Change of pace – for now

Hello, The Internet!!

I think you will have noticed by now that I’m not regularly posting new Newfoundland pictures since the first post. I have a second post partly finished and a few more in plannign stages. The thing is, there are lots of photots. No, really – looooooooooots. And Blogger, well, let’s just say their photo uploader leaves a whole fuckload something to be desired. So I’ve given up for now – you’ll have to wait unitl next week (or possibly even longer – baking/cooking projects coming up for next week!!) for more Newfoundland goodness. Cause I was about to punch a hole in my nice (and almost new) Mac, which might have been cathartic, but would have ended up being pretty expensive (what with the buying a new computer and the reconstructive surgery on my hand. . .).

But there is another new project I’m going to be starting in the near future (just waiting for a package to arrive in the mail) that I want to share with you now. I have a couple of weddings to attend this summer and I’m planning on making a dress I might be able to wear to one of them (if it turns out to be wearable, of course). My inspiration is a vintage dress I saw on an Etsy shop (Dear Golden Vintage) but with rather different fabric choices (wait and see!). I have a pattern that approximates the one I want to end up with and I think with a few easy modifications, I’ll get the dress I want.

I love vintage clothes, and I have a pretty 50s silhouette so vintage and I get along pretty well. The only problem being most things that are actually vintage won’t come in my size (I’m not petite, in any dimension – thanks Eastern European peasantry ancestors!). I could have just bought the dress (though, a bit pricey), but it was something like 4 dress-sizes too small. No thanks, I don’t need the stab to the gut and self-recrimination. I could also have gone the dressmaker route. I did in fact do that with the dress I’m going to wear for the first wedding (just two weeks – the summer is realy flying by, isn’t it?). That was inspired by another dress I saw in the same Etsy store – I tried to find it but it’s apparently vanished 😦 That one was a pale silver metallic strapless dress, with a sweetheart neckline and a really cool obi-style belt – I can’t wait to show you photos, Dear Internet!! It was just too complicated a task for me to tackle (boning??? no thanks), and the dressmaker I found was very good and really easy to work with. The next time I come accross a dress I’d like made for me, I’m definitely going back to her! The dress I’m going to attempt has a pretty basic shape and I’m pretty handy with a sewing machine, so hopefully I’ll do ok. I also got a whole bunch of basic broadcloth to make a mock up (with modifications) so I can attempt the dress and not muck up the pretty fabric I got, also sort out how I’m going to do things. Like putting in invisible zippers. Which I’ve never done before. . . 

I’m really looking forward to this project. It’s been a while since I’ve  made any clothes for myself, and it’ll be nice to work on those skills again – maybe even start to make more clothing, instead of always buying it. I’ve been really inspired by a few new blog finds of mine: Adventures in Dressmaking, and Kittyzilla’s Handmade Stuffs which have really started me thinking about getting back into sewing again. Clothes as well as embroidery.

I’m excited to start this little journey! How about you, Dear Internet? Start any new projects lately?

I can’t wait for the fabric to arrive 😀


Quite the delay. . .

