Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Vegan Experiment

This semester I am taking a nutrition course, which has been really interesting. In the western world, we place meat on the pedestal of our meal, and accompany it with sides of vegetables and starches. One thing I have discovered is I eat way too much protein. How much, you ask?

About twice as much as I need.

Imagine what I'd look like if I ate twice as much fat as I needed. *Gulp*. Our professor is a dietitian who treats people daily in the "real world", and she stresses balance and habit. You don't become overweight over night. You have to make eating properly a habit. Likewise, eating all the iron you'll need for the week in one day is a bad idea.

For our current assignment, we are supposed to "test drive" a diet. In this sense, diet means what you eat, like "the diet of a lion," not "drop 10 pounds". The options were Mediterranean Diet, Celiac Diet, Vegan, Hypertension Diet, and Local Diet. The point is to see what sort of limitations other people face, and see the financial impact of these diets. Ideally, with careful planning, they should not cost more than you usually spend. Our trial diet is supposed to last 2 weeks.

I am now on day six of my Vegan experience. Vegetarianism and Veganism isn't something that I would support because of moral grounds- I think eating animals is a perfectly moral option, so long as they are treated ethically. The diet was tempting, however, because of the amount of meat I eat. I wanted to see what sort of alternative dishes I could prepare, and what tofu tastes like, again.

So far, it's been a good experience, even though I made some bloopers on a couple days. My "family" (boarding hosts) is joining me on this adventure, and we have had Squash and Lentil Curry; Beans and Rice; and I made myself a stir fry (featuring tofu) one night. Tonight, I am making Peppery Red Wine Capellini... it looks so yummy! Another one I want to try is Stuffed Red Peppers.

One surprising thing is the things you can eat, as a vegan. I was scanning PETA's "Accidentally Vegan" list, and found Oreos. Who would have thought...

Eventually, when I get in the position where I am cooking all the meals, I would like to try to incorporate some vegan or vegetarian dishes. They are full of vitamins and minerals because of the diversity in fruits and vegetables, and cost about the same as featuring a meat dish. They also offer some diversity in the weekly routine of cooking.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Chase Building

Do you ever have one of those moments where you feel like you're in a movie? I've had a couple of those recently, in one class in particular.

The math building at Dalhousie (also called the Chase Building) is currently under renovation. It started with a little upkeep of the stone work. Next it turned into updating all the windows. Then a pipe broke and ruined all sorts of mathematical journals (some of you may find this a good thing... most here don't). There's really only one classroom in the Chase Building that can fit more than 10 people, and so many math students never actually have a class there. It's just a place to relax, a campus-home, if you will. There are a lot of offices and study areas with comfy chairs.

Anyway, I have the privilege this year of having my Optimization class there. And each morning, we hear this thump, bang, or brrrrrrrr from the open window. And if any of you have seen A Beautiful Mind, you'll remember when Professor Nash starts to teach a class, and closes the window to muffle the jackhammer outside, ignoring the sweltering students. Jennifer Connelly's character coolly gets up and politely asks the construction workers to do something else for the time so they can get enough fresh air to think.
Well, I sort of feel like being Jennifer Connelly, because even with the windows closed, they're drilling into the building. It is loud. And it's hard to optimize with brrrrrr going on.
I think I could pull off the hair too. And she has the cutest dresses.
I love math movies.
Picture from A Beautiful Mind, (2001).

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Goodbye, Earl

Shortly before I got to Halifax, I got the memo that I should be expecting a hurricane. On the days leading up to the hurricane, it was hot, still, and humid. I had a tea party at a friend's house, and it was just charming! Hot tea is actually not that bad in hot weather- supposidly it makes your body temperature hoter, which makes the air around seem cooler. The company was great too. There were about eighteen girls in attendence, and we chatted for a while over scones, and then went around and shared our summer and worries for the coming year and praying for each other. It was great.
The other days surrounding Earl I read a lot! I finished Julie and Julia, Grace Abounding, and Columbine. I also baked an apple pie and focaccia bread, which was surprisingly easy! I've made bread before... this was incredible and delicious! So good!
Now that Earl's gone, the weather has cooled. I have helped friends move into their appartments, and have gotten settled back in my room. Unfortunately, I wasn't as content with my class list as I would of liked (I'm not sure what inspired me to take Shakespeare for fun, even though I do like him), and am now trying to scramble my many, random interests into a class schedule. Two days before school starts. *Sigh*

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Quilting Myths Debunked

I think there's this myth out there that in quilting, 90% of your time is spent sewing- probably because that's the obvious outcome of all your work. Depending on the quilt, this amount varies a little, but I would say only 35% of your time is actually sewing patchwork together. Another 30% is quilting. That's really all the sewing.
Besides that, I would estimate 2% of the time is washing, 25% of your time is ironing, 15% of your time is pinning, and 15% of your time is cutting. Oh, and don't forget 8% of your time spent scratching your head, staring at instructions.

And I know that adds up to 130%. That's because it always takes longer than you'd expect.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Fitness Goals

I am not fit. I used to be. No longer.

It's sort of sad. I don't really look it. I'm not especially self-conscious about my appearance- I don't look overweight. I just don't have physical endurance to run or do an exercise program. I'm not taking care of my body. And losing a little fat and gaining muscle never hurt anyone.

The scary thing is, I'll be 20 in January (eek! aah! yipe!). Then it gets harder to start something like this. My uncle, who is in his 40's and started working out several years ago told me that it is something he wishes he had started sooner.

Last year I was a little more fit than I have been in the past couple years. I walked a lot in my day, just on my way to school and between classes. I love walking through downtown Halifax. I took a dance class in the fall, which was good. It wasn't particularly challenging, but it got me out doing something. I also started the couch to 5k program and 200 sit-ups program, briefly. It was a first step... but I also drank a lot of hot chocolate, as my wonderful Halifax family can attest. And I still feel like a dweeb when exercising. Not only can I really not do much, but I just haven't been the tank-top wearing, headband sporting girl. I feel really out of my comfort zone, like everyone's looking at me and thinking, "you call that jogging?".

