Friday, 30 July 2010

Girls Night Recipe - Butternut Squash Soup

While Erin in Alberta my prefer to bake, she is actually