Thursday, September 27, 2012

women's rights should not be up for debate

Some big things have been going on in the Canadian political scene lately, between the omnibus crime bill that makes me fume, and the Parti Quebecois getting elected in Quebec, and just the other night a vote on women's rights being taken in parliament. This vote? It got the right result, but the motion never should have been up for debate. (Especially considering that our prime minister ran on a platform that promised not to reopen this debate.)

Canada's laws on abortion are a little, odd. In fact, there's very little in the books on abortion currently - there's no real law saying that abortion is legal, and yet it is. The way that our government currently defines the "begining of life" as the moment of birth. Which, to be fair, is more than a little messed up. The vote the other night was about whether to reopen the debate on when life begins. Which at the end of the day is just a sneaky way of trying to open the debate on abortion.

Which is a debate that has no business being opened. Period. Everyone has their right to their own personal belief on whether abortion is a morally acceptable action. What no one has a right to do is force their own beliefs on another individual. If you think that abortion is wrong, that's ok - I'm not going to argue that point. If someone thinks that their personal beliefs about abortion should affect the access that other women have to that procedure, that I take issue with.

This motion was soundly defeated, by about a two thirds majority. But what scares me: almost a hundred of our government representatives voted in favour of reopening this debate. Including the minister for the status of women. Granted this is a private member's motion in which you are supposed to vote with your conscience, but I have a very hard time reconciling being the minister responsible for women's rights and being open to a motion that could lead to abortion being criminalized. It's a huge conflict of interest: not so much just in this vote, but as part of the job description. If those are her personal beliefs, those are her personal beliefs and while I think they're ridiculous I can respect that they are her own beliefs - but I cannot reconcile the idea of women's rights being represented by a women who doesn't believe in a woman's right to control her own body. 

Here's the thing, I don't know if I think that being pro choice is essential to being a feminist. I have a very hard time reconciling the point of view that abortion should be legally wrong with feminist values, but I don't have a hard stance that being pro choice is essential to feminism. But to be the one women in government whose job it is to be a feminist and to stand up for women's rights when other concerns push back against them? I think that for that it is essential to be pro choice. Standing up for women's rights against all other factors should be part of that job description.

I'm not really sure how to end this. Maybe it's partly because I haven't entirely made up my mind, and maybe it's because the issue is still so up for debate in the news outlets here and I have this feeling like the issue is going to come up again (and again) in coming years. Maybe all I can say is that I feel very uncomfortable with this women representing my rights, as a woman. That perhaps she is not the best person for the job, and perhaps they should look at getting her another portfolio.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

hey! I can quilt

Is anyone other than me excited for my first quilting update? Because I totally am. Which you can take to mean that I'm clearly enjoying myself. I've completed my first round of simple nine patch quilting blocks and I have to say I'm surprised: it was dead easy. Later on down the line I'm hoping to get myself a new digital camera so I can supply some pictures, but for now, just words.

The biggest lessons learned so far?
  • white backed fabric makes a huge difference, as you can use a tailor's pen to mark your seams
  • if you screw up and end up with two of your fabrics with black backs apparently you can use a chalk marker
  • if you don't have a chalk marker just use masking tape. It's good enough
  • cutting your fabric into smaller strips ahead of cutting the final size you'll be working with is helpful
  • irons. these things exist, and I've used an iron more since I started quilting than ever in my life
  • apparently I am capable of sewing really straight seams, which doesn't seem like a big deal to me (I mean, the fabric is pinned and marked) but had blown my mom's mind
  • Bunny gets excited about blankets that are pink, black and silver when I'm making them. In fact, he may be a little bit upset that this one is likely going to be a couch blanket rather than a bedspread (somehow I think he gets a say in fabrics if I make a bed blanket)

Friday, September 21, 2012

tag team cooking and yorkshire puddings

Monday night's dinner consisted of what's better known as a British Sunday supper - roast beef, with mashed potatoes and yorkshire puddings and gravy and vegetables. The stuff I grew up on. (Although, strangely enough it's the Hungarian parent, not the British one, who makes boatloads of very British food.) It was also about the easiest dinner ever made.

I'm home a little earlier in the evening this week than my mom is, so when I rolled in and saw the roast my mom had left in the fridge I took a look at it, glanced at the clock and figured it was time to get started. Cooking was going to take an hour and a half so waiting an extra forty five minutes for her didn't make sense. By the time my mom got home the roast had been seared off, was in the oven, and the potatoes were prepped. And lucky me didn't have to lift another finger until it was time to make the gravy. Apparently tag team cooking works out.

Now this recipe I'm about to give you, it's easy as pie. Five ingredients, one appliance, and a muffin tin. That's it. My mom's yorkshires are just about my favourite food ever (excepting, perhaps, broccoli) and she has finally revealed her secret ingredient to me: an extra egg. That second egg is important, as egg is the only levening agent in a yorkshire pudding. No baking powder or soda, no yeast, just egg. So the second egg? That's what make these puff up beautifully.

