Monday, March 19, 2012

Leprechauns and inukshuks

Jigging up a St. Paddy's Day storm with friends in Renfrew.

Sun filtering through heavy morning mist in the forest and resting in a thick, white swath on the mighty Madawaska — the same stretch of river that perfectly, magically, reflected a thousand stars the night before.

Basking in the glorious spring summer sun while fishing for passing ice floes; building inukshuks on them, and sending them on their way. Wondering who might spy them on their downstream journey and wonder how they got there. 

For all the goodness of the weekend, the low-light was without question, most definitely, roto-rootering our drain (just like we did in July). Specifically those several heart-stopping moments when I was certain the gurgling we heard — after feeding 47 of the 50 foot cable into the drain — was an approaching force promising a geyser of disastrous proportions. Thankfully, the gurgling was receding and was in fact the sound of success, and now full-flow showers and baths are mine to be enjoyed again (and for a fraction of the price a plumber would charge — we are die-hard DIY'ers, even when the job is a horrid one). Though, it's good to be reminded how much excess water we use waste.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thirty-two laps around the sun

Though I technically lost an hour of my birthday, it doesn't really feel like it because the whole weekend was filled with awesomeness. Plus, it's so great to have more light in the evenings. So great.

We watched movies: something recent to start getting caught up on all the Oscar-nominated films, and something old as a throwback to my old slumber-party-bdays. I think I forced my party guests to watch this for at least three years in a row... Verdict: just as good as I remember it.

We ate. A lot. And frequently: Scone Witch (my fav), Mark's scrumptious homemade pizza (my fav), brunch at Soup'Herbe (it was superb! and another new fav), croissants and tarts and other tasty treats from our wanderings around the Market. Favs all around.

We were spontaneous: while walking past Parliament on the way to the Market, Mark suggested we go on a tour, so we did! Mark missed his Grade 8 Trip To Ottawa (the standard trip destination for schools where we grew up), and I hadn't realized he'd never been before. And since we've been living in Ottawa for almost four years now, this gross oversight had to be corrected. So tourists we were! 

We basked in the incredible weather: lots of warm, friendly sun. We went for a short hike in Gatineau Park, though there was enough snow we could have gone snowshoeing! Mark got my bike all tuned up and fixed my flat tire so I could ride to work this week, which is the best feeling. No more being tied to the rigid bus schedule! Freedom! And now Mark doesn't have to listen to me belt out "I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride my biiiiiiiike. Bicycle! BICYCLE!"

Oh, and one more thing: I got a tattoo! A birthday present from my workmates (I have the best job. Last year they got my private accordion lessons and the card read "Accordion to us, you're the best." No, they're the best!)

This is not the first tattoo I've gotten for my birthday. When I turned 18 my parents and I went to visit my brother at university. My brother not only sprang for me to get a tattoo, but he also kept my parents busy while his roommate took me to get it done. It was not until my parents and I were driving home that I told them. Best secret plan, ever.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chocolate chili cranberry cookies

Sound good, don't they. And oh, are they ever! But what if I told you the main ingredient is black beans? Still with me? And what if I told you they are gluten-free and vegan? I've probably lost some of you now... But go with me on this one. I've made them several times now to rave reviews. I'm not vegan (I do love me some cheese!), but I tend to find that vegan recipes are more inventive with ingredients, and often tastier, and these cookies are no exception.

Black Bean Chocolate Chili Cranberry Cookies
Recipe by Sarah Britton from My New Roots
Makes nine 3” cookies


1 ½ cups black beans, very soft
2 tbsp. coconut oil

1/3 cup organic cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp. chia seeds

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix chia seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla in a bowl and set aside. 
3. Place drained and well-rinsed beans, coconut oil, cocoa, salt and cayenne in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add maple syrup and chia mixture and pulse to incorporate. The batter will be quite liquid-y, but still hold together. Remove blade from the food processor and add chopped chocolate and cherries. Fold to incorporate.
4. Spoon cookie batter onto lined baking sheet. Using the back of the spoon, flatten top of cookies slightly, as they will not spread when baking. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt (important!). Bake for 15 minutes until the edges are browning. Cool and eat. Store in the fridge.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A home for books

Spied this cute illustration over on bookshelf porn (yup, there's a site about it; clearly I'm not the only one...). And lucky me: I've got a boy who will build me bookshelves! I'm the luckiest girl in the world!

Other than my initial pencil sketch and helping to paint them, I had absolutely nothing to do with their creation (other than moral support, ie. doing twirls of joy as each phase was completed. Plus, once they were completed, I did meticulously organize the books into their appropriate categories and ordered them by height. You all do that, right? No? Just me? Ahem, ok, moving on...). Mark would not have claimed to be a carpenter before, and he probably still wouldn't, but I think these built-ins tell otherwise. 

I love them so much. They make me so happy. So happy, I am seriously considering printing a wallet-sized photo of them to keep in my wallet... is that weird?

Software developer by day, carpenter/electrician/chef on evenings and weekends. :)

Also, I just read that today, March 1, is World Book Day. Yay for books!