All Better Now

Steak, Salad, Toast

I think this might just be the worst food pic on my blog yet, although I have an excuse- Taylor took it with my camera and he has the jimmy hands.

This was the 4th of the meals I’d planned, although Taylor actually chose everything: steak, spinach salad and garlic bread. I’m not a big steak person but idk, I thought it was pretty good. Symphony LOVED it and ate all of hers, which is crazy! The salad was fine- just spinach, cherry tomatoes and feta- we did buy some dressing but forgot to use it, haha! The garlic bread was like a GARLIC SPLOSION. I didn’t buy one of those premade ones, I bought a loaf of French bread and some garlic & parsley and HAD AT IT. Unfortunately I left it until the last minute and since I was a little rushed I didn’t mince the garlic well enough so it was a little too intense. At least now I know for next time!

In ~emotional news~, I was still feeling pretty crumby today. I wasn’t mad or anything, just sad. Sad and feeling unappreciated. After work Taylor came with me to the store and we talked a little more about it and he was finally able to make me feel better about the whole situation. He helped with dinner and cleaning up afterwards, and we made plans this weekend to bake a pie (something I’ve never done myself). So everything is good again!


This weekend was half awesome/half terrible.

On Friday night Taylor and I watched several hours of season three of Damages, a show which I love but can only stand to watch in marathons. Waiting a week between episodes is just too much for me! We stayed up until one but we weren’t finished yet so we watched the last two episodes this evening before Taylor went to bed. As usual the finale was INSANELY INTENSE, and since this will probably be the last season (which sucks, because Glenn Close and Rose Byrne and basically the entire cast are AMAZING) they wrapped up a bunch of storylines dating back to the first season.

Saturday was beautiful and warm and sunny and I’m happy to say I spent most of it outside, lying in the backyard and at the playground with Sym. I tried painting outside as well but it was so hot that the paint was drying on the brush, so I gave up on that and just read and played with the local doggies instead.

Yawning Kichou

Chicken Salad Pita
Chicken Salad Pita

Saturday’s lunch was another of my planned meals. The chicken salad was made with grilled chicken cut into cubes and mixed with diced tomatoes, crumbled feta and a smidge of plain yogurt for ~sandwich lubricant~. Taylor’s and mine also had onion sprouts, but Symphony’s was sproutless. One chicken breast and one (fairly small) tomato were enough for all three of us.

On Saturday evening Taylor and I went to see Exit Through the Gift Shop, this Banksy movie (possibly a documentary) about street art. I think Taylor thought I hated it, which I didn’t. Just parts of it, and some of the people in it. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but if you make a documentary (or fake documentary, or whatever) with people who come across as annoying or irresponsible or just stupid, then OF COURSE I won’t like those parts!

Anyway after the movie we came home and walked the dog, and that was when my weekend turned into poop, so I don’t really want to talk in detail about the rest of last night or 99% of today since it’ll just upset me again. I’ll just say that there are certain negative aspects of my personality that I’ve worked very hard to change in order to improve my life and the lives of those around me, and when it’s thrown in my face that I’m still the person I used to be it really, really, really hurts, especially when it’s the person whose opinion I value above all others who’s doing the throwing, and even if they apologize over and over it doesn’t UNhurt my feelings (I don’t care how run on this sentence is). It put me into a horrible depression and I may or may not have cried while doing the dishes this afternoon. Happy Mother’s Day to me, I guess:/

Enough pity party. Symphony came home from her dad’s with a giant “card” for me, really a sheet of poster board, on which she’d drawn and glued all my “favorite things.”

Happy Mother's Day

Some Littlest Pet Shops, Deery-Lou and “wacky fingers.” I’m not sure if these are my actual favorite things but it definitely made me feel better. Once Taylor went to bed we had dinner (macaroni and cheese, it’s not a meal plan night!) and watched My Neighbor Totoro, which also cheered me up. Of course now Sym is in bed and I get to spend the rest of Mother’s Day alone, cleaning the house. Huh. I guess that pity party isn’t quite over after all! Oh and did I mention I’m getting a horribly painful eye infection, like a sty or something? Yeah. Great.

As a consolation, our team won the hockey game tonight, I’m sure in no small part due to Taylor going to bed in his Canucks jersey.