The other two things you'll really want to be fussy about is that your oil is hot and I highly recommend the use of the blender to make your batter. Both of these help the yorkshires "pop" and so if you want the good stuff try to take care of those.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • vegetable oil
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450*F.
  2. In a regular sized muffin pan, put about a teaspoon of oil in each cup. When the oven is hot, stick the pan in for about 5 minutes just to heat the oil up. This will help the yorkshires puff up.
  3. In the bowl of your blender, combine your milk, eggs, salt and flour. Blend for about a minute to get lots of air and bubbles into the mixture.
  4. Evenly divide the mixture amongst your muffin spots in the tray, filling things about 2/3rds of the way full.
  5. Stick them in the oven for 20 minutes. Do not open the door: let the heat do it's work.
  6. Let them pop right up and turn into glorious deliciousness. Remove from the oven and let cool about 60 seconds. Use a fork to pop them out of the pan, smother with gravy and eat with mashed potatoes.
You're welcome.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

review: fool

I hate to admit this, but I have never been so glad to just be done with a book as I was with Fool. Which surprised me because I enjoy my Christopher Moore, although the last book I read wasn't my favourite. I couldn't wait to put this book down and finally be done with it.

But the thing is it wasn't bad. The humour was good. The twists on King Lear were interesting enough, I suppose. Somehow using the plotline of Lear as the story just didn't work as well as I would have liked - there wasn't enough space for Moore's crazy creativity to shine through. He told the story in a hilariously funny way, I just didn't find it super engaging.

Part of the problem may have been that it's been so long since I've read King Lear that I was completely unfamiliar with the story. I might have enjoyed the humourous take more if I'd have been familiar with the plotline.

I'm a little sad that I didn't like this one so much. Somehow I feel like I'm at fault for not enjoying it more. But I'm very much looking forward to my next books: I've got some fantasy waiting for me, and I've been recommended some distopian literature.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

project quilting has begun

I think it's fairly safe to say that most people I know have a "life list" or bucket list of some sort. Sometimes it's actually a formal list of things to scratch of that list before they die, sometimes it's more relaxed, maybe just a vague idea in their heads with a number of Big Things as well as a jumble of smaller accomplishments. The formality of my list tends to fall somewhere in the middle: I have, in fact, written this out at various points and I try to pay special attention to the items that never change (see the pyramids, raise a family, create awesome things, write the next big fantasy book) and make an effort to cross some of them off my list.

Recently I started what I consider to be a Big Thing, even if it sounds rather uninteresting. I'm making a quilt. Specifically it's on the list as "make a blanket" which gave me the freedom to learn to do it however I wanted. I don't love knitting or crochet though, and I do love sewing, so quilting seemed to be the way to go. It's something I've wanted to do since I was little and saw my Nanna making quilts for the cottage; it just seemed so cool that she was able to make these gorgeous blankets out of nearly nothing. Just some fabric and string and some pins. About a month back I bit the bullet and got started.

I'm going very simple for the first one with just nine patch blocks that are mostly being done the simplest way possible: nine pieces of fabric, sewn together. Some of the blocks are going to be a little fancier, with striped effects in the blocks, but I'm shying away from any curves or angles for the first go.

At this point things are still very simple: I've got my three patterned fabrics that I'm working with, and I've been just doing sample blocks (read: that means I gave myself permission to throw them out if they're shit). I've got basic tools: a self healing mat and rotary cutter, some quilter's rulers and fabric pen. Plus the standard iron and ironing board, but I already had those.

We're very early in, but I'm enjoying the heck out of this. More updates to come.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

when cooking sucks

I am in a grumpy @ss mood tonight. Like stomping around, big frown on my face, closing cupboard doors with more force than necessary kind of grumpy mood. It's almost comical, except for the fact that I feel awful and poor Bunny's stuck dealing with my pissy mood.

On my way home from work tonight my mom texted to ask me to start making dinner for when she got home. No big deal, right? Except this time she asked for a very specific meal and it's one that I've told her I hate. She gets this nasty pork from Costco that's like souvlaki seasoned and it's honestly one of the worst things I've ever eaten. It's so aggressively overseasoned (not spicy just way way overseasoned) that I can barely gag down a bite or two. Of course that would have to be what she asked me to cook.

I've been a bit of a bitch ever since I finished putting the pork and potatoes in the oven. Making dinner is a lot of work when you're aren't even going to eat said dinner and then have to go out of your way to make a second dinner and you're already exhausted from making the first dinner and a full day at work. I don't have the energy to make two dinners in one night.