This year, I want to take advantage of what my school fees are going towards. We have a gorgeous workout facility that I used more for exams than exercising last year, even though I am required to pay membership. I would like to do a couple free group classes this year, particularly Aquafit and Yogaflex.

I like the idea of Aquafit because I just need to get started. I have a feeling once I start exercising, it will come easier rather quickly, but as it is, I get discouraged by the feeling that my knees hurt (those aren't muscles?) and I can't keep up with my breathing. I hope Aquafit will allow my muscles to strengthen enough that my joints are protected, and give me a jump start into cardiowork.

I like the idea of Yogaflex (note, not yoga... more fitness focused than spiritual focused) because it will further tone me and make me more flexible. I used to be really flexible, and kept it for years after I did cheerleading somehow. And though now I am probably still more flexible than I deserve, I'm starting to feel tighter. I love my flexibility and how I feel after a good stretch.

So, those are my plans. I would also like to finish the couch to 5k and 200 sit-ups programs this fall. We will see what the winter brings. I only hope that my classes allow for these other programs, in particular the two group ones I would prefer. And hopefully I'll have a wonderful partner in crime join me- my boyfriend and I talked a lot this summer about how we should start working out. We both feel we should be more health conscious, and doing it together would be good support and motivation.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pies + Jars = Cuteness + Yumm!

I found this cute cute party favor idea on Etsy and thought to myself, "Self, I bet you can do that!"
Sure, you can always spend $10 to have a cute pie-in-a-jar made for you and shipped overnight, but isn't it sooo much more scrumptious to make it yourself? (Not to mention a little more budget friendly, especially considering the amount of jars my family has around)
In my quest for a recipe, I discovered that they can be frozen before baking, and then pulled out at a moment's notice! What a great idea for single people or empty nesters- no obligation to eat a whole pie. You just bake enough for one and don't finish off more than your share of sugars for the day. So I thought I'd try it out. Originally I was going to freeze it, but then I figured, what the heck. It's not every day I make apple pie. So yummy!
Then over the last week I made a trip over to Brooks, Alberta. My grandma had some of my aunt's famous pie crust in the freezer, and some of her famous cherry pie filling. Now, I am my grandmother's granddaughter, and acquired her sweet tooth, but my grandfather has diabetes. So I whipped up some jars to prevent them from trying to finish off a pie too. My grandmother was thrilled.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sweet Dreams

Check out this neat video. Talk about artistic vision. I would love to be part of a project like this. The detail of her hair is so neat, as well as changing the sheets. Watch out for the jellyfish!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Gave In

I have made a couple trips to Chapters over the last several weeks. I love bookstores. They are such a safe haven. Statistics show only 50% of people bought a book in 2008. And only 45% of people read a book. (Hmmm....) Luckily for the publishing houses, that low amount buys enough. Some people are book people. I am one of them.

I have enough books- I really do. I should probably start learning to use a library card. Or let go and sell some of the ones I will never read again. They are few and far between, but I know deep down they exist. So I promised myself that I wouldn't buy any more this year (except textbooks). My shelf in Halifax is packed. "No more books!" I told myself before leaving. I've been pretty good about it too.

But I guess I risked temptation one too many times. I left Chapters today with not one but two books! Oh the misery. I'm trying to save! I'm trying to reduce my belongings! But you see.... this book I've been eyeing all last year finally came out in soft-cover. And this other book I found is exactly what I've been looking for (my step-father has declared that I love food. I'm not sure if that's good or bad). I'm determined to make educated decisions about my lifestyle habits, like diet! I'm not sure how school shootings fit into that... maybe a defense for homeschooling. In any case, not only are these 894 pages [total] now calling my name, distracting me from Anna Karenina (which I really would like to finish in the next two weeks), but they are going to be taking up space in my suitcase and on my bookshelf.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I know it seems like I've done a lot of cooking recently, and that is for a couple reasons. First, the rest of my life has been frustrating. For instance, today I drove all the way downtown and then realized I forgot my wallet... which only reminded me that the reason my wallet was out of my purse was because I spent all morning talking to banks on the phone and trying to get my "American" bank network to communicate with my "Canadian" bank network... so I just went back home. Cooking calms me. Just follow the directions. Even if it goes wrong, it's not like the house is on fire (unless it's gone really wrong). Make a note on the recipe and try again another day.
Another reason is I found this adorable blog. I enjoy perusing it, and it in turn inspires me. Bet you didn't know I started a cooking blog once... my dream was something like that one. It never really took off- I just didn't cook enough last year.
And lastly, my mommy likes it. (Hi mom!) :)
Oh, and lastly lastly, I like taking pictures. And food pictures are awesome.

Yesterday, my buddy Rae was talking about the suppers she had made, and on the list was perogies. Not only have I been hoarding the ingredients around this house, wanting to make them, but it's on my 101 in 1001 list. This afternoon, after I drove home from downtown, I decided today was the day.

