Wednesday, December 30, 2009

CBC News - Politics - PM seeks Parliament shutdown until March

Excuse me, but what is going on here?! This government is out of is taking too much control. I can't believe this is going ahead. Surely, no one is really going to let them shut down Parliament until such a late date.

I know I'm going to write my MP about this.

CBC News - Politics - PM seeks Parliament shutdown until March

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas, and are all very stuffed with their favorite foods. Um...I forgot to take pictures of our dinner last night, but I can assure you it looked as delicious as it tasted. We had wild mushroom & butternut squash ravioli with a simple spicy tomato sauce. db brought out a Super Tuscan wine he's been saving for a number of years. It was smooth and warming. We also had a spinach salad with pear and balsamic. It was a nice simple dinner.

I do have a photo of our Christmas morning breakfast though.

I know, I know. You're saying, "what is it?" It's from my Vegan Brunch cookbook, and it's called Tofu Benny! I marinated the tofu, pan-fried it. The bottom is home fries with green pepper and onion. I opted for the home fries base over the English muffin, because I love potatoes and could probably eat them every day. I also didn't have any English muffins. There is also some tomato in the middle with a little liquid smoke, and on top is the hollandaise sauce, which was a little strange because it really tasted like hollandaise sauce! The texture of it reminded me of that non-vegan eggy sauce, but the flavour really was so much better.

db was impressed as well, and I always know I've come up with something good when he's impressed. He's such a good cook. 

It was a nice way to start our morning, and a great breakfast after my run.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you're all having a restful day.

It's fairly quiet here in whoville. The cats have finally settled down (I think).

It's clear and cool here. We didn't get any snow for Christmas (I was hoping, but no luck), but it made for an easy run this morning. I couldn't think of a better way to start such a beautiful sunny day than go for a run. The other runners I saw out there wished me a Merry Christmas as they passed. It was nice.

For db and I (and most of us) it's all about the food. So without further delay here's the food.

The Christmas Eve menu started with Hot and Sour Soup, and it lived up to its name. db did a beautiful job on the soup. The wine was a Gewurztraminer by Cono Sur winery, which I couldn't really taste by the time I finished my soup because the spiciness was so strong. So I waited until my mouth cooled down to finish my wine.

Our main dish was a recipe from The Artful Vegan, our favorite special occasion vegan cookbook. We made the Cajun-Crusted Tempeh with Lemon-Caper Dill Cream and Braised Collard Greens served with Pecan Dirty Rice.

The lemon-caper dill cream was a cashew based cream, and I think I could almost eat this daily it was so good!

The Cajun-crusted tempeh was dipped in a vegan aioli sauce that db had made earlier in the day, and then dredged through the cajun spice mix I put together.

The Pecan dirty rice was actually "almond" dirty rice because I realized at the last minute that I didn't have any pecans. Fortunately, almonds subbed quite nicely.

The wine we paired with this dish was Smoking Loon Viognier from California. It was a very nice wine with the spiciness of the cajun tempeh.

At midnight we wished each other a Merry Christmas, kissed the cats (even though Gigi doesn't always appreciate kisses), and exchanged our gifts. It was a wonderful and delicious Christmas Eve.

It looks like Christmas Day's menu will be another feast. I'll post more on that later.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Marie Dubas - La Charlotte prie Notre-Dame (1934)

This is something my inlaws listen to every Christmas. Even though we can't be with them at this time, db and I found this on you tube and listened to it on Christmas Eve. It's a tradition in his family, and I'd like to share it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Christmas Tree Adventure

This year we returned to the organic Christmas tree farm we've been going to for the last 3 years.

It's about an hours drive from our place, but we think it's worth it. We support a small business, and we get to choose and cut our own tree.

It was snowing that day (Dec 13th), and by the time we reached the farm the snow was really starting to accumulate. It was so beautiful to be out in the country in the snow.

After a good search, we decided on this little tree. It was a bit narrower so it'd fit nicely into our space. Our plan was to put it on the ledge between our two living room windows, so we'd have to crop the top a bit. db took out his tape measure and checked the height. It would be a good fit.

We paid for the tree and put it into our tree bag, and it just fit into the car with the seats down. We were ready to go, but then db realized that he couldn't find the car key. So the search began.

Everyone there (the family working that day and a couple of friends) began to search. The snow was piling up quickly. Someone brought a bucket of hot water our and poured water around the car, and then around the spot where we had cut the tree. We took everything out of the car, and searched every inch of it. The tree came out of the bag, but nothing. No car key.