Instead I'm sitting here eating two or three Cheetos every fifteen minutes trying to convince myself that this counts as "dinner". Some nights it does, actually (that's the ultimate lazy meal, but one I'm not proud of.) Unfortunately I'm hungry, and I want real food and all I've eaten for days are sandwiches, which I'm not a big fan of to begin with, and I just want something that's edible, with substance, that's not based on sugar or bread or weird puffed out corn covered in neon orange powder.

My oh-so-productive plan for handling this? Sit here and pout about it, which obviously is not getting me anywhere. Some days I'm my own worst enemy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

the ultimate lazy meal

I've shared a number of lazy meals with you over the past few months, but I have a new "recipe" for you that really will result in the most amazing lazy meal ever.

Directions:
  1. Find a spouse, significant other, parent, sibling or close friend.
  2. Tell them that you are exhausted, and if they would do you the biggest favour on earth you will be eternally grateful.
  3. Throw in some bribery until they agree to help you out.
  4. Say "Please make me dinner. I need to eat and I can't think straight enough to cook."
  5. Sit, relax or nap while they do the work.
  6. Enjoy whatever it is they have concocted for you, even if it's the most disgusting thing you've ever eaten. (Although it probably won't be.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

TGIF

This is one of those weekends that can't get here fast enough. We've had a rough couple of weeks in the office, it's the busy season so we're already, well, busy. And it's just pissy customer week.

I've been yelled at every day, bar none, since Labour Day. What drives me nuts about this is that the people who yell are the ones who create situations for themselves. People who actually have a legitimate issue? They're super awesome for the most part and it truly is a pleasure to help them solve things. People who are angry about situations that they've created for themselves, or have unrealistic expectations? Not so nice. I've had customers the past few weeks who have left me so upset with how they are speaking to me that I'm literally shaking. And I'd love to repeat their bs back to them, but really? Not productive.

So TGIF. Because this week, the weekend is still too far away.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

News!! Excitement!!

You may remember the little vacation from life in its usual forms Bunny and I took a few weeks ago. The one where Bunny and I took off to take care of a somewhat secret special task ... and now, it's officially announcement time.

We eloped! We are married.

It's a decision that I was always ok with, but it took 8 months for Bunny to decide that eloping was what he wanted as well (and 8 months of me trying to plan multiple weddings for us and going crazy doing so). It was really important to me that Bunny love our wedding as much as I did, and it didn't seem fair to push him into eloping if he didn't want it. In the end, he had enough with trying to make other people happy and trying to sort out the money issues and we said eff it, we're doing this just for us.

The day itself was magical. I couldn't have asked for something more wonderful. Here's the thing, though: I'm not all that inclined to talk about it. Or watch the video his mom took. Three weeks later, I still haven't seen the handful of pictures that we have.

Partly that's due to the revisionist nature of my memory. I have this perfect impression of my wedding right now, and I don't want to somehow distort or change it by looking at it too closely. I'm slightly scared that I'll somehow overwrite the perfectness of it all by sharing it to much or letting myself see it through someone else's eyes. It's also partly due to the fact that even though it was small and very by the book, with just a standard city hall ceremony, that it's so intensely personal I don't want to share it with anyone. You may get a dinner review, though. ;)

What I will say is that I couldn't be happier. I'm overjoyed to be married to my Bunny. We really needed this, just to be married already, after the year we've had together. We've been each other's rocks and it was so important to have that formally recognized and have legal rights over each other in an emergency.

Being married to the love of my life? It feels so, so good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

food cravings

In Milton, there's this little restaurant that a group of friends and I know only as Eat Eat. That`s not it`s real name, of course but we don't know its real name. All we know is that it's some d*mn good eats.

They have the most amazing sandwiches there. Most everyone else goes crazy for the curried chicken salad, but me? I'm a roasted chicken girl. And boy do they do roasted chicken paninis well, with spinach and cheese and thinly sliced pears. It's OMG good. If I were going to marry a sandwich, this would be the one.

Which is all to say that over the past three months I have not been able to get my mind off of how good this chicken sandwich is and how much I want to eat it again. Which either entails a road trip (for a $15 sandwich) or figuring out how to do it myself. The latter would be easier, the former more decadent.

Every now and then I get like this with a particular food item; Kelsey's spinach cheese dip with the fried pita, the honey mustard roasted pork at Coquine, the tiramisu at Terroni, the crusted diver scallops at Lee. What's funny to me about this one is that as a general rule, I don't even like sandwiches. They are not my thing.

But this sandwich? I can't get it off my mind.

What restaurant dishes do you crave? Are they worth going out of their way for, or do you ever try to recreate them?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Crafting Skill

This week I should probably be finishing my latest cross stitch. This is kind of a big deal because it's the first piece I'd ever say was really near to perfect. Oh, there were maybe a couple of individual stiches just slightly out of place, but nothing that truly affects the pattern. The back is incredibly neat as well; from a distance it's so clean that it looks like it could be the main picture.

