock.

Monday, June 11, 2012

life, and cravings

The closest I've come to cooking in weeks (I believe I've mentioned this before) is grilling some asparagus on a Foreman grill, and then hitting it up with some butter and salt. We've been very lucky, in that Momma Bunny has been keeping us fed with Newfie fish, and slow cooker ribs, and sausages and lots of other delicious things. Plus, my mom has her fridge full of flea-market samosas and all of our favourite snacks. She even bought a box of icing sugar donuts when I complained that I'd lost ten pounds in two weeks. (Those donuts are gone. Yum.)

Not cooking, naturally, has me just jumping at the bit to cook. I miss the control over my meals. There are certain things that I'd just adore eating. Some of them will probably come up soon, I'm sure.

Just to get them out of my head, here's a small sampling of the meals I desire:

  • A cheese and meat platter. With brie and blue cheese and honey and crackers and walnuts. Maybe some proscuitto. Definitely some proscuitto. Perhaps some smoked salmon? Sliced apple or pear, for some juicy crunch, and pretzels to go with the proscuitto. This is a favourite of ours.
  • I miss my spinach dip dinners! (Not so healthy, but awesome.)
  • Fried rice. It's a simple, normal meal for me, but I want to make my fried rice and some dumplings.
  • Roasted broccoli, with some olive oil and parmesan. That's a meal in and of itself. Maybe a nice roast beef on the side, though, to make Bunny happy.
  • Maple-whisky salmon. With wild rice. And green beans with slivered almonds. Wouldn't that be lovely?

Saturday, June 09, 2012

life, and leaving the city

It's a little crazy. Has anyone been following the news in Toronto lately? In the days/weeks/time since my father in law passed, the city seems to have gone crazy.

Union Station flooded with sewer water from crazy rain.

There were shootings in the Eaton Centre food court. (This one freaks me out more than I can say. Sometimes I wander around that mall, and that food court, just because I'm bored.)

A toddler fell two storeys in another mall this week.

Friday, June 08, 2012

life, and random ramblings

Yesterday I started cleaning out my mom's basement. My mom's house is full of clutter (and my brother and I are probably as much to blame as my mother for this) and Bunny and I need to clear out the basement. So I started with the cubbyhole under the stairs. I am rather shocked by the sheer amount of shit I found.

There are bags to go to Goodwill. Bins of laundry to be washed before they go to Goodwill. Piles of things for my mom to go through because I think they're garbage but she wants to give everything away. I don't like the idea of giving actual crap to Goodwill.

I did find some interesting things, though. Piles of pictures that I'll go through at some point. A pair of pants that fit. Which I'm both happy and sad about. Because I mean, YAY I have a single pair of pants that actually fit. In a size I haven't worn since I was nineteen. On the flip side, wtf? I'm not happy that I've gone down a full size in two weeks. Stress can do that though.

This weekend I also gained possession of my new glasses. Including prescription sunnies! I have sunglasses! I can put something on to protect my light-sensitive eyes so I don't constantly look like I'm crying in public. (Apparently there's nothing else they can do for that. Damn.)

This week's going to be busy. Bunny's off at the mechanic's shop where he is now employed. (Heck yes!!!!! We are excited.) Tomorrow morning I am substitute babysittig so Momma Bunny can go handle some government paperwork. They are going to leave me alone with a house full of immeasurably cute toddlers. I am done for. That's just dangerous, my poor ovaries are going to be screaming at the end "babies! babies! we want babies!" Then there's a day with a friend, and then my baby brother's university graduation (how is it already time for that??) and time spent packing and moving.

Busy!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

well that was a dangerous purchase

I've been in a bit of a reading rut. I'm currently reading an old favourite of mine, and I have a pile of books to re-read sitting on an end table by my mom's couch. I enjoy revisiting old favourites. Sometimes, though? It's not enough.

That being the case, I picked up a boxed set of A Song of Fire and Ice and am so freaking excited to start A Game of Thrones.

Yeah, I know. Late to the bandwagon. As always.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

life, even when you don't recognize it

My life today looks nothing like it did that Wednesday, before Bunny's father died. It's a little hard to fathom just how different things are. It hasn't sunk in yet.

There's a moment from the days after that is stuck in my head. It seems to epitomize this idea of things being so different that I don't recognize my life. A moment where I didn't even recognize myself.

It was the day after he died, I think. Or maybe the day after that. I'm not sure, because the days all seem to blend into each other. There's something of a haze surrounds this whole affair. We haven't quite worked our way out yet.

Just before heading to bed, I went to the washroom. To do the usual, brush my teeth, comb my hair, do my toilet business. The same things I do everyday. There was nothing unusual about these acts in and of themselves.

At some point, though, I looked in the mirror. I really looked, and I was transfixed. Who was this face, staring back at me? I saw my eyes, in my usual glasses, staring back at me. Were those really my eyes? They were empty, expressionless. It was like staring at a doll. There was nothing there.

I kept looking. I couldn't have looked away if I'd wanted to, really. Who knows what I did want, anyway? Cheeks seemed sunken, hollow. The skin I saw reflected back was so, so pale. Even the freckles were pale. When had my collarbones become so prominent? Was my neck really that long? My hair was pulled back, but the face I saw reflected didn't look masculine. (I always think I look too masculine. That's my own little stupid insecurity.)