I used the Canadian Living recipe, which I have used before making it tried and true. By the way, all of you non-Canadians or non-Ukrainians, what are perogies, you ask? They're amazing mashed potatoes, cheese, and onion stuffed into pockets of dough. They resemble dumplings, sort of. You boil them, to cook, and saute them with onion, and serve with a dollop of sour cream. Yumm!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Seafood Linguini

From when I was little, my favorite meal of all time has been what my family calls "Seafood Linguini" (known to the ladies of Best of Bridge as Linguini with White Clam Sauce). It is so rich and the most unhealthy thing my mom would make, boasting a whole block of cream cheese. It is just so good! On our birthdays, we were able to request the meal, and this was always my pick.
I was planning on making it the other night, but I realized my family's conversion from white to red wine has left the selection of white wine downstairs lacking. Yesterday, I stopped by the store in the pouring rain to pick some up. I had debated making it without the wine, but it's an ingredient! And by that I mean, if I want to make it to taste the way my mom makes it, it needs wine. I would rather put it off for a day or two and make it the way I remember, than have it now in an unpure form. :)
Following the recipie
Yummy cream cheese

If you want the recipe, it's is available in The Best of the Best, page 157. Most libraries actually have a good selection of cook books.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pecan Pie

Recently, being at my mom's and not at school, I have had ample opportunity to work on my culinary skills, which I LOVE! I have made sweet potato carrot soup, cream of broccoli soup, broiled tilapia parmesan, banana bread, peach and blueberry cobbler, southwest corn casserole, blueberry buttermilk pancakes, loads of cucumber salad, scalloped potatoes, chicken pesto drumsticks, and tuna stuffed tomatoes (surprisingly my favorite yet!). Tomorrow's plan is Samosas! (phyllo-wrapped potatoes, peas, and ground beef). But yesterday I was craving to cook in the early afternoon- too early to start supper. So I pulled out two pie shells, and after a bit of thought, took a stab at pecan pie.
Something I love about cooking is trying new recipes. I think I inherited this from my mom. Her favorite time to try something new is when she has invited guests over- something that some people find hilarious. I can relate though, in a way. I mean, I like to know it's going to work out, so I pick a recipe that looks reliable, but some of the best recipes (like the tuna stuffed tomatoes) are surprises. Out of all the meals I listed above, there are some I will probably try not to make again (the Canadian Living scalloped potato recipe I used leaves something to be desired, though it was healthier than most variations), but you would never know unless you try.
So, without further ado, here is the simple, yummy recipe I used to make two pecan pies yesterday (yes, I doubled it). Warning: reading the recipe may add an inch to your waist.

1 unbaked 9" single-crust pie shell
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
2 Tablesp. butter, melted
1 teasp. vanilla
1 1/2 c pecan halves

In bowl, stir together eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and vanilla; stir in pecans. Pour into pie shell. Bake in bottom third of 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is just firm to the touch, shielding edge with foil if browning too quickly (mine was in there more like 55 minutes).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Lost Art of Conversation

I was reading Anna Karenina the other day, and came across a chapter where a character invites guests over for dinner. Offhand, that sounds like nothing special, but it was described so intentionally, that I couldn't get over it.

The dinner was what could almost be considered a party. It was 8 individuals or so, who weren't part of the same circle of friends. They weren't all one chummy group. Some were related. Some were acquainted. Some were political rivals. However, the host arranged it all so that the dynamic characteristics of each of his guests would be on display. He intentionally invited certain people to introduce them, because he knew they would get along greatly.

Then, during the party, he would mingle between guests, bringing up topics he knew they would find interesting. He encouraged conversation. He knew how to avoid touchy subjects. It was incredible.

In our day, things like this just don't happen. In a sermon by John MacArthur that I was listening to yesterday, he was talking about how people are becoming more and more individualized, and don't see values in relationship. We don't see dependence on others as a good thing. We like to be autonomous. We take pride in the fact that we can get along on our own, without help from family or friends. Now, I'm not saying you should be a burden on someone, or that working to provide for yourself is wrong. Not at all. My point is that we lack that link that generations before us found vital.

If you were to invite eight people over for dinner, who would it be? They couldn't be of the same group- your basketball team, your Bible study. Just eight people who you think could thrive off of each others experiences and conversation. I don't think I know eight people's personalities well enough to know what sort of things they would have in common with my other friends. It's quite sad.

Another experience I had recently was a stop I had on the way back from a family vacation. We spent two nights at my Aunt and Uncle's house in southern Alberta. I have always loved talking to my aunt, and this time, I wanted to figure out why. Why is it I feel so comfortable with this woman who I really only see twice a year at the most?

She makes you feel she's listening. She asks intentional questions. She cares about what your goals and dreams are. She never questions "how can you afford to do that?" or "is that really the best use of time?". She's genuinely excited about your life, and what you're excited about. She knows how to create these sorts of conversations where you can really meet someone. I don't feel I know her quite as well as she knows me, but I feel that's my fault. I haven't been intentional about asking. I haven't developed that skill.

That's something I really want to work on. People usually love to share themselves, but we're too busy trying to get our point across that we miss the experiences they're trying to share with us.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Lessons from Emma

I have had a wonderful time in Texas this summer. I arrived at the beginning of June, and unfortunately will be off next Wednesday, but there have been some great memories, wonderful relationships created, and many things to look forward to next year.

One of the things I have done while down here was read Emma, by Jane Austen. My reading has been a little scattered recently, with multiple books progressing slowly, and I have to admit,Emma took me a little bit of reading to get into it. She is just so purely annoying! Emma Woodhouse is the kind of snobbish person I want little to do with in ordinary life. (Which has caused me to spend a little time evaluating myself...) However, something that I admire about her is she takes criticism from those she respects and grows from it.

At the beginning she is very selfishly motivated in all her daily activities, even in charity. She doesn't assist others out of love, but out of how it makes her appear and expectations those around her have. She takes Harriet in because she feels she, with her superior position, can introduce Harriet to society (ironically, Emma takes it as an insult when Mrs. Elton offers to do the same thing for her). Honestly, Harriet was much more tolerable and respectfully humble before Emma got to her.

At one point, she makes some painful remarks to Miss Bates. Mr. Knightly, her brother-in-law who she has known since her youth, tells her, bluntly though respectfully, she is in the wrong. Immediately Emma recognizes and attempts to repent by heart-fully attending to the Bateses. It's a change that is apparent to only the reader because nothing changes outwardly. She still visits frequently, as always, but her inward thoughts, her private notations and observations, change greatly.