The Perfect End to the Perfect Day (Off)

Frittata, Potatoes & Salsa

Last night was Day 2 of the Four Meals Week plan, AND it was Breakfast For Dinner Night. We had mini-frittatas (I make them in a muffin tray) with goat feta, bacon and green onions, or if you are Symphony, just bacon; rosemary-garlic potatoes (these were the undercooked potatoes from Wednesday night); and fresh-cut salsa. Verdict: DELICIOUS, although Symphony missed out because the frittatas were much better with cheese than without.

After dinner I’d promised Symphony we could go to the playground.




Taylor always takes my picture when I’m making a silly face.

Then he takes my picture when I’m laughing about it.

Best (Fri)Day Ever

Last night I realized that today I would have the day off- for whatever reason NO KIDS were coming! Surprise long weekend? YES PLEASE. That meant I could skip running errands (grocery shopping, faxing boring paperwork, etc) last night since I’d have today to do them, plus I was able to change the hair appointment I’d booked for Saturday to today. Saturday is usually the only day I can go to the salon but I always feel bad about ditching out on Sym.

Foiled Again

I’d booked an appointment for highlights, since I don’t want to do all-over colour anymore. My lovely stylist Aleks had the genius idea of doing foils of what is basically my natural colour, and it worked out amazingl. You can still see some of the grey, but there is no line between roots and ends anymore- it’s all just blended together. This means I’ll be able to go even longer between colourings, plus the colour foils take a fraction of the time of bleach foils. This means way less time will be spent feeling guilty!

New Grey Roots
If you recall my old roots looked like this. The difference is clearly very subtle, but I love it!

Photo 508

… and so does Dougal.

The Lazivore’s Dilemma

I hate cooking. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that here before, but OH MY GOSH do I ever hate cooking. I hate planning meals, buying groceries, doing prep work, serving food and then cleaning it all up again afterward. I hate spending a bunch of money and making a big mess in the kitchen only to have Taylor sleep though dinner and Symphony pick at it, leaving me to eat everything, get fat and feel unappreciated.

Grocery shopping is, for me, a huge pain. We don’t have a car, so I can only buy as much food as I can carry, which means I hardly ever have anything on hand and end up going to the grocery store five times a week. It got to the point where the cashiers were calling me by name and saying “see you tomorrow!”, which made me feel very uncool. Sometimes we’ll book a Zipcar and do a big grocery shop, but that requires making a meal plan, which I really hate doing.

When we’ve gone on vacation we’ve had success with meal plans. Since all three of us are around and awake we eat all our meals together and hardly anything is wasted. During “regular” life, though, this rarely works out. Usually after a week or so I lose interest in planning meals, which means I stop grocery shopping and we run out of food. The result of this is either getting takeout every night or running to the market for something fast and easy that comes in a box. This isn’t healthy, but every time I try to fix it the same thing happens: I lose interest in planning meals & grocery shopping, we run out of food and then it’s macaroni & cheese night. Again.

Grilled Macaroni & Cheese Sandwich
Mac & Cheese Night is still acceptable in sandwich form.

After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma this past week, I really want to try again to inject some nutrition into the food I serve my family, so obviously I need a new plan. Instead of trying to plan 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners each week and getting frustrated and overwhelmed, I’ve decided to plan out the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM number of meals. The only ones the three of us eat together as a family are dinner on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and breakfast/brunch/lunch on Saturdays, so these are the only big meals I’m going to plan out and make. I really think this might work for me, since I’m less likely to get sick of planning meals if I’m only planning 4 a week instead of 21.

Obviously, my family eats more than four meals a week, but not all together and not all here. Symphony has lunch at school five days a week (she and I make her lunch, but it’s just like, sandwich/fruit or veggies/snacks), dinner at her dad’s three nights a week and breakfast there three mornings a week (she usually gets her own breakfast on the mornings she’s here). I have breakfast and lunch alone five days a week. Two nights a week Sym and I have dinner by ourselves (one of these is Tuesday and we have to eat between the time I finish work at 5:15 and the time we leave for piano at 5:45) and two nights a week Taylor and I have dinner by ourselves. Due to his schedule, Taylor rarely has breakfast or lunch or anything at all, unless I wake him up and force him to have dinner.