Oooohhhhhkaaaayyyyy. . .
A litany of woes, excuses, and a dash of lazy thrown in for good measure equals a week since the last post, the last post which was supposed to be posted two weeks prior to when it did go up. But I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll just say that suddenly being unable to sleep more than three hours at a time really screws up your productivity. Also, weather system pressure changes really suck.
And now my first post about the wonderful Newfoundland trip!! And a few photos, for some eye candy.
The trip started out auspiciously enough – I was getting a ride to the airport at 5:15 on a Saturday morning, so I had spent the last few days organizing and packing everything I’d need. And even though I know I set my alarm to go off in plenty of time to shower and finish up with getting ready to go. . . I was woken by my ride sending me a text that he was on his way (and he lives about 5 minutes away.) Crap. But I’m so organized it only takes me 7 and a half minutes to get down and load my stuff into the car. Luckily I’d had a shower the afternoon before (after swimming). From there on in, not a hitch: flight was smooth (even a large number of children wasn’t an issue. I guess their parents intelligently knocked them out for the flight or something), and we landed in St. John’s on time. The next hitch appeared in the form of (drumroll please) the rental. There were going to be six of us staying in the cottage together, so we needed something that could hold not only us, but all our luggage. So the car came in at 300$ more than the original quote, and we were only getting 100 km a day. In Newfoundland. Which is 111,390 square kilometres. . . And it would be 20¢ for every additional kilometre (just so you know, we did fairly spectacularly exceed our kilometre limit. . . more on that at a later date). And the cottage we were staying at is about an hour and a half south of St. John’s. . . Just awesome.
But that’s just the first few hours of our trip. We then went grocery (and, more importantly, booze) shopping to get stuff for the week, and then started on our way to the cottage. Nothing earth shattering happened on the drive down, though we almost missed Renews (the village where we were supposed to be staying). Our fearless leader called our local contact (I don’t know if you know the stereotypical Newfoundland accent? Well, he had it, and we were all seriously hard-pressed to understand anything he actually said. . . You should have heard how he pronounce ‘foggy’. Which was probably only as hysterical as it was since it was me and five gay men staying at the cottage. . .), but we eventually found the cottage, and got in. 
It was tiny. In the diminutive sense – 6.5 foot ceilings. . . (maybe 7′, but it didn’t look it). Adequately sized kitchen (though lacking in counter space, but hey – it’s a fricking cottage), tiny dining room and tv/living room completes  the first floor. And there are three tiny bedrooms and a good-sized bathroom. I was going to share a room with one of the others – a bunk bed. But it was a kid’s bed. And the ceilings were lower upstairs. . . They ended up sleeping on the couch downstairs. . . For some reason. 
Also – there was a pretty impressive colony of pill bugs infesting the building. Local colour.
That pretty much sums up what I remember of the first day (we went for a little walk to the harbour, and had some dinner, and then discovered the incredible uncomfortableness of the beds. . .)
Now that I’ve gotten you excited, here are some photos!!
View near Renews
very picturesque 🙂
coastal village shot (from observation platform tourism thingy)
Our little saltbox has a pedigree?? oh, wait, 2007?
red clover
Queen Anne’s Lace
view of the cottage (looks much bigger than it is. . .)
Renews Harbour
starfish (poor thing)
local church (RC)
St. Mary’s shrine (slightly creepy when come upon at night
with the crosses all glowing. . .)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I did focus a little on the negative (see above. . .), but I don’t want you to get the wrong impression – I loved it there. I cannot wait to go back!! There were rough spots (and I am surprised we were able to spend a week together, all six of us, in that diminutive building and not axe murder each other), but there were also very special moments. And billions more photos yet to come. So, Dear Internet, fear not. I won’t be a misery monger about the whole trip. And I’ll try to stay light-hearted about the mishaps instead of whiny.
But, wildlife, hijinks, mishaps, and wonder galore are headed your way! And probably a whole post devoted to the flower porn from our visit to St. John’s botanical garden (in amazingly named Pippy Park!). So many pretty flowers, so little time (and too crappy a camera to really do them justice).
Been anywhere new lately, Dear Internet?
By the way – why did it take me so long to start listening to Mumford and Sons?? Crazy me.

This week, in baking. . . part 3

Okay, The Internet, it’s technically a week later two weeks later (oooops . . .). But I’m not made of time, so unfortunately this post had to wait a little looooong time before I could get around to it. Aaaaaaand. . . UPDATE! Also, I just went on a week long vacation to Newfoundland! Billions of photos to come 🙂

This past week A few weeks ago, I made those delectable granola bars, several tasty strawberry quick breads, and this. On Saturday (that is, two weeks ago, now), in preparation of a Settlers of Catan games night at a friend’s place, I made this beautiful cake. The apple yoghurt coffee cake from The New Spanish Table (which I got from Smitten Kitchen, of course). Because I just had to try a coffee cake with lots of apples, lemon yoghurt, olive oil (!), and sambuca. I LOVE anise-flavoured anything, so I jumped on the chance to use it in something. 



action shot!! whiskage! (my sister took this picture, my hands were in use)

adding the flour

sambuca!!! or is that olive oil? i forget. . .

tasty shredded apple goodness

about to undergo a chemical change


And it was also eated, eated aaaaaalll up! I was surprised at the flavour – very mild but satisfying, with a something different you couldn’t really put your finger (or should I say, your tastebuds?) on. I think using olive oil was more of an exciting taste sensation than the sambuca, so if you’re not a fan of the licorice/anise thing, Dear Internet, you could probably substitute whatever liqueur you think would work well (Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and dark spiced rum come to mind as good options. Apple brandy might work too). You can probaby also swap out for different flavours of yogurt if you felt like it, but I thought the lemon really made the apple flavours sing. Definitely recommended!! I can’t wait for a reason to make this one again!!