The patter is gorgeous, three wolves howling at the moon. I'm using a dark navy aida cloth, which made the whole thing harder to stitch accurately. When I saw the pattern I knew that I had to make it as a gift for my mother. It reminds me so much of her and her two best friends.

What's kind of cool is that it's making me learn some new stitches - couching for outlining. I've only ever done backstitching before, and couching seems like it should be more complicated (two needles? two strands of thread?) but I quite enjoy it. The effect it has for outlining is a lot nicer than just backstitching which surprised me. It's weird to use for short strokes, though. Next I have a few French knots to put in, which is another new skill. Finally, since this is a gift, I'm actually going to have to sew it onto some cardboard and frame it.

I've also been reading other crafting books, so I can pick up a few more sewing skills. I'm also looking at starting to buy some books of cross stitch bits, like lettering, and buying my patterns, cloth and thread separately. Give myself a little more freedom in pattern construction. Maybe do a few customized pieces as gifts for friends.

I'm looking forward to expanding my repetoire of sewing skills. It's something that I find very soothing and calming. Plus, it makes me not feel like a freak when I'm bored watching a movie that Bunny picked out and need something to do with my hands.

Friday, September 07, 2012

happies

I'm tired, and I have a half dozen posts in the first draft stage (ie, written in a notebook because I wasn't at the computer) for you but I'm really too lazy to type them up. So that in mind, I did want to give you something and I figured a TGIF happy break was called for.

In no particular order, these things make me happy:

  • The collection of beautiful new brown things I have: dress, shoes, bag
  • Buying an amazing purse original price $398+taxes, actually paying $154 taxes in
  • Going to see my best friend this weekend
  • Text conversations with my funniest/most supportive friend
  • Bunny cuddles
  • Dexter. How did it take so long for me to find that show.
  • New season of Doctor Who. (Not so excited for losing the Ponds though)
  • Weekends off
  • Fresh coffee
  • Living near family

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

WTF Quebec?

Quebec's kind of been taking over the Canadian newscape lately. There's some craziness going on there.

The student protests over tuition hikes have been interesting enough to watch (and they're starting to affect another school year). I'm not 100% sure how I feel about those protests. Because students do pay too much for school, but even with the hikes Quebec still has the lowest tuition rates in the country. Then I consider this fact, a leftover tidbit from when I did fundraising for my alma mater: tuition only covers 50% of the cost of education. The rest is paid for by a combination of taxpayer support, university endowment funds (for those that have them) and parental/alumni donations. My understanding is that about thirty years ago, student tuition only covered about 30% of the education costs and was even further subsidized. It`s really a question about how we value education and how accessible we want it to be for our future generations of young adults. I think the Quebec protesters have some valid points, but I think it`s getting buried based on the fact that they pay less than anyone else in the country. (And all the antics. So many antics.)

Then there`s the fact that the Parti Quebecois just won the provincial election. Are we really back to separatism again??? They had a referendum on the subject when I was younger and voted to stay ... can't we be done with that? I kind of take issue with the fact that certain factions in Quebec use the threat of separating in order to bully the rest of the country's political systems to get what they want. I want a decision to be made, one way or the other, and the issue dropped. If they're staying, fine, stay, but don't use the threat to continue to try and get more and more out of the national government.

But the really oh wow moment: someone tried to assassinate the leader of the Parti Quebecois while she was doing her victory speech. How crazy is that??? I have a lot more to read on the incident, but it just boggles my mind that someone truly thinks the best way to further their political desires is to take someone's life. It's nuts.

At least it keeps my morning newsfeed interesting!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

sleeping in

Some days this whole "working for a living" thing kind of sucks. Not that I don't like my job (because I do), and not that I'm short on money (while I could always use more I'm making out just fine), but it's just so tiring and takes up so much of my time.

I've had the best of intentions all last week. To make dinner, do laundry, cut up a watermelon, tidy up the basement. None of it's been done. I'm too tired by the time I get home to really deal with anything that involves more energy than just sitting here and doing something quiet. On the plus side that's meant I've had plenty of time to do crafting and reading and just chill out with Bunny, but it's also meant that I haven't felt very productive.

Even on days that I don't work I'm tired. Case in point, I went shopping on Saturday with my mom for a few hours, and I literally had a three hour nap afterwards. I probably could have slept straight through to the next morning. The past few mornings I've given up the desire for pretty eyeshadow in favour of another five minutes of sleep.

In deference to my increased need for sleep, I may start taking an extra day or two off from blogging a week. Hopefully posts will keep coming on a more normal 5 days a week schedule, but I'm just not going to beat myself up if it doesn't happen. There are too many important things going on in my life that I just don't want to miss out on.