As you can see, planning around these RIDICULOUS scheduling requirements is basically a nightmare. Compounding everything is the fact that I hate making a big mess cooking for just myself, or myself and Symphony, because the time I have to spend cleaning up doesn’t seem worth it. Plus I’m often so tired after work that the last thing I want to do is run out to pick up groceries and cook a bunch of stuff that no one but me is going to eat anyway. These are the days I end up lazily ordering pizza or better yet, having a bag of potato chips for dinner.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been sick and feeling rundown non-stop for the last month, and for a lot of the rest of this year as well. I’m tired of being tired and unhealthy all the time, and I think it’ll really help if I start eating actual food with actual nutrition in it (I also started taking my vitamins and beloved Genuine Health Daily Detox pills regularly again).

Mmm Dinner
Baked Wild Sockeye Salmon; Sauteed Fiddleheads; Butter Lettuce Salad with Goat Feta

Last Sunday I dragged Taylor in a walk around the city looking for this elusive wrapping paper I had had the brilliant idea of decoupaging onto my ugly piano. I didn’t find any paper, but I did find what is my new favorite grocery store: Choices Market. The Yaletown location is only seven blocks from my house, but even though I’ve walked by it a bunch of times I’ve never gone in. I’ve just looked at the ~gourmet grocer~ sign and rolled my eyes at what I perceived to be pretentiousness. HOWEVER, I’d been looking high and low for Dutch process cocoa powder to make those dang peppermint patty brownie cupcakes, and when I saw Choices that day I realized that they would probably have it, which they did. I found my cocoa powder, but I also found somewhere I don’t actually hate to shop for groceries!

Choices is locally owned, with just eight stores in the Lower Mainland and Okanagan. The store itself is small- one thing I hate about the big shopping trips we do every so often is going to giant stores with eight billion options for bread and junk food that ends up overwhelming me. Not that Choices is lacking in, well, choices. They have tons of things, including stuff you’d find in a “regular” store. One thing they didn’t have was a great big aisle full of junk food (chips/pop/candy, etc). Considering my proclivity towards scrapping the whole idea of cooking and eating chips for dinner, this is AWESOME.

I decided to go down on Tuesday evening and buy the groceries I would need to make my family a proper meal on Wednesday night. I picked up wild sockeye salmon and fiddleheads, organic red potatoes and lemon, and BC-grown garlic, butter lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber. So everything was either wild, organic or semi-locally grown. I figured it would be more expensive than the stores I usually shop at, but the total came to just $25. Every time I go into one of the regular stores I end up spending $40 or $50 on stuff to make a pre-packaged meal and a bunch of junk food to eat later after I am unsatisfied and hungry again. The last time I bought wild salmon at Safeway it was $18 just for the fish!

The salmon I topped with fresh-ground “rainbow pepper” (black, white & red peppercorns mixed together), minced garlic and slices of lemon, then wrapped in parchment paper and baked.
Mmm Salmon

The fiddleheads I sautéed with extra virgin olive oil and a little pepper.
Mmm Fiddleheads

For the salad I added some peas I already had and some goat cheese feta Taylor picked up to the lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes and tossed it all with fresh-squeezed juice from the 3/4 of the lemon that didn’t get sliced for the salmon (I dislike 90% of salad dressing and usually just use lemon juice).
Mmm Salad
check out my sweet salad hands in action

My awesome home cooked meal definitely did not leave me, or anyone, unsatisfied. Even Symphony, who is super picky, ate all her salmon and 2 helpings of salad. She even tried the fiddleheads, although she didn’t like them (she still gets points for trying them though). I think the only person who was disappointed by the outcome of this meal was Dougal, because he didn’t get any.

Why I No Get Any Fish?

You might have noticed that I listed organic potatoes as one of the things I bought for this meal, but clearly they weren’t in it. One of my biggest failings as a cook is timing it correctly so that everything is done at the same time, and unfortunately the potatoes were way underdone when everything else was ready. I decided to skip them for this meal, and instead save them for hash browns on breakfast for dinner night or to top a shepherd’s pie or something. But. Get this: I LEFT OUT the starchy, filling potatoes, and everyone was still full and satisfied by the meal! I chalk this up as a HUGE success, and I think that as long as I stick to my Four-Meals-a-Week plan, I can keep making delicious and healthy food for myself and my family.

What I’ve Been Reading

It’s been a while since I had one of these posts, but I guess that’s what happens when you read something other than young adult novels for a change!