Now, you might have noticed, Dear Internet, that I said that I was in Newfoundland for a week. And that there are billions of photos coming your way (seriously, I just spent an hour organizing photos for you. . .). But not today. I’m afraid that here in my lovely hometown, we’re having a heat wave and I do not handle heat well (or at all), so I’m feeling pretty gross at the moment. I might even have gotten a mild case of heat stroke from one un-airconditioned subway ride on Monday. . . But hopefully now that the organizing has been done, the blogging with follow swiftly. If I don’t end up feeling worse tomorrow when it’s supposed to go up to 37 (feeling like 45, or something evil like that). Cause it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity that’ll kill ya. There will even be a few oblique references to baking! That’s on theme right??

Seriously, it’s mostly going to be flowers. I have a weird obsession with the macro function on my not-too-awesome digital camera. So be prepared.

Now, my Dear Internet, it’s time for me to have a bit of dinner, a nice cup of (cold) tea, and to go to bed and sleep off this ickiness. I hope you’re handling the heat better than me.

Just by the way. . .

I’m sorry to say this, Dear Internet, but I cooked a very tasty meal of two new recipes for me (waaaaaayyyyy too late – i.e. I’m still eating it. . .) this evening, and while busy with the task I neglected to take any photos. But, in my defense, I’ve been awake since 6 AM, I have eaten very little today, and I went to spin class after work (for the first time in a while – I’ve been mostly swimming after work lately). So the hunger, it had to be obeyed.

I can say that they were both (surprise surprise) from Smitten Kitchen’s archives. I’m pretty sure that I’m seriously addicted to that blog now. You might need to stage an intervention to save me from myself. (INTERVENTION!! INTERVENTION!!! Please tell me you get that joke, The Internet. . .) Check out the recipes – I definitely recommend you try them!

And I will be relishing the left-overs, that’s for sure 🙂

I did make a few changes, of course, to suit my own peculiar tastes – I added jalapeño to both, as well as apple and lime (zest and juice –  the Flavour Gods, they demand it) to the slaw; I used honey and grainy mustard in the slaw dressing, and only used 1 cup of mayo; I used cumin and an Italian herb mix instead of just thyme, and added a few cloves of garlic for depth of flavour. Also, going to the 24-hour market made the choices of produce rather slim and I had to use baby spinach instead of escarole (soooo tasty!) and red kidney beans instead of white. 

I’m definitely looking forward to attempting these recipes again sometime, and playing some more with the flavours. Especially if I can go grocery shopping at an intelligent time and thus can go to a store that has more than four aisles.

Well, my barley risotto is finally an eatable temperature, so I’m going to finish my dinner and go to bed. 

I hope you had a lovely day, Dear Internet. Did you try anything new today?


Ok, The Internet, I know this blog has been rather more heavily slanted toward the food end of the blogging spectrum that I originally proposed.And this post won’t fully rectify that discrepancy, but I’d like to actually start talking about the music in my life. Shock!

Last night A couple nights ago (ooops. . . forgot to finish this post yesterday. . .), I went over to a friend’s house for a Settlers of Catan games night (awesome game, by the way – if you at all like board games, check it out!). There was too much food, too much alcohol (if that’s even possible), and some lovely music. Which reminded me that I’ve been super derelict in my duty to make this a blog about music, as well as baking. Though, I should take a moment to tell you that part of that too much food I just mentioned was a cake that I baked, from the archives of the lovely Smitten Kitchen. Which everyone enjoyed (yay!) and there will be a new blog post on the making-of that delightful confection to come in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled for that one!!

But back to music – after the game (where the person who’d never played or seen the game before was the winner. . . we were soft on him. That’s right we let him win to make him like the game more. Next time it’ll be different), we all congregated in the living room and listened to a recording of the piece of music our fearless leader wanted to look at. (This of course is for the quintet I sing with, not the Sunday choir.)