It's something that I know I need to work on myself. It's so easy to get wrapped up in doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, and though it's not observable to others, it eventually becomes noticeable in attitude or work ethic. Even today, I found how I take criticism from certain people as a personal attack, rather than an opportunity to grow and develop better habits- something I can work on continually.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Amazing Artists

Check out this amazing video found courtesy of Rifle Paper Co. It's about hand painted billboards in a fast paced world. A really incredible story to watch- definitely worth the time.

There's something inspirational about it. Maybe it's the amount of training it takes, or the risk these artists challenge. Or maybe it's their perseverance to remain dedicated when their job prospects really aren't looking too high. You can definitely tell they love what they do, and it's refreshing to see, when you look at so many students who are willing to sacrifice passion for security.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday (Part 1)

My dearest Kassi is getting married SATURDAY!!! So exciting! I thought I'd share some of the festivities with y'all. It's my first time being in a wedding party, so I'm doing a lot of observing and note taking, trying to figure out how things are done and how I can help.

A couple weeks ago, the bridesmaids and one of Kassi's other friends made a day trip out to Banff for her bachelorette party. We wanted her to enjoy the scenery and complete an amusing scavenger hunt. Items on the list were things like "Take a picture with a 'Matt'" (the name of her fiance) and "find the most romantic book title". Then we headed to the Grizzly House which is a rather unobtrusive shack on Banff Avenue. None of us had eaten there before, but I highly recommend it! We were surprised when we walked in at the character of the place! It is a fondu place that specializes in exotic meats (rattlesnake, shark, ostrich) as well as the fondu regulars. We erred on the safe side and got beef, chicken, and prawns for us to share. The meal was delicious and the evening was full of entertainment. You'll have to check it out to see what I mean! My only caution is to save it for special occasions. Even for Banff Avenue, it is pricey, with most meals over $40, before drinks.

Then we went to the hotsprings to settle our full tummies, and had a great swim and wonderful conversation. The evening ended with a trip back to Calgary and watching Father of the Bride at Kassi's apartment. We all got much too little sleep, but Nadine was a trooper and woke up to make the rest of us waffles, complete with strawberries and homemade whipped cream. It was a very enjoyable event, and got Kassi realizing how close she is to the big day!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Dirty Dozen

Since I've been back in Calgary, I've been doing the grocery shopping for my mom. I actually really love it! It's like shopping, but for necessities. And it's a game to figure out the best prices, and the best apple in the pile.
One thing I've had trouble with was deciding to buy organic or not. Of course, organic is no doubt healthier, but some things hold more pesticides than others anyways. Wouldn't it be great to know what fruits and vegetables were worth the extra financial cost?
The day after I was mulling this over, I found this adorable cheat sheet! It's available to be printed off, and has the good produce on one side and the "dirty dozen" on the other, complete with illustrations for the illiterate.
I've got to go grocery shopping, because I've been slack in my duties the last couple days, what with the two weddings I am in over the next two weeks. :)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Quilt Canada

Last Thursday (a week ago) my wonderful grandmother and her quilting crew took me to Quilt Canada, a large quilt show that sets up in a different chosen city each year. The last time it was in Calgary was 1988, joined by the winter Olympics. The show included a judged section, auction, displays, shops, and an antique quilt area (our favorite part).

One thing that stood out to me when wandering through the professional judging section was the purposed usage of quilting. (For those of you who aren't familiar with the terminology, the pieces of fabric are "pieced" together, and the "quilting" is the stitches that join the front and back of the quilt. Its main purpose is to keep the "batting" (white fluffy stuff in the middle) in place, and to flatten out the quilt. Otherwise, it's more of an air-filled pillow) In my last quilt, I did quilted "in the ditch" (along seams) and diagonally, as well as some free loops on the border. The quilts I saw usually didn't have straight quilting seams. Sometimes, the quilting was used to add to the picture. It was all very fascinating, and hard to explain.

There was a good deal of inspiration. I am interested in doing some applique, (where pieces of fabric are hand-sewn onto another, background fabric, as opposed to joined to it) and hand quilting (as opposed to machine quilting). Here are some of my favorite pieces from the show.

The most incredible quilt- all hand quilted!

Close up:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Continual Blessings

I have completed four final exams, and have two left at this point. My most recent exam was Linear Algebra. That course has been a mess so far.

It all started with enrollment. Everyone starts with Math 2030: Matrix Theory/Linear Algebra in the fall, which I did. Then there are two options for the second course in the winter. The first is the natural continuance, Math 2040: Matrix Theory/Linear Algebra 2. There is also Math 2135: Linear Algebra. I don't think it's ever explicitly stated in the course description, but it is the honors Linear Algebra. I was aware of this when I signed up for it, but I couldn't take Math 2040 because it conflicted with Cryptography, so I thought I would just suck it up and start the hike up the mountain of proofs.

I don't quite remember the situations surrounding the midterm, but I got a 48%. I was pretty miserable. I had totally skipped over one question, which automatically lost me 20%. It just wasn't a good time. Luckily, he took the grade out of 20 rather than 25, which boosted my grade to a 60%, but still... not the sort of thing a math major wants on her record.

The rest of the course was a little more application centered rather than proofs (though there were still plenty). With the final coming up, I was dreading all the studying I was going to have to do to make up for my midterm grade. Then our professor mentioned that he had an alternate grading option. Typically, the final would be worth 50% of our mark, and assignments and midterm are each worth 25%. However, if the final exam grade alone was higher than that composition, your grade would be taken as 100% final exam. Yahoo! The nasty midterm could be forgotten! But now the stress was on. I was aiming on clearing the slate, and to do that I wanted a really good final exam grade.

