Category Archives: Daily Blog

50 Cheap Dates

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Perhaps I shouldn’t advertise that I’m a pretty cheap date.  But it’s true.  Anything that starts with b and ends in ‘eer’ will get me to the table.  You can get a second date at the slightest suggestion of ice cream.  And yes, I do believe Mr. Beardpants secured me as his full-time live-in lady over several days worth of apple pie for breakfast.

I bore easily.  Even with ample nourishment and internet access to zombie shows.  And despite having a house full of books, craft projects and other forms of entertainment, I’m always nagging suggesting that we go out and do something new.  Mr. Beardpants and I have spent an excessive a lot of time together, in particular, over the last year where we have been living and working together.  And I think it’s important in any relationship to try and switch things up or at the very least move the conversation away from work.  Those of you who work with your significant other will know what I’m talking about.  If you spend most of your meals making fun of your boss or plotting the next days enormous load of overwork…than it’s time to start picking away at this list of 50 Cheap Dates.

Quite a few of these suggestions are date ideas we’ve put into action and some are dates I’m hoping to stroll out of my house for soon (hint: Mr. Beardpants! I know you’re reading.  And Mwah..i loves ya).  And I’ve included a number of date ideas that you can do at home.  These will be particularly good for couples with kids who can’t secure a babysitter, have stretched the budget already to the limit and/or have started to forget that they have names other than Mom and Dad.

1. Check out a local museum.  (Some even have a free day or regular free evening.)
2. Pack a picnic and go for a long bike ride.
3. Settle in for a themed movie marathon.  My preference would be the entire Die Hard series with ample servings of popcorn and shoutings of yippee-ki-yay-mother-***bleep.
4. Search online or through some cookbooks scored at the library and try out a new recipe together.
5. Plan a board game night and invite some losers…ahem, I meant other players…to join.  And remember…nobody likes a loser.
6. Create a picnic in your own backyard.  Complete with candles and intoxicating bug spray.
7. Go for a night of browsing and tea drinking in your local bookstore.
8. Do a tour of local vintage/junk shops.
9. Go treasure hunting through Saturday morning garage sales.  Don’t forget the coffee and junk wish list!
10.  Play tourist in a nearby town.  (Millbrook…I hear you have a good bakery and I’m coming to see you).
11. Check out your local art gallery or search for an artists cooperative
12. Create a mini map or brochure and do a walking tour of local attractions.
13. Rent a canoe.  (You know what they say…the paddle test is the ultimate relationship tester.  And if you can manage a strenuous portage without fighting…I think you’re gonna be just fine).
14. Go to the library and select a book for each other.
15.  Grab a deck of cards or a chess board and head to your favourite pub or coffee shop.
16.  Take $5 each to a local thrift store and buy a surprise for your partner.
17.  Visit a local winery or farm.
18.  Buy some inexpensive art supplies and create a masterpiece together.
19.  Take a stroll through your local farmer’s market and plan a ‘local’ meal.
20.  Grab your camera and head out for a photography hike.
21. Plan a mini one night escape and stay at a local campsite
22.  Borrow some fishing gear and head to a local fishing spot.
23.  Plan and build a piece of furniture together.
24.  Find a local festival.
25.  Attend a matinee.
26.  Check out a local band.
27.  Go indoor rock climbing
28.  Plan and create a chocolate tasting night
29.  Make homemade bread together (than stand around looking smug while stuffing your faces with fresh bread smothered in butter.  Trust me, the smugness is necessary)
30. Go for a late night full moon hike or snowshoe.  ( complete this by packing a beer or two, some wine and/or a thermos full of your favourite hot beverage.)
31.  Plan an at-home fondue night  (nothing saves love like swiss cheese)
32.  Serve up some breakfast in bed.
33.  Create a fort in your living room and tuck in for a movie with s’mores.
34.  Make ice cream sundaes.
35.  Go for a swim.  Pool.  Lake.  River.  Puddle.  You choose.
36.  Volunteer at a local event or for a local organization together.
37.  Visit your local zoo
38.   Bowling.  If only for the ridiculous shoes.
39.   Create a city wide treasure hunt
40.  Mix margharitas and hang a hammock.
41.  Go house hunting.  (and my preference…pretend you can afford a house!).
42.  Make finger foods, light some candles, set up some comfy cushions and snuggle in to read.
43.  Try some lessons together.
44.  Create an at home spa night (there is likely no man on earth who wants to actually do this by the way.  But there’s always hope).
45.  Write a bucket list together.
46.  Plan a fantasy vacation or plan a realistic super low budget awesome adventure.
47.  Train for a race together or run in a local fundraiser.
48.  Check out some local theatre (last year we brought a picnic to a Shakespeare in the park performance).
49.  Visit a local bakery.
50.  Nothing saves lovin’ like mini putt.