We might have finished singing for the season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start preparing for the next one. We’ve been having soprano issues for a while now – our first (and the closest to our hearts) ended up not being able to sing on Wednesdays (the day we sing) because of work (and then eventually ended up moving back east to be closer to her family this past December.) Then was the month of trying to figure out not having a soprano (while awesome, four (or more)-part harmony is the best so we ran through a few until we found a great singer with whom we had a really good blend (and, incidentally, helped me to become more confident in my own voice, which also helped the blend). But her work was making it harder and harder to justify taking a whole evening out of her schedule, and at the end of the year she decided that, though she’ll help out when we need her, she can’t come back full-time in the fall. Our fearless leader has gotten in touch with one of the sopranos we’ve had sing with us as a sub before, but she’s not sure yet if she can do it. She has a sister who might be able to, and another sub we’ve had might work out. But it’s all up in the air right now. Sigh 😦

That’s a really long-winded way of saying “We practiced a piece for 4-part lower voices” – specifically, Vicotria’s Duo Seraphim, arranged for TTBB, in case we need to have a few weeks of soprano-free services. Luckily I am an alto with a pretty decent three-octave range, and the first tenor part doesn’t really challenge the lower end at all. And after listening to the piece, we actually ran through it (sight-singing 101) a couple of times. And I felt like I had finally come home. It’s only been a few weekes since singing wrapped up for the season, so I hadn’t realized how much I really missed it.

We weren’t perfect, and I don’t think the large amount of alcohol I consumed was too helpful here either. . . But it was still heavenly. I’ll have to start carving out a chunk of time each week to keep in practice, as well as to learn some new music we’ll be adding to our repertoire in the fall.


I hope you’ll bear with me for a moment, but I have something I need to get off my chest about the singing I do. As I said in one of my first posts, I have been singing since I was 6 or so. Somehow I ended up in the junior choir at my church – my Dad’s been big into music his whole life and his parents before him, so it’s not too surprising I ended up singing. So I grew up in a choir, and absorbed a love of choral music by osmosis. I might not have had any classical training, but “singing my whole life, pretty much” is nothing to sneeze at in terms of experience.

That being said, we have a choir master/organist (CM/O) who doesn’t trust us. Over the last few years, I have begun to really notice this problem, especially since I also now sing in a very small group where we literally have to trust each other or it’ll just fall to little bitty pieces. We also sing everything a capella, so we occasionally go flat or sharp – but we go flat or sharp together because we’re actually blending with the voices we’re singing with. On Sundays, our CM/O plays the organ (unfortunately very loudly) while we sing (even ahem especially for pieces that are supposed to be a capella), and plays the piano very loudly during rehearsals. We can’t hear each other, how can we blend? If we go flat (which we occasionally do, cause hey! we’re actually human. Surprise surprise), the sections of the choir can’t hear each other, can’t blend with each other, so we end up singing in different keys (on the most spectacular failures). And then CM/O gets frustrated with us and plays the right chord at us really loudly right after we’re finished singing. Might as well just scream “Hey!! You guys sound like shit!” And the more she plays loudly with us, the less confident we are in our blend, and more problems crop up. . . It’s been really hard to go from one group that sings with trust and challenges us to try new (and sometimes scary hard) music, to one where our CM/O will tell us how rests work. . . I know you want consistency, but thanks so much for the patronizing, it really makes me feel great.

Another issue is the kind of voices she prefers: Operatic voices. And this is a choir, apparently. So, having a nice little choral voice in this choir has given me a really big problem of trusting my own voice – for a long time I thought my voice was crap, because of this CM/O. Insecurity issues. But, do you know how hard it is to sing, and sing your best, in a choir where you know your sklls aren’t really appreciated? If I hadn’t started singing on Wednesdays, I’d still be under the impression that I was a useless member of the choir. In addition to giving me an inferiority complex, the kind of singers our CM/O prefers make it really hard to have a choir that blends – operatic singers don’t blend (some just can’t), and in many cases they have voices that are massively huge, which is another barrier to good blending.