I spent a decent amount of time studying. My eighth grade science teacher, Mr. McHatton, was right. If you don't know how to study for university, you're toast. I think I'm still learning how to study, because I never really had to in high school, and that makes me put off studying even more! I hate the idea of it, but something I found when studying for this course was as I studied, it made sense. And suddenly, I didn't need to memorize tons of things- just the building blocks. I could come to the conclusions of the proofs myself if I just learn the basic properties. I didn't have to memorize a lot of theorems, and really, there weren't that many anyways.

Then the morning of the test day, I went to Coburg Coffee early early. I got a bowl of soup (for breakfast? I know. But it was really good soup) and pulled out the practice problems. I went through everything and then went to beautiful Becca A's room. She gave me a card with Eph 1: 18-21 on it, had me review, and sent me off.
...that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Eph 1:18-21 NKJV)
The test went wonderfully. I mean, I don't know how I did yet; it will be a couple weeks before I get the results back. But it's been quite the adventure. In the last two weeks I've discovered what wonderful friends I have and how, even though we're studying totally unrelated topics, we are there to help each other as best we can. Even though at the end I was starting to enjoy the material, I'm sort of glad that class is over. I'll update with the results when I get them.

Friday, April 09, 2010


I was cruising the library yesterday before a final exam (I call it cramming) and found Passchendaele, which is by the director and main actor of the movie Passchendaele that came out in 2008. It was sort of odd, the concept of a book made off of a movie. You could sort of tell when reading it, but it looked good, and I haven't read anything like it recently.

I was pretty pleased with it all. I mean, there were some stuff that it could have done without, but the plot was good. It was about the 10th Regiment of Canadian soldiers in WWI, and in particular, one soldier's story. He had been to the trenches once before, and after being sent home to Calgary with a diagnosis of shell-shock, he sneaks his way back in. There's two love stories woven in through there, but it's an interesting perspective. It allowed me to glimpse into the thoughts of a woman who was in a relationship with a soldier and how it changed him, which, Lord willing, I will not experience.

Historically, it reminded me a lot of All Quiet on the Western Front, which makes sense. I mean, there's really not too much to write about other than trenches. WWI is a pretty unique war, in some regaurds. It was sort of a bridge between old and new fighting technique. At least that's how it seem summed up to me, the unhistorical mathematician.

If anything, it helped me to realize that my fear of war isn't so much people dying. We all die eventually. It's people coming home completely changed, especially in they don't deal with issues that they're faced with properly. It's hard to deal once you get home because your civilian company has no concept of the experience. My grandfather, who lied about his age to fight in WWII, still doesn't talk about it. In a way, that would seem worse to me than losing someone, because they continue to remind you of the past, while never being the same.

Anyway, it was a quick read. Probably 3.5 hours.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Guilty Conscience

Guilt is an interesting phenomenon. It's beneficial because it means we recognize our sin and the tension we have with goodness, but sometimes it can pop up when we are not actually doing something wrong. I mean, we're always sinful, but sometimes we feel we should have done something when in actuality, we made a perfectly justifiable decision. Sometimes it's because of something someone else has said, but usually, it just nags.

If you ever want to make someone feel guilty, I'm a pretty easy target. This last week I've had a couple situations rolling around in my head: "I should have spent more time with her... I shouldn't be pestering him... I should have worked harder on that." Guilt is so effective because it is true in some respect. I remember a sermon once, talking about Satan's devices. One point was it works because it's [potentially twisted, manipulated] truth! Sure, I should have spent more time working on that assignment, but does pining over it help? The trick is to move on and not make the same mistake again

What I'm slowly learning each day is that Jesus died for our sins. Sounds like a Christian should know that, but I don't think we realize what that means each day. If I do something wrong, it's over. It's pointless trying to punish myself for things that He has already been punished for, if the guilt is caused by authentic sin. As Paul said, "If God is for us, who can be against us?... Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." (Rom 8:31b, 34)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Two Year Overview

You know it's bad when your own mother, who you call every day at 10:30 sharp says "you haven't been updating your blog recently." Either I need to start calling her more, or updating.
The truth is, I've had an emotionally taxing couple of weeks, and now finals are upon me.

Something I have noticed recently, when looking at my 101 in 1001 list, is how much I've changed in the last, approximately 650 days. Sure, that's two years, but it's interesting how much my life plans have changed and new opportunities have been brought to light. The funniest, I feel, is my goal to graduate high school in 2009. Not only will I have graduated high school in the 1001 days, but will be about a month away from my bachelor's degree at the end. :)

It's looking more and more like Latin is not going to happen, but that's fine. I took a logic course instead (I wanted some classical education) and really enjoyed it. Also, I'll be taking a course on Shakespeare, and reading more Tolstoy that I can fathom next year. Overall, I've enjoyed university so far. I'm really really excited about my Number Theory and two Game Theory courses next year, but that's just the inner math nerd in me.

The photography goals have basically been shot, but I do still enjoy venturing out with my camera. I just feel awkward taking pictures of people who I don't know because I'm worried that they'll think I'm creepy, and of people I do know, because they think I'm annoying. So that restricts the pictures to general landscapes or still life, which is fine. But I have also learned to knit and really really enjoy geocaching, and those things aren't expressed on the list at all.

I also need to work on organizing, but that was obvious before this list was created. That being said though, I have coped really well with having my own place away from home, and managing my school work. I think I just try to fit my work into methods that other people use, but don't have the motivation to do so because my own twisted ways work. For example, I have my planner, and a dry erase board in my room with a running to-do list. I own more books than I need, but all of them I either really like, or haven't read yet (but plan to), or feel like I will use them in the future (think homeschooling). In any case, the shelf in Calgary is all alphabetized, and the one in Halifax is sorted by topic.