I took a rake and tried to retrace our steps through the farm, but realized the impossibility of finding anything in the snow.

It was definitely a "needle in a haystack" kind of situation.

Plan B. Get a key cut. One of the men told us that there is a place in Mission (or Abbotsford - I can't remember which) that will cut keys for you.

db goes inside and starts calling, but we need to initiate this through the dealership, and it's Sunday and dealerships are closed.

db tries to reach a co-worker who doesn't live too far away. She always has her cell phone with her and on. He could get the work keys from her  (it's a company car), and then drive to work to get the spare set in Vancouver (about an hour and a half from where we are). He can't reach her. 

db calls the company's roadside assistance while I wait outside standing around the fire with the family and friends getting acquainted. I also take another look out in the field, because it can't hurt.

Roadside assistance is no help. There's nothing else to do, but get the spare set of keys. Someone wisely suggests that we rent a car to go get the other keys. Furthermore, one of the family members is heading back into Vancouver and could drop us at the rental place.

We book a car at the Abbotsford airport since it's the closest open location. The roads are looking quite bad because of the snow. The woman who drives us to the airport is super nice. It turns out she owns a place on the Sunshine Coast she rents out to friends, but gives us her card because she would be willing to rent to us as well. She drops us at the airport. db and I are the only people at the airport who don't work there.

We get the rental car. We drive home to get db's work keys (an hour?). We drive to his work (another 45?). Then we drive from Vancouver back to Mission (over an hour). We pick up the car with the tree in it. db follows me out. I'm in the rental. It's now around 7:30pm. It's snowy, dark, and it's Sunday so there's very little traffic. The highway does seem to have been salted so it's a bit clearer, but it's by no means completely clear. It's slow going.

We're driving from Mission to the Abbotsford airport to drop off the car, and I see an airplane sign, and turn off the collector route, thinking it's a short cut. It turns out to be an airstrip and not the airport. We really have never been to Abbotsford so we don't really know where we are. We turn around. On our way back to the highway, there's a tow truck in the middle of the road in the process of pulling a mini-van out of a seriously deep ditch. We have to wait about 15-20 minutes in what seems the middle of nowhere while this accident is cleared.

Finally we get back to the highway and find the airport (it's around 8:45 or so by now), drop the car, and head home (another hour).

Our $30 tree cost about $110 in the end. At least we were fine after driving what seemed every road from here to Mission and Vancouver and back in poor conditions.

The plan had been to grocery shop, pick up the tree, come home and bake Christmas cookies. The cookies got made, but later that week so I was a little late sending them out to family.

The cats were very happy to see us after being alone all day and night. We were happy to see them too, an of course we were exhausted from the very stressful day.

Tonight we decorate our tree. I hope it looks even more beautiful than I could hope because it is a very unique tree for us this year.

Oh yes, I forgot about db's company having to get a new key made because it has a chip in it, so a completely new one had to be made for the car.

Also this past Thursday, someone from the tree farm called us to say they found the key (it had rained all week) about 10' from the where we cut the tree. We drove out on Sunday to pick up the now useless key, but the remote to unlock the car still works. db also decided to wear his jacket with the zippered pockets just to be safe.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CBC News - Canada - Tories pondered weaker emission targets for oil and gas

It's very distressing to think that our government could be taking actions like this.

CBC News - Canada - Tories pondered weaker emission targets for oil and gas

I'm so disappointed in this government for so many reasons. I feel like we're never being permitted to know what's really going on unless something gets leaked or a whistle blower comes forward.

Can't we be a leading nation? Can't we be a nation that aims for something greater? Am I too much of an idealist for believing our country could make the necessary cuts to greenhouse gases?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Food this week.

Brrr, it's cold! Snow is on the way for us. This will be the first weekend of snow, which means unploughed streets, cars getting stuck on hills, buses re-routing or not showing up at all, and all of that fun stuff. Hopefully, my commute to and from work will not be too disrupted.

So that's the outside. Inside, we've been keeping toasty warm of course, and have been eating warming foods.

db made a stuffed focaccia; something he hasn't done in a long time (as in ever since I and then he gave up cheese and became vegan). Now that we have daiya in our life, he realized that it was possible to make a stuffed focaccia. He also put chanterelles (did I mention he found more a couple of weeks ago in our trusty spot in the woods?) and pine nuts in the bread. Oh yum.

I had cooked a Sugar Pumpkin with intentions on making a pie, but...of busy schedule kept delaying the inevitable.