And I like our CM/O – she’s quite a good keyboardist and composer. She’s a really interesting person to talk to. I’m just getting to the point where I don’t know if I can actually stay in this choir for much longer. I’ve been saying this for a while now (and the boyfriend will just sigh and shake his head since he’s heard it a bunch of times before), but I might soon be leaving the choir I’ve been singing with for the past 22-or-so years. And that’s really very scary – what if I can’t find a new choir with people I like as much (especially since I have such a hard time warming to people anyway) and who sing as much great music (even if we do fairly often sing the same things over and over again)?

What if I can’t find a choir that would like to have me??

I have the summer to think about these things, and maybe look into finding a voice teacher (if I have a reliable source of income at some point) to help me potentially get into a more professional choir. I don’t know what I’ll do, but I’m already sad at the idea that maybe this is the end of something that’s been such a huge part of my life.

Any thoughts, Dear Internet?

This week, in baking. . . part 2

If you think back to sometime this past week, you’ll remember me talking about all the tasty foods I was making. You saw the loveliness that was thick, chewy granola bars, and now I’ll share with you a really lovely strawberry quick bread that takes beautiful advantage of the excess of perfect (and local) strawberries we buy too much of at this time of year. There were suddenly two, yes two whole pintsof excess strawberries sitting around in the fridge slowly subsiding into sad mediocrity. Because, as lovely as fresh strawberries are, you can only have so many before you groan and bloat with the pleasure of it. Well, that’s my experience, anyway.I got the recipe from this cookbook.

great cookbook – awesome cause!

The Stop is a food bank here in my lovely city, and they do more than just provide food for those that need it. They also have community gardens where they teach people about growing food, as well as how to choose the most nutritious options available. And they have school programs teaching kids about food – where it comes from, how it’s made, as well as food prep. Buy a copy! Buy 20!! You must have people in your life who like good cookbooks, Dear Internet.

where it all began
what a lovely little strawberry!
ummmm. . . not so lovely. poor mutant
smash!! smassshhh!!!!
when you smash them, they get liquidy!
mixing in the eggs
action shot!!
dry ingredients!

I’d like to take a moment to make you all aware of something – baking soda and baking powder do not keep indefinitely. Which made itself known in this recipe. So either use up your soda and powder really quickly (I know I do my best on this front), or buy in as small a quantity as possible. You’ll see why in a minute.

milky goodness
adding the cooked smashed berries
which makes the batter baby pink.
slightly disturbing. . .
tins are filled and ready to bake

You might not be able to tell from this photo, because I took it specifically to hide the fact that these loaves didn’t rise properly, but the loaves they didn’t rise properly. Poop. The baking soda and baking powder didn’t do their job. Unsurprisingly, as I’d just gotten to the end of the baking powder. Ah well, it still tasted veeeerrrryy nice.

Just goes to show you, looks ain’t everything.

They matter (not that much though – don’t be shallow, Dear Internet!), don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s just not that important. Especially with tasty tasty baked goods.

Okay, Dear Internet, I’m very tired and I need to go to beddybies. See? Veeery tired. . . I hope you have a good sleep and sweet dreams my friend.

And now for something completely different!

Ok, I just want to take a miniature break from the immense amount of baked goods (what, this is a food blog of some kind? No. . . ), to share some pretty pictures.

I love this time of year for not only the amazing, fresh, and local produce you can get, but also for the immense amount of burgeoning floral activity in the garden. What with work and exercising a whole lot, I haven’t had a lot of time to actually do any gardening, or to really appreciate what has been going on in the garden.

So here are some pictures of the pretty flowers growing like mad in the garden!

I hope you enjoy the pretty flower pictures, Dear Internet. But rest assured, there is much baked goods ogling yet to come!

Also, I went to a vineyard with a friend on my lovely day off this long weekend, so I’ll have to share some photos of that with you. Maybe someday I’ll actually start talking about music too. . .