I will reveal that the personal: dsumrwm is code (hah) for "don't screw up my relationship with Matthew". Again, I have to admit that early on in our relationship, I was concerned my past track-record was dismal (and it was). I figured I would do or say something stupid or hurtful, and that would be that. I probably have said stupid and hurtful things at some point or another, but he's been gracious and we've grown so much over the last two years. We actually had our third "anniversary" (complicated reasoning there) on Sunday, and it was incredible to look back. Long distance relationships aren't easy, but in some ways, I almost thing they're better if you can't get married anytime soon. They force you to take things slower and talk through a lot more. And it's not like we never see each other. So that's been awesome. In any case, I think it's safe at this point to say that's completed. I have overcome that fear, and things are looking very interesting in the next 360 days, much less thirty years.

Bible reading is also going well. I am in Romans now, and I have found that the bus is the best time to include that reading. Most mornings (with the exception of some Tuesday and Thursday mornings, for some reason) I pull out my little pouch as soon as I manage to make my way to a vacant seat, and get a couple chapters read. If I've had an exhausting day, but it's not really late (again, not sure why, but if it's dark, I just feel like staring out the window) I read another couple chapters on the way home. It's not like I have much better to do for my daily hour commute, and it's a wonderful way to start and wrap up the day. I will likely finish Revelation by the end of May, and then it's back to Genesis. I'm really enjoying it. And I'm taking a history of ancient Israel course next fall, so that will probably include some Old Testament readings.

The memorization isn't going as well, but I found a great scripture memory list that I'm working on, and I actually got one nailed down last week. This week is Psalm 16:11.

Anyway, so much for me studying tonight. I have continued my mentality of "If God wants me here, there's no way I'll fail out, and if he doesn't, there's no way I can pass." Not that I've been slacking off. I just don't take exams too hard, and the theory has served me well so far. Everything's lined up to graduate in approximately 350 days. I should start a real countdown... I should get some sleep though... I do love my sleep. That hasn't changed in two years. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


It's incredible how circumstantial we are as people.
Like right now, for instance. I just finished talking to someone who "wasn't in the mood" to do something.
I'm in the mood to be confrontational, but I'm also in the mood to be really easily wounded and weepy (hmmm.... ya).

I think I need to challenge myself this week not to allow my mood to be used as an excuse or crutch, and to not allow it to take control over my conversations with others. My hope is that I maintain a consistent, smiling heart, which can be nurtured by reflecting on all the blessings I have in my life. Not to be a moody

Anyway, that's all. Just an observation.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fresh Blood

I'm having trouble with the book report. The first issue was finding a book along the YLCF themes (ie. not math). The next issue is reading it. I think I"m on chapter 2, and the month is half done! I'll do a report on it once I'm finished, though, even if that's not in March.

On Monday, I was walking next to the Student Union Building when I saw a blood donor truck being unpacked. It's something I've always wanted to do, so during an hour break I had in my day, I rushed over and got in line (in hindsight, give yourself more than an hour; there were three people in line, and it took me a full hour ten minutes).
The first thing they did was ask me if this was my first time. I said yes, and the nurse said, "Ah, fresh blood." That made me laugh, which probably quelled the butterflies and jitters I had for about 0.7 seconds. I also got to wear a sticker that said "1st time donor" so that other nurses would know to explain things to me as they happened, which was nice. I got my basic name and address information taken there, then sent to fill out a medical form concerning my health.
The first fourteen questions I got to fill out myself. They were amusing. One was something along the lines of "Did you live in France for more than six months between the years of _ and _." Lots about where I've lived and the blood transfusions I've gotten.
The next group of questions, a nurse had to read to me and bubble in herself. I had read them over before hand and they seemed to be geared towards discovering if you have HIV ("Have you recieved a blood transfusion in Africa since 1977"), and from the questions, I knew that I was going to answer all of them no. So she started reading and I started shaking my head and she sped up. Let me tell you, that lady was the fastest, most accurate reader I have heard. Granted, she probably had the questions memorized, but she didn't even pause before questions, and she was simultaneously bubbling answers. It was incredible. She also took my blood pressure, which is always ridiculously low (I am my mothers child) but I was so nervous that it was actually on the low end of normal! So that was exciting. Then she handed me four bags, each a liter. My eyes bugged. I know the average woman only has 5 liters of blood. They were going to drain me dry. But she explained they were going to only fill up one bag, and then after it was tested, they would separate it out into the other bags.
Then I headed over to a lawn-chair-style-bed in the middle of the gym, surrounded by other beds with other students. Just as they got the cuff around my arm for pressure, the guy I was facing started to black out. There was a little flurry of nurses with cold rags and juice boxes around him, and his feet were propped up and head lowered, hence the lawn-chair. He was fine and my nurse was back in five minutes, but it was a rather interesting thing to see seconds before I was supposed to get stabbed.
Once I was hooked up, it was fine. I had a little squishy ball I was supposed to squeeze occasionally, and my arm fell asleep, but besides that, it was relatively painless. I passed the time watching the nurses test the blood on the table at the far side of the gym and chatting with the nurses. They were all very friendly and funny, and extremely grateful. They kept saying thank you, and I thought that was very nice of them, but really, it's something that somebody needs to do. As the motto of Canadian Blood Services says, "It's in you to give."
I wrote this so that anyone who is considering giving would know all that's involved and feel comfortable going in to the procedure. I didn't feel exhausted at all afterwards, and it was nice to know that I helped someone who might not otherwise get that help if everybody felt it was someone else's job. So yes, I would do it again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Get Ready

YLCF March of Books Blog Carnival

Not sure what I'm going to write about yet, but hopefully it will be good!

Monday, February 22, 2010

This Week

I don't usually like to post in this format, but it seems so much happened and there's not much to say about each, so here it goes.