My co-worker, jh, had mentioned how someone had brought a pumpkin soup to the potluck, and how much she enjoyed it. Just her talking about the soup made me want to make my own.

I even had Sour Supreme on hand to put a little in the center to help cool the soup's heat. It turned out quite well, and was perfect on a chilled night in whoville.

Now if I can just get to the baking!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Cold weather running

I'm faced with a chilly run tomorrow. It's clear and cold here; the temperature hovers around zero through the day and then dips down at night. The upside is the sunshine and dry conditions, which are great for running.

I went out Sunday and had a nice short run. Once I was warmed up I was fine. Even with the wind in my face, I was doing okay. I just kept going at a nice easy pace and got my run in.

Tomorrow morning I want to take advantage of the clear weather again and go a little further. It will feel great and I'll be so happy to have gone a longer distance, but I hate that first step outside, leaving behind the warmth of my home to step out into a chilled air. That's the toughest part of the run for me right now. Even if I feel sluggish, I know how to deal with that; I can talk myself through the most difficult of times. But to step out into the cold in just my running gear...brrr!

It's going to be a cold one tomorrow.

Friday, December 04, 2009

In whoville this week...

I've been busy, but I like being busy. I'm adjusting to my new 6 days a week schedule. Sunday is truly a day of rest for me now, except that I have to spend it getting all the other chores done Fortunately we have an organic produce box delivered once a week. Otherwise I don't know when I'd grocery shop. db actually does most of the grocery shopping while I'm at work on Saturdays.

Bottom line though, I'm loving my life right now and that's a good place to be for me.

My 4 hours a week at Wildlife Rescue has so far been very exciting. The jobs could be called "mundane" (laundry, dishes, cleaning out the pigeon aviary), but I find it all part of the cycle of care for the animals (well, it's really all birds right now).

There seem to be new birds when I arrive each week. Part of me finds this exciting, but it also bothers me because I know they're at the rescue because they're injured in some way. There are always pigeons. City life takes its toll on pigeons, and they have all sorts of injuries. Once they're through the tough part of recovery, they move outside to the aviary. There's even a cool room they spend a couple of nights in before going to the aviary so they get acclimatized to the outdoors before being moved to the aviary.

I seem to be the one who doesn't hesitate to take on the pigeon aviary first. It's a lot of pigeon poop to clean, but I don't mind. I like setting up new food and clean dry towels for them on some of their perches. I've never really taken much notice of pigeons since they always seem to be just part of the cityscape, but seeing them in this new context gives me a new point of view. They really are unique, and each one seems to have its own personality. I'm basing this on how they react to me being in the cage. I could be way off on this one, but each one does seem unique.

This week I did another round of cleaning the indoor cages for the pigeons, and then I couldn't avoid it anymore, I had to take on a more challenging bird: a Varied Thrush.

With a bird that moves so quickly, and is already stressed, I was convinced it would escape and I would spend the rest of my shift trying to catch it, but fortunately, I found it easier than expected and remarkable that I could handle such a flighty bird (I'm sure it won't be so easy all of the time, but at least it helps me feel more confident going in next time). Next stop gulls. I have yet to deal with any really larger birds.

I'm always nervous that I'm going to injure the bird or do more harm than good, but I'm realizing that I'm more capable of handling them than I thought. I guess that's part of the learning curve at the Rescue.


Some other good news this week is that I got a raise! I mean I received an real raise in recognition of the work I've been doing for this independent little store. It was completely unexpected and very exciting for me. It's been a long time since I've been rewarded for the work I've done.

My other job (I have 2 part-time jobs) gives everyone a small percent raise once a year and it is not negotiable, and it is pennies. We're expected to do so much, and are paid so little.

This new job has been such a breath of fresh air for me. I really feel like I'm contributing to a small business' success. That is rewarding in itself.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Food from this past week in whoville

Almond cookies. This is a Veganomicon recipe. I need to adjust it a little since I substituted the all purpose flour with some of my other flours (oat, rice, spelt). I'm still learning, and am determined to come up with a perfect cookie flour blend.

Two books arrived in the store this week, Flying Aprons Gluten-Free Vegan Baking Book & Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I've already mentioned the latter of these two, and I was certain that I would buy that book when it arrived, but then...the Flying Apron's book arrived. It looks like such a great book with so many delicious looking recipes.

The next time we go to Seattle, we're definitely going to the Flying Apron Bakery.