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Things That Can Break

vintage typewriter suitcase

moving boxes

Wondering if I can wear a goiter with style.

These days I’m forced to recognize that ‘control’ may be more illusion or perspective than reality.  That my body (despite being properly fed, nurtured, treated delicately and exercised appropriately) might still do its own thing.

I am edgy today.  Irritated at the bags under my eyes, the ease of exhaustion, the swelling in my throat and the persistent pain in my back….my hips…my feet…my hands.

Moving forward…movement in general…is what is best.  The quiet numbing slosh of the water at the pool as I go from one end of the lane to the other.  The scrape of the skate blades on the freshly cleared ice.  If I sit for too long I may stay that way, suspended.

This morning I started to pack the boxes.  Started the process of putting everything temporarily on hold until we unpack again.  A familiar, but now completely uninteresting process.    I have moved enough times now that there is no longer any excitement in it for me, but luckily also no hesitation.  No longer that sense of sitting on the edge of something new…some unknown potential…some brief glimpse of opportunity.

There is always the uncertainty.  But even that I have gotten used to.  I don’t know where I’ll work…if I’ll make new friends…if I’ll find old or new patterns to follow….if this place will be better or worse than the last.  For now I will simply not know.  You have to sit with that.  There is no other choice.  No prediction.  No way of reading the future.

I am a master now at address changes.  All of our worldly belongings can be unloaded by two of us in under an hour.  I panicked briefly about labeling boxes and than quickly realized it’s not as necessary as it seems.

Next friday, a pizza box…perhaps a bottle or two of beer…and that strange hollow echo of a place not yet your own.

What to Wear: Ladies Night!

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Seriously, are you going to take fashion advice from me?  Maybe you should take it with a grain of salt.  I may very well be the least fashionable person I know.  For one thing, I almost never buy clothes.  And most of the time I’m covered in dirt or cleaning chemicals from work.  Dressed to impress…janitors!

But you see I’ve been enjoying reading all the other ‘What to Wear’ posts so much that I thought it might be fun to join up.  And I’ve got this little itty bitty resolution to get over the whole ‘no, don’t take my photo’ thing.  Plus I thought it might give me an excellent excuse to slip out of my work clothes from time to time and dolly myself up.

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The theme this time around is Ladies Night.  Honestly, the last time I went out with my ladies was in the summer.  We live and work on a 500 acre property surrounded by fence and we almost never go anywhere.  So Ladies Night for me typically involves a cold bottle of beer and woodworking out in the shop. But you see, we are preparing to return to social life.  So instead of showing you my shop clothes (which I was wearing five minutes before I took these photos), I thought I’d show you the outfit I put together for Valentine’s Day (where yes, we did indeed go out…and it was fabulous).

I rushed in, threw on the outfit and grabbed my camera (but there was no one home to help with the photo shoot).  Technical difficulties.  We live in what feels like a storage space.  There are only three windows across two floors and the most unforgiving fluorescent lights.  I actually might have been better off trying to take these photos in the garage.  But anyways…I promise the photos will get better (our new place has tons o’ windows).  And that’s right, I could not get my entire self with the entire outfit showing in one photo.  Head or bottom chopped off every time.  No biggie.

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The outfit…my favourite comfy cotton white tank that I wear under almost everything,  a denim button up shirt from Gap that I got 2nd hand, a big red scarf (also thrifted) and …drum roll please…a red jersey maxi skirt that I made a few hours before going out for the night!  I’m also sporting a spoon ring I got from the Orangeville Farmer’s Market in the summer.  It’s got a beautiful ‘narcissus’ pattern on it that I love, big dangly earrings I scored from a thrift shop for $2 and a new feather necklace that I made from supplies scored at the Arton Bead Shop in Toronto (if you are ever in Toronto…this is the place for crafty jewelry supplies.  It’s bead heavenImage).

No shoes.  Ordinarily I’m all about winter, but this year I got the major blues and my feet keep begging me for warm soil.  I swear…you can actually hear them crying when I shove them into wool socks and big heavy winter boots.  Giant heaving sobs of distress.