Last week I:
  • Had a snow day Wednesday! We got a bit of a surprise dump on Tuesday night, and so Dal and King's were closed. I'm glad, because I had a midterm Wednesday morning, and I would have been sooooo stressed about arriving late because all the traffic was backed up. Unfortunately, I was ready for it and it was a little frustrating to put it off till Friday, but it turned out ok. The snow day helped enable me to get all of the following finished!
  • Took four midterms. Some were intense, some were fun, all turned out relatively well.
  • Started working out! I went for a two mile jog on Tuesday (while it was still gorgeous), which I don't think I have ever done. I also started a push-up and crunches program, to get me to a level I want to be. The goal is to be able to do 100 pushups and 200 crunches in a row, and to have jogged 30 miles before April 12. I'm contemplating the squats program too, or something for my legs, but jogging may be enough. We'll see.
  • Bought new tennis shoes (unrelated, but relevant to the previous point) because my old ones, which I've had about 30 months, have a nice hole in the toe. I actually bought the same ones, Nike Pegasus+, because I really like them, and I've noticed the updated version has an extra thick layer over the toe, so it seems that was an issue. Those shoes have been through lots, including a vat of barbecue sauce, and they've held up. Anyhow, that was my spending spree this week... :-/
  • Went to a young homeschoolers science fair with the A's. Lauren and Sarah entered projects on buoyancy, and did a really nice job of their experiment. The atmosphere was non-competitive, and we had a great time. I actually learned a bit from some of the projects, which was cool!
  • Knitted a Bible case from start to finish. My ESV was getting beat up in my backpack, so it now has a little lime green sweater. I really like the way it turned out. :)
  • Listened to 1 Peter sermons by Mark Driscoll on authority. Here: authority. Here: ungodly authority. Here: wives. Here: husbands. Pretty good. A lot of people don't his style, but the last one was the edgiest I've heard him, at least at the end, and... ya. I think it had truth and was necessary to hear, but not sure about the method of delivery- from the pulpit. Mr. Dave pointed out that when your authority gets public criticism from those higher up, it's harder for those lower down to respect them... definitely see two sides. I really respect what he has to say though. Good message.
  • Finished a web design project. We had to make a webpage for a school club. Check it out!

All in all, it was a good week. And now it's reading week!!! So exciting! Though I have a lot of things I need to do, including get caught up on everything I put off because of midterms last week. I also want to finish the Old Testament and get into Matthew this week, which is definitely do-able. I'm at Habakkuk now, so that's 31 pages in my NIV or 21 pages in my ESV (just different print sizes). All the rest are short books. I'm going to keep up the workouts, and Wednesday is Andrew's birthday- the big "oh-four" ;) I also want to finish Contact by Carl Sagan, if possible. It's pretty good so far, but I've been putting it on the back burner, and it's getting burned from sitting there so long.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Love Sucks least according to a shirt I saw on the bus. It was bright red, hard to miss, and the message was encircled in a candy heart. The young man wearing it was definitely making a statement, but I had to think about if he was just under the weather from a lonely Valentine's Day, or if he didn't understand what love is.

What's really ironic about this whole scenario is as he walked on the bus, I was listening to Sanctus Real's song, Don't Give Up. It's about the cultural norm of casual love that doesn't last. Unfortunately, today more married people have been or will be divorced than not. I had to laugh at my iPod for shuffling this way, but I really paid attention to the lyrics, and something stood out.
Your restless heart won't win, 'cause you take, but you don't give.
And you'll keep movin' on till you learn what love is.


I'm learning more and more that the key to every single relationship is giving. It's putting another before yourself, giving of your time, attention, talents, money, and otherwise- it's different for the needs of each relationship, be it friend, sibling, parent, or spouse. But one thing is consistant- giving. After all, that's what God did for us. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:7-10 ESV).

Sure love is hard, but it's a sad world that rejects even the idea of it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Joy and Simple Gifts

My birthday was earlier this month, and before I left for Calgary, we had a discussion here about what sort of cake I wanted. My friend, Catherine, and I had grown up with our birthdays one day apart, and we always had red velvet cakes (at least as I recalled at the time. Photographic research since has shown Catherine always has the red velvet cake, and occasionally I'm a copycat). But in any case, that's what I was after. Mrs. Gina was busy at the time with various things, so I opted for the box version, and began to hunt for Red Velvet Cake. Sobey's didn't have it. And there ended the hunt, because I don't have a car, so getting to grocery stores is a little complicated.
I ended up having a chocolate cake with cream cheese icing, which is basically a red velvet cake without being red, and I had a lovely birthday. My friend, Jenna escaped residence life and slept over, and we watched an "inspirational Christian sports movie," aka Facing the Giants. I got generous gifts from all the kids (including one of Andrew's picture books. :) talk about generosity) and spent some time that night thinking about the last 19 years. What a gift in itself.
Then, a week later, I went out for supper with Jenna, and she surprised me. She had been to Starbucks earlier that day, and lo and behold, they have Red Velvet Cupcakes!!! So she got me one. Isn't it incredible how the most simple gifts are sometimes the best? The cupcake and I had a photo shoot before it got devoured. Starbucks, I'm willing to sell the rights to the photos. ;)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sunshine's Dark Side

Today I was back in the McCulloch Museum. You may remember my post, just two weeks ago about the joyful yellow tang fish that caught my attention. Well, today he had a friend. It was a little wrasse, fluttering about.
While I was reading next to them, the professor who cares for that tank came in and was talking to another student about them. The three of us watched them flutter about, and the professor was telling us about the alpha characteristics of the yellow tang. He said that last Saturday, they had introduced a blue tang into the tank, and the next time he checked, there was not a trace of it! My eyes must have bulged. Our dear Sunshine! A cannibal!
It made me think though, about pets and how I hardly know that fish and think it's cute, but have no knowledge of the species as a whole. It happens a lot with dogs. People see this cute puppy they want, but have no real sense of the discipline and patience it takes to train a dog.
I've been thinking a bit recently if I want to have a dog when I'm "all grown up." Part of me does. I've always had one, and I appreciate the company and security. It's an excuse to go for walks, which I don't do enough as is. And I can definitely see me sitting by the couch at night, listening to my husband talk or read, petting a happy, sleeping dog.
But part of me knows the work. And the hair. Oh my goodness, the amount of hair my mom vacuums. And dogs are expensive.
One thing is for sure though, I would get a bigger dog. I love my dear Lacey and Ziggy, but they're so easy to spoil because of their cuteness. I don't know. There's a dog show in the middle of February, so I think I'll go and bring my camera and talk to some breeders for future reference.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


A fun quote from my Anatomy reading:
"Cerumen [earwax] in the external auditory canal provides a sticky barrier that prevents the enterance of foreign bodies, such as insects." (p.130)


Sorry, that caught me so off gaurd when I was reading it, I cracked up. Thought I'd share the joy.