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks31/104

WOW. What a fantastic book! The author, Rebecca Skloot, does an amazing job of uncovering the history of Henrietta Lacks, a woman who died in 1951, but whose cells (the first human cells successfully cultured) still live and grow in labs across the world, as well as telling the story of her descendants. Parts of this book are horrifying, such as when the author and Deborah, Henrietta’s youngest daughter, discover the awful conditions of that Deborah’s older sister lived in at the Crownsville Hospital for the Negro Insane in the five years before she died there, or the details of the abuse Henrietta’s younger children suffered after she passed away. Actually, a lot of this book is really sad and deals with all sorts of pre-Civil Rights racism, but still, an amazing and well-written book.


The Omnivore’s Dilemma32/104

This book took me what felt like FOREVER to read, especially to first part about corn. Corn corn corn. However it was interesting overall and did get me thinking about the sort of food I serve my family and myself (which will be made evident in an upcoming post about my new favorite grocery store & the awesome meal I made from the stuff I bought there). Of course, as a Canadian, my own personal food experience is different from an American’s; namely, we don’t make everything out of HFCS, so some of the horrification of the industrial food system doesn’t apply to me. It did get me excited about farmer’s market season starting though!

Currently we are just under 18 weeks into the year and I’ve read 32 books, which puts me a few books behind my 2 book a week pace, but I’m confident I can catch up!

The Seventh Space & Outer Space

I have finally filled my seventh child care space! I only had room for a child 4 or older, and those spaces are always the hardest to fill. Most people who put their kids in daycare do so when they are one (we get 50 weeks maternity leave in Canada), so most people who want their preschool-age kid in a family child care want them in the family child care they’ve been in since they were a baby. Generally I fill these spaces with people who have just moved here, either from the suburbs or another country- I’ve had kids from Bulgaria, Japan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The new kid, CF, is a five-year-old girl. She was actually supposed to start this week but she has a bad cough so her dad postponed. They moved down here from the interior of BC last year (I think) but CF hasn’t been in another child care- she’s been in Children’s Hospital battling liver cancer.

Her doctor just gave him the go-ahead to put her in daycare (and register her for kindergarten in September), and when her dad called me last week and asked to come by so we could meet & discuss the possibility of his daughter coming her, he told me about her medical history so that when I met her I wouldn’t wonder why she was bald (she actually has a slightly fuzzy head like a little baby chicken). Everyone knows tiny little kids with terrible diseases is basically the saddest thing ever, but let me tell you, CT is not someone you need to coddle or pity. If a human being could be an exploding firecracker, that’s her. They stayed for about an hour, her dad and I talking and going through paperwork and CT and Symphony playing. The whole time she was just cheerful energetic giggles running jumping fun. She actually wore Symphony out- when they left I realized she hadn’t practiced her piano yet so I gave her a choice: do it then or do double practice the next day. She chose double practice the next day (who choose DOUBLE PIANO PRACTICE???) and went straight to bed AND straight to sleep!

In mural news, I am SO HAPPY with how everything is turning out. On the weekend I finished the outlines on the first seven planets:
Seven Down
… and I literally (as in the paint is still wet) just finished Saturn as well:
I also finally started the Sun:
Sun Progress
… as well as the Earth and Mini-Mecha-Fawn:
Earth & Mini-Mecha-Fawn Progress
I know these aren’t looking very impressive yet but don’t forget, the other eight paintings used to look like this. What a difference eight million layers of paint applied with a teeny-tiny fiddly brush makes, right?

Also: I know this blog has been a real snore lately, and I apologize. I’ve actually been sick and really drained for the last month and basically all I do is work-paint-sleep-repeat, which doesn’t really make for an exciting variety of posts.

Shelves, Sort Of

Shelves, Sort of

Finally, some shelves in my library! These are actually for dvds/blu-rays, not books, but at least it’s a start! Of course, in spite of my best efforts I’m not finished this “weekend” project yet. I need to find some no-shelf-space-taking-up bookends to stop things from falling off the end, and as you can see by the big gap in the middle, I need to put up a couple more shelves. Unfortunately the store I got the brackets from didn’t have enough (I need four more) and all the other same-size brackets I could find had a slightly different hole alignment, but I already drilled the walls and put in the anchors and just argh. So now I have to try to find the same brackets elsewhere, or wait for the original store to restock. GREAT.
Symphony Practicing her Piano
My library is actually a library-slash-music room, as evidenced by Symphony and her piano. I still haven’t picked up a non-slip underpad for my Birds of a Feather rug so right now it lives on the bench.