So, how did I do?  Next up will be ‘What to Wear’  for St. Pat’s.  And if you are looking for other wonderful ‘What to Wear’ ideas check out these fabulous fashion divas of the web:

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper

Marcia: Like a Small Fire
Sondra: Abhaya Yoga

ship wreck

alton mills window

I have since watched seasons turn, tended gardens,

And I understand that for new life to grow

What has long been held back, held in,

Must be released, set free, transformed,

Composted, returned.          (from Leaving by Claire Sylvan)

 

I was sifting through Claire’s beautiful book of poems called ‘Turnings’ and this snippet from her poem ‘Leaving’ pulled me in and put words to a feeling I have been nestling for some time.

Strange how the other day the prospect of being offered a good job with a regular salary and Monday to Friday hours brought sadness instead of joy.  As if, instead of watching an opportunity unfurl, I was seeing the blinds be drawn on the window.  And I knew then that I needed to pay attention to that feeling.

I have been more silent this year.  Withdrawn.  A small ship wreck of my former self.  And i’ve allowed myself, for once, to simply sit with this for awhile and watch what comes back to shore.  To not jump at the first chance of change.  All too often I grab for the first thing that looks like a life jacket, only weeks or months later to discover it is the same piece of driftwood that i’ve been narrowly clinging to for years.

I have spent a lot of time worrying about what other people think or trying to achieve what someone else wants for me.  I’ve noticed that when I do put words to the things I want they are often shoved down.  Irresponsible.  Eccentric.  Too many ideas.  Too little focus.  Flighty.  Indecisive.  Not whole.

I’m ready now to start transforming the judgments I have picked up.  They do not come from me and don’t belong here.  Responsive.  Creative.  A wealth of ideas.  Outside the box.  Adventurous.  Decisive.  Whole.

I’ve worked hard this past year.  And instead of focusing on the isolation, the exhaustion, the sense of having given too much…I want to focus on the solitude, the rest, the sense that I can now

point to what i want (by virtue of knowing what I don’t want).

I was recently asked in an interview to describe my dream job.  What came out of my mouth was what they wanted to hear.  That is, after all, what we have been told to do in an interview.  But I’m spitting up truth these days when I least expect it.  I asked myself that very same question when I got home.  Naturally, I had a different answer.

Now the question is whether or not I am going to listen to and follow that truth.

What I would like to do with 2013:

  • develop a creative writing e-course and eventually expand that to a series of retreats.  An opportunity to engage people to seek and speak their truth, their story through a series of guided activities and writing exercises.  the kind of writing that will feel like invasive surgery, an embrace and a warm cup of cider (all at the same time)
  • craft.  create.  and sell little bits of beauty.
  • write.  write.  write. and when i think it’s out:  edit.  edit.  edit.
  • sip tea.  sell tea.
  • finish the last bit of my 2nd personal trainer certification and study wellness coaching.

Mountain Men and Maple Syrup (or a tale of two pancakes)

Mountain Man Buckwheat Pancakes

Two boys decided they don’t like maple syrup.  Just when I think I’m getting a handle on the world, a curve ball.  I mean, seriously, did you know it was possible to not like maple syrup?  I had no idea.  But there you go.  Some people out there simply don’t like the sugary sweet miracle of sap.  a gift from the trees.  perfect on everything from pancakes to steak.  yep, if i was wealthy i’d eat this stuff on everything (and I’d likely have an entirely new set of health problems).

ah, but you see, because two boys decided they no longer like maple syrup, two adults got to gallop home with a mason jar full of the amber beauty.

and so a test.  gluten-free buckwheat pancakes.  First we tried a recipe I found online for “Mountain Man” pancakes, because I do loves me some mountain men.  Next we tried a recipe e-mailed to me by our friend Melissa.  And ding ding ding…Keevil, your pancakes are the winner!  Both recipes were delicious, but the Buckwheat-Cornmeal combination tasted the most like the pancakes I have known and loved in the past.  They also rose quite fluffy and stayed that way after they were lifted from the pan.  Whereas the Mountain Man Pancakes rose and than sunk once removed from the heat.  I will hold back on making any correlation between the performance of the pancakes and actual ‘mountain men’.

(i apologize as well to all friends currently living in the mountains.  you’ve chosen a charmed life and i am endlessly envious.  you know it.)

The recipes.

Mountain Man Buckwheat Pancakes can be found over at Frugal Antics. Loads of good eats over there.

and here is the recipe shared by Melissa:

Buckwheat-Cornmeal Pancakes

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

1 cup buttermilk or almond milk

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup frozen blueberries (optional)

(Only thing I changed with this recipe is I added a tsp of baking soda and I also soured a regular cup of milk with 2 tbsp of vinegar and let it sit for 5 minutes)

Yum Yum!