I saw cheekbones and smile lines. Frown lines? That face was so expressionless, it was hard to tell. I tried a smile, forced and unnatural. Who was this girl with a narrow chin and dimples in both cheeks? I'd only ever noticed the one on my right cheek.

This person in the mirror looked nothing like me. Or else she looked everything like me, and I have no idea what I look like. I'm not sure which is more accurate. Maybe both at once. That rather describes exactly how my life feels right now.

I keep catching looks of myself in the mirror and not quite recognizing me. I'm spending a lot of time staring at mirrors, lately. The stories they tell me just don't make sense. Who is this girl I keep seeing? Is she really me?

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

life, and busyness

Given that we've made so many Big Changes type decisions lately, it's only fitting that we've been busy. This morning I decided to get all productive in making my mom's basement our home ... and working at finding somewhere that is not my mother's basement to live.

I did laundry. (Which I did not hate today. This might come as a shock.) I did some manual labour, dragging out an old wardrobe from the corner of the laundry room into the basement proper so Bunny and I can hang up some of our clothes.

Then I decided that I'd had enough physical labour and would move on the the mental work.

I scouted some apartment and house rental listings in Barrie. (There might even be one just up the street. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. Weird.) Bookmarked a bunch of them to go over with Bunny later in the week. Then I went on a few job sites and found about half a dozen listings I don't hate to start applying to. After those cover letters are written and resumes are out I'll scrounge up another half dozen or so and work on those.

This afternoon I crawled next door, brought over the puppy, and have been just reading and hanging out with Momma Bunny after the productive morning. Just enjoying some quiet, reading a little bit from an old favourite. Casually watching some crappy tv.

I'm still thinking about that hunk of parmesan cheese back in Toronto. I'd like to start cooking my own meals again. The other day I told my mom she's probably going to be coming home more often to dinner already made for her, given my presence. Apparently I'm going to be providing some substitute childcare this week, when Momma Bunny heads off to some legal appointments. Soon I'll start working on my novel again. Writing seriously would be good.

Time is passing very strangely. It's June, and half of my mind feels like it should still be May, the other half thinks it should be July already.

Now I'm going to sit down and enjoy a warm cup of tea on a nasty weather day. (The rain, it just won't stop!)

Monday, June 04, 2012

baked almond spice muffins

You've heard my complaints lately about all the crap I've been eating, right? And I'm sure you all realize that I have not made a single dish (aside from asparagus on a George Foreman grill) for myself in two whole weeks, which is ridiculous. I also haven't really been with it enough to actually think about food, or recipes.

That alone tells you things are odd around here. I've been thinking about food, though. I have in fact promised Momma Bunny some home made macaroni and cheese soon. I'm also thinking about fried rice (because you know I love it) served up with some frozen pork and vegetable dumplings kicking around my mom's freezer. There's also this hunk of really good parmesan cheese in the fridge in Toronto that I'm itching to pick up, and grate over some fresh pasta, or roasted vegetables. Or turn into fettucine alfredo. Or anything. (That cheese has ingrained itself in my mind. So badly. I want to just bite into it and it is so far away.) I miss my mini-ramekins and spinach dip for dinner nights.

These muffins, though, are the last thing I baked. They were supposed to be donuts, but didn't quite work out that way. I took that chocolate donut recipe that I'm crazy about, found more inspiration online, changed a few things around, added a bunch of spices and almond extract and called them "almond spice muffins" at the end of it all. Making them again, I'd add a half cup of almond pieces into these, or maybe some slivered almonds on top, to reinforce that flavour.

Because I started with a donut recipe, these are slightly unconventional muffins. They're very airy, and have a strong spicy bite (you may want to decrease the spices. I like the mix though). I almost wanted to put a cream cheese frosting on them, actually. That wouldn't be too bad.
Almond Spice Muffins
adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour, or finely ground almonds
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 tbsp butter, oil or shortening
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325* F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and garam masala until evenly combined.
  3. In medium bowl, mix together milk, eggs, oil, and the vanilla and almond extract.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, until everything is evenly distributed.
  5. Portion into 12 muffin tins, filling about 3/4 of the way.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are golden and the muffins spring back to the touch.
  7. Cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the tray.
  8. Eat. Enjoy. All that usual stuff.

Friday, June 01, 2012

life, part something

I'm tired.
I'm over-stimulated.
My introverted self has not had nearly enough alone time (or alone with Bunny time) to recharge.
Everything is happening faster than I can process.

I've eaten nothing but crap for two weeks straight. (It's been two weeks.)
Today I had A&W poutine. That may be the third or fourth time I've had poutine in two weeks.
Yesterday we ate every single meal out at some crappy fast food restaurant, as we were passing through the city.

Somehow none of this really seems to be a problem. It's just a lot, and I'm still not sure how to process it all.

This probably sounds a lot more depressing than I actually feel. I'm just tired. We're having our open house in Poppa Bunny's honour tomorrow and that's just a whole load of complicated emotion.