Another delicious item from our kitchen this week was a pumpkin risotto. I absolutely love risotto. I love making it, as well as eating it. This recipe is one of my favorites because the pumpkin makes the risotto so creamy. Now that we have daiya in our lives, we can also add a richer cheesey flavour, bringing it all together.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Toronto Humane Society President Speaks Out About Allegations - CityNews

Toronto Humane Society President Speaks Out About Allegations - CityNews

I am absolutely horrified by this news. This is exactly why we need strong animal cruelty laws so animals can be protected from such abusers.

I think it's a good time to remember this quote from Gandhi, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

We've got a long way to go, but I believe we're on the right road when we can recognize the acts taken by the Toronto Humane Society as criminal.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

first volunteer days

Saturday I had my training day at Wildlife Rescue. We (there were 5 of us) were given a little more detailed tour of the buildings and what's what. Then we were shown some of the many duties that we get to perform while there.

We learned how to prepare meals for differnt birds following the "cookbook" I'd call it. There's no actual cooking, but just a detailed list of specific diets for each bird. We were each assigned a bird to prepare a meal for. I got a gull. Guess what? The gull does not get a seed mix like the other little birds. The gull gets chopped salmon & herring. Fortunately,  I didn't have to chop the fish...this time. That will be a learning experience since I've never cut up a fish before. An unlikely experience for a vegan, but it's all for the benefit of the birds.

Tuesday I started my first shift, working with a mentor. It was pretty exciting since it's all a big learning experience for me.

The walk from the main road into the park and to the sanctuary was nice. It's a beautiful park in the middle of Burnaby. The highway is on one side so there is some noise, but the deeper into the park you go, the less of that you hear. As I walked along the road I saw a great blue heron and (I'm pretty sure) a red-tailed hawk. I thought that was a good sign.

The first hour I spent stuffing envelopes since my mentor was out doing some releases. Then, when she returned we got to work cleaning out the pigeon aviary and getting them fresh food, grit & water. My first lesson was always wear rubber boots!  My old running shoes were great for comfort, but were pretty damp by the end of my shift.

My second lesson was bring disposable gloves for the aviaries since there's a lot of poop on everything! Gloves will also keep my hands dry while I hose everything down. Yup, it is glamourous work.

We also cleaned 2 other cages (a crow & a thrush), and prepared fresh meals & water for them as well.

Then it was more cleaning & tidying. As my shift is at the end of the day, we are expected to do all of the dishes, sweep up, and do the mopping for the next day's shifts. It is fairly busy even though this is considered a quiet time of year.

Just before we left, a woman was dropping off a heron with a broken leg (not the one I saw earlier that day). When we were leaving the attending vet was trying to work on a splint of some kind. Poor heron.

So far so good. I'm learning and loving it. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

David Perron Goal vs Islanders - November 21 2009

db and I really enjoyed this. The Blues with a win and this goal. I think my brother will enjoy this one too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wildlife Rescue.

I filled in a volunteer application with Wildlife Rescue (remember they were the organization that my last half marathon event supported). I was told that there aren't any positions open, but I could attend an info session that is necessary if I want to volunteer further down the road.

There were about 20 of us at the volunteer info session that lasted an hour. We got a tour of the buildings, and where the birds and mammals are housed until they can be released back into the wild. 

The volunteer coordinator said there was one volunteer position that just opened up on Tuesdays. I saw this as my chance. If I could get LV to give me Tuesdays off (thus slotting me into confirmed Mondays and Thursdays) then I could do this! Things were looking up. I could envision myself cleaning out cages, and doing laundry, mixing up diets for different birds and then doing the dishes. It's all very glamourous sounding I know. 
The coordinator suggested we sign up for the position if available, and she would draw names from the list. About half of the people there were signing up to be vehicle volunteers (i.e. they get a phone call to transport an injured animal to the center. I would do that if I had a vehicle. I can't really do that with a bike now can I?) The other half (the group I was in) were signing up for next week's 2 hour hands-on training session.  I signed that form and then flipped to the next sheet. No one had signed up for the volunteer position! I put my name at the top of the list. Sure I hadn't spoken to my boss yet, but I had to get my name in there.

When I got home, I had already received an email. It looks like I've got a volunteer position with Wildlife Rescue

I'm so excited. However, I wasn't excited about the required tetanus shot that I had to get yesterday.
Ouch! My arm still hurts. Fortunately, the doctor who gave me the shot is well practiced from giving so many H1N1 shots that her needle technique was excellent and I didn't even feel it (until later). Well, I'm covered for 10 years now. I think that should be sufficient for my stint at the Wildlife Rescue.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

vegan cookies

chocolate spice cookies fresh from the oven

Some dark cocoa, cayenne, and a cinnamon sugar topping make these the best cookies I've baked in a long time.
Where did I get the recipe? Where else? The PPK! Isa Chandra-Moskowitz even has a video of her making the Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodle.