Bacon Fixes Everything

Flax Seed Gluten Free Bread

gluten free brown rice crust quiche

phlooomghssst.  I think that’s the sound that came out of my mouth.

My first attempt at baking gluten-free bread appeared to be successful at first.  The dough rose, the smell coming from the oven was all the deliciousness I’ve come to expect and the final loaf when cut looked like your average sandwich bread.  I will not give you a link to the recipe or to the blog that promised that this recipe was the best gluten-free recipe for bread ever.  If this is the best…well, lady who shall remain nameless…i’m calling bullshit.

i only wish i knew which of the ingredients made that loaf of bread so utterly unappetizing to my taste buds (Mr. Beardpants by the way enjoyed two slices of toast, plus what I couldn’t finish of mine…so it could just be me).  Brown rice flour…are you evil?  what about the starches?  if anyone has any suggestions for more appetizing flour combinations please let me know.

at one point i ran the risk of blogging too little and now i run the risk of driving you all bonkers with excessive gluten-free-whine-my-back-hurts-and-my-toes-turn-white posts, but don’t worry…soon i’ll drift away from circulation issues and dazzle you with posts about boxes and packing tape.

Tonight i’m making a little post-assault gift for my mouth.

Bacon does indeed fix everything.

A little cheddar bacon broccoli quiche (made with a brown rice crust…real rice though…not that weird flour crap).  I know that bacon is evil too, but I refuse to break our friendship.

We’ve had a good run and Bacon, you’ve always been there for me.

(side note:  my high school boyfriend named a pig after me.  Stacy lived a good well fed life and in the end she was absolutely delicious. But if you are thinking about naming a pig after your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day or any other occasion for that matter…ummm…well, just don’t.)

I adapted this recipe for Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche.  It’s absolutely nom-nom good.  Only thing I changed was adding in the bacon.

Goodbye Gluten: Hello, DIY Imitation Kashi Cereal

gluten-free cereal diy homemade

Wheat, it’s all I can think about.  Funny how when you decide to give something up for a while it has a way of taking over your mind.  Last night I fell asleep counting giant chocolate muffins and croissants and riding around with a bike basket full of baguettes.

It is only day two of operation ‘Goodbye Gluten’.

This is something I am trying out for a while to see if it helps at all with the inflammation and pain in my joints or the chronic bloating and stomach pains that have plagued me for nearly a decade.  I figure it can’t hurt and if it doesn’t make a difference I can happily go back to munching on melba toasts.  But if it does help with the above described problems than I think i’ll be all too happy to get a little extra creative in the kitchen.

Some of you may know I love to bake and I love to eat.  And one weapon I have on my side is that we already make most of our food from scratch.  So when I ran down the meal plan for this week it wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be.  We grabbed up a few extra ingredients, shoved the wheat and gluten filled pantry items to the side and dug right into experimenting with new flours.

Over the course of the next week or two I will be sharing some of the food we are making and some of the recipes I am discovering.  I don’t really want this blog to become all about ‘inflammed joints’ and ‘bloat belly’ and ‘gluten this and wheat that’.  But for the time being this is what’s happening and I thought I could make it a bit more fun if I take the time to share.

I’m not big on cereal.  More of an egg breakfast kinda person.  But I do love a little breakfast parfait from time to time with some cereal and yoghurt and fruit.  So I whipped up an imitation ‘kashi’ style granola that is also gluten-free.  I’m too cheap by the way to buy cereal.  I’m like that about most things.

So here’s the recipe:

in a big bowl mix together

  • 4 cups of gluten-free oats
  • 2 to 3 cups of puffed millet cereal
  • 1 cup of coconut
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup of chopped almonds
  • 3/4 cup of honey
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • Some shakes of cinnamon

Mix it all together and spread the cereal mixture onto a couple of baking sheets.  Throw the sheets in the oven at 350 F for approximately 30 to 40 minutes (until it browns lightly).  Check on the cereal every 5 to 10 minutes and give it a stir.  When it is done, remove from the oven and sprinkle a few shakes of gluten-free vanilla extract (you gotta check this stuff cause often it’s full of artificial colouring which may contain gluten).  Add a cup full of raisins and mix.  When the mixture has cooled store in an air-tight container.

My mix nearly filled a 3 L storage container.  It’ll keep in the pantry for about 4 to 6 weeks, but you’ll so have gobbled it all up way before that time comes.

Happy Nibbles!