This week, in baking. . . part 1

Hello, The Internet!
I said that I’d be posting some more this weekend, and here’s one of them. Let’s see if I can get all of the posts I wanted up by the end of the weekend – but I’m pretty sure that I’ll only get two of the four done by the end of this weekend. I’m working this weekend, and for some reason that takes up a lot of time that I could be spending blogging. Ah well. You’ll get them when you get them.
Let’s look at the making of. . . Thick, chewy granola bars!! I, of course made a few alterations, as well as two – that’s right, two – different flavours. One used dried cherries and blueberries, maple syrup, white chocolate chips, and apple butter. And the other used the same dried fruit, buckwheat honey, hazelnut butter, and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
mmmmm apple butter. . .
mmmmmm hazlenut butter. . .
My only excuse is that I had to try apple butter but I wasn’t sure it would work out using that instead of a nut butter. The irony being that the apple butter granola bars ended up working out better than the hazelnut butter ones – though that might have been also due to not cooking them quite long enough to set fully (see note below) . . . Live and learn. I’ll just have to make several more batches of granola bars to see how different flavours and ingredients work. It’s a hard knock life, isn’t it?
Now, a string of photos of creating the bars!
gathering ingredients and preparing the tins
mixing dry ingredients
 Just a quick note – I used a bit less than half a cup of dark brown sugar, instead of the 1/2-3/4 of a cup of white sugar. I dislike overly sweet anythings, and dark brown sugar has so much more character than white that I thought I could get away with less than the required amount of sugar. And the bars were still a little bit too sweet. Though, if I made the bars without chocolate, the amount of sweetness probably would have been perfect.
measuring out the tasties
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon?? Hah! That’s a
heaping teaspoon for you
mixing the yumbly stuffs together
pouring out some buckwheat honey
action shot! whisking the wet ingredients
adding the hazelnut butter
squooshing it all into the pan
ready to bake (über-blurry. . . wheee)
I tried something arty. Didn’t work
A second note – notice the closer square is less evenly golden-brown? The tin I used was slightly smaller than the other, and so the squares were a bit thicker than the first batch. My inner-expert-baker was having a nap and this didn’t occur to me as an issue until I was starting to cut the squares. . .
listen to the original recipe – use a
serrated, not sharp, knife
They weren’t the prettiest bars – I should have waited to cut them until after they were thoroughly cooled. But they were certainly tasty. After giving some to my friend, and some to the boyfriend, we have very little left today, only a few days after they were made.

Yup. Two left. Oh wait, I ate one. . . So just one left now.
And I have lists of ideas for other flavour combinations. I can’t wait! Two more baking projects to share with you, Dear Internet, coming up in the near future. I hope you’re having a phenomenal weekend!

My new hiking boots

I decided that I’ll work in chronological order, to publish all the things I’ve been accumulating this past week.

Ever since I bought my new hiking boots (squeee!) I’ve been raring to go on a hike and start breaking them in, and three weeks later, the opportunity finally presented itself. My schedule and the boyfriend’s never seemed to match up, and I generally prefer to go with someone. And very few people I know seem to be as über-excited about hiking as me, or the boyfriend. Also, life is full of stuff to do, so hiking was tossed onto the back-burner for a little while.
But last Sunday, we finally got our hike on. And it was marvelous. The weather cooperated, it was cloudy but no pouring of rain happened, and partway through the day the sun came out. Temperature was perfect as well – just right for a vigorous walk. We might have over-done it, just slightly, as we set out around 1 and got back after 7. . . And boy my legs and feet were tired. Not sore though – those boots I chose were a pretty smart investment. I have to get used to how rigid the sole is, and after 4 hours or so, I started to notice a little bit of chaffing on my left ankle. But how many shoes can you say that about? I think these will work out pretty darn well.
Now, photos!!!
I love how my city has these hidden pocket of semi-wilderness. During the hike, every so often I completely forgot that I was in the middle of a really big city, full of lots and lots of people. We might not have easy access to purple mountain majesty or wild and untamed forest, but a 10 minute walk from the boyfriend’s apartment and we were urban hiking. I have no excuses for the quality of the river – there are many beautiful waterways on this continent, and this is not one of them. Though it is apparently a whole lot cleaner than 100 years ago, so that’s some progress. I guess 😦
And now that that’s done (I really hate the brute force photo uploader you have, Blogger. . . No customization options?? Lame), I’m going to go to sleep – it’s been a loooong day, and I never had that nap I wanted.
But now there are four more blog posts soon to be coming your way, with a third completely new baking project coming up this lovely long weekend. Another new recipe from Smitten Kitchen, of course. Awesome!!
Stay beautiful, Mother Nature, and I hope you’re having a wonderful long weekend, Dear Internet.