Really though, insects???

Excerpt from Principles of Human Anatomy, 11th Ed. Tortora and Nielsen.
Photo by Chris Gin Some rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Learning to Knit

Something that piqued my interest recently is all the handmade goods for sale in Halifax. There's a lovely shop called Love, Me that sells locally crafted clothes, papergoods, and art, among so many other things. I love looking around that store.
From economics, we know that where there's a demand, the smart thing is to produce a supply, so there are also lots of neat craft stores. I first went into The Loop because I was after embroidery patterns. Well, if we're honest I went in because of the color and the interesting looking contraption in the window (later I discovered it's to spin the balls of yarn). Their shop has shelves of wool yarn from all sorts of animals and beautiful examples of different techniques. They also offered classes.
The class I took was called Knitting for Absolute Beginners. It's not entirely accurate, since my mom has taught me how to handle needles, and in the back of my mind, I do actually remember one night that I stayed up till midnight, learning to knit from the internet (successfully- I just never did it after that!) but I wanted to start from scratch. The instructor's name was Cathy, and the class was composed of six girls, around my age and very eager to learn.
Well, in the proceeding three hours, we learned it all! We learned how to cast on, knit, pearl, cast off, and after several jokes about holes and "cat bums," she taught us the proper way to add and subtract stitches to create lace! I really enjoyed it and am busy working on my project: a simple scarf composed completely of knitted stitches (no pearling patterns). But once it's finished, I can move on to all sorts of things- i.e. lace. :) Cathy was a wonderful instructor and maybe next fall, once I'm more comfortable with all the stitches, I'll try another of The Loop's courses on circular knitting (hats, socks, mittens, etc).
[Photo is not my scarf. Just an example of "lace" so you know what I'm talking about.]
Photo by Sally Some rights reserved.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


So I'm back at school. Things have been really dreary around here, weather wise. The first day I was back, I was awfully jet lagged. I was also home alone for about 24-hrs, and had no visual human contact (just phone) so I had a little bout of depression. I was discontent and moody and just fussy at life.
Needless to say, things are a better now. I'm a little concerned about how I'm going to be once I'm out of school, because I don't seem to do well when I'm not busy. However, I suppose I'll be busy enough- just no vacations! :P
I have signed up for six classes (another symptom of my love of school) and one of them is a correspondence class in Anatomy through the school. It's quite simple. Read the textbook, take online quizzes, take open book midterms and finals, yes. I will do well. Especially since it is mostly a review from biology. Plus I'm motivated because the subject area interests me. I don't know how someone could take this class with no interest, just for the A for example, because it's all individual reading of a huge textbook. But alas, I like that sort of thing.
My friend Jenna is taking it with me. We had planned on taking it together this summer, but it fit into her schedule now, so here we are, in the Dal McCulloch Museum surrounded by stuffed birds. She's reading the course outline, and I'm writing on my blog about my new friend.
See, the McCulloch Museum is connected to the science department here at Dal. It's full of stuffed birds, from ducks to bald eagles. There are also conch shells and aquariums. This is where Sunshine lives. He's quite shy, but this is probably the quitest room in the school to study, so I've spent a couple hours now, watching him flutter about. He gives hope that winter will end soon, with his neon yellow glow. What a cheery fish. :)
Picture by Nathan Drupert, Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, Non-derivative Licence.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Don't worry. I'm doing something better tonight than blogging, probably involving fondu. Happy New Year everyone!

I don't take New Year's resolutions as seriously as some. I think many people feel they can change their life cold turkey. I like to think of myself as more reflective and gradual, though that may be inaccurate. I don't know. In any case, I always have trouble coming up with goals worthy of the title, "resolution." But here it goes- Resolutions for 2010:

1) Be more consistent in my blogging and journaling. It seems that area of my life has gone on a bit of a hiatus the last few months, but I do miss it and appreciate the insight it gives myself and some others into my life. Also, I'm still not taking an English class, so some writing will do me good.
2) Memorize more. I have been working on this a little with the Westminster Shorter Catechism, but I want to work on my memory more. Again, math doesn't lend itself to this area of my development because it is more important to understand than just memorize, but I think it's an important part of learning. Maybe memorize a passage or a poem every now and again.
3) Vary my reading. As I have mentioned before, I feel like I've been reading a lot of theology and math, which is all well and good, but I want to change things up a bit. Maybe throw in some Jane Austen or Tolken, and the book my uncle got me for Christmas that seems to fit in the sci-fi category (he agrees I need to vary my reading).
4) Establish myself as a geocacher. I think I made the impression from my last post that I am wary of this geocaching thing or reluctant about my commitment. Not at all. I'm all in. I really enjoy this sport/activity/thing and would like to do more. Right now, I've found 14 caches, and I think if I put some effort into it, I could get 50 more by next year. It will just take some time, and hopefully the company of people who would like to join me.
5) Finish my double wedding ring quilt. This will be the only resolution that is pass/fail. I would really like to get it done this summer, but it's going to be the most challenging and large (king) quilt I've done. It's got twists and curves, where all I've really done before is straight lines. Eeek! But I should probably get a good start on it soon. I starting the washing and ironing with Grandma last week, and it's going to be pretty once it's finished!