The rich chocolaty sweetness with the spicy was such a nice combination, and they had an excellent sugary crunch from the topping.  (Notice that I speak about these cookies in the past tense. Yup, they're gone).

I'm very excited about the new cookie book from Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. As soon as our little store gets it in stock, I'm bringing it home, and will start baking asap.

It looks like a nice match for their Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World book, which appealed to me, but I knew if I bought it I wouldn't use it as much as it deserves. I like cupcakes occasionally, but cookies are what really appeal to me, so this is the book for me.

If you usually get cookies from me at Christmas, guess what's coming this year?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

whoville's backyard visitors

A Varied Thrush. Actually there were 3 of them flipping leaves over, looking for snacks. They seemed to be having some success. I have never seen them before, and had to look up their identity on this great bird ID site

A Northern Flicker flew into the yard amongst the Thrushes, causing them to scatter away. The Flicker then flew into the tree, leaving the Thrushes to continue flipping leaves over.
I was happy to see the Flicker because it's the second time I've seen them so close to the house. I hope it means they will return more.

Who's this little guy? He's pretty cute.

Prima disagrees. She pressed her head against the glass, keeping a close eye on the intruder.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sesame Street: 12 And Pinball Animation

This is one of those songs that has always stayed with me. The power of Sesame Street. I couldn't remember the images until I watched it now, but the song always stayed with me.

Sesame Street 1-20 raga

Since it's the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street (Hey! We share the same anniversary year!) I thought I should post some of my favorites.
I must have learned to count from Sesame Street.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

There are always more mushrooms to be found.

We went for a short forest walk today. db wanted to check out a sort of cleared area not far from our house to see what we might turn up.

In the summer this whole area was so dry, I was skeptical that any mushroom would be able to thrive here.


However, after a few heavy rainfalls, and with the success we've had finding chanterelles, I realized how naive I really was. Mushrooms are everywhere.

Here's db finding some more Russulas. We seemed to be finding 3 types in this area of the forest and they were abundant.

It's now pretty late in the season, but we're still finding some reasons to stop and look at the forest floor.
What are these?

Honey mushrooms? We're not sure and we didn't bring one home for further identification (spore print). The "white stringy pith inside" (as it's described in my field guide) led me to believe it was a honey mushroom. And no we didn't take a bite out of one as the picture might suggest, but someone else did. Some little critter might have had a nibble.
I wonder if we would have found more if we checked the area more thoroughly?

I am really starting to love fall.

Wow! Fungi plant growth - The Private Life of Plants - David Attenborough - BBC wildlife

I just had to share this one. One day food for me...the next day food for...

Friday, October 30, 2009

My City

I found this via Wandering Coyote.  I was hoping for Venice, but alas no. 

Your City is Buenos Aires

You are cultured, sophisticated, and quite old fashioned. You believe traditions are important, but you are still quite vibrant.

People don't know you well at all, and if they do, they totally misunderstand what you are all about.

You are more interesting and more intelligent than anyone gives you credit for. You are a bit of a hidden treasure.

You are creative, ambitious, beautiful, and fun. You may have a rough past, but you are always getting better.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Finally! Here's the duck finisher's medal from last Sunday's Rubber Ducky half marathon. Pretty cute.

And here's me pushing it to the finish line, and so relieved that I made it. Phew.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mushroom Mania

The Vancouver Mycological Society held its annual mushroom show that included an extensive display of mushrooms (good, bad, & ugly), people waiting to help you identify any specimens that you might bring in, and several talks given on differenct subjects (we missed the talk on the Pacific Northwest mushrooms because the room was overstuffed with people. It looked like a fire hazard to me. Just kidding).

My photos will say more than I can about the exhibit.
It was nice to finally see a matsutake (pine mushroom) up close and personal.
The green labels meant edible; the red poisonous. There were some labels that were black that said "unknown." I guess no one has dared or bothered to try those. I see that there is a yellow sign in one of my photos, but I don't remember noticing the yellow signs so I'm not sure what those mean. 

Ah the corals!

The fungi at the top of this photo were noted to be 50 years old!

This last photo was taken near our house. These Amanita muscaria are all over this one patch in various stages of development. They keep coming and coming. It's quite cool looking  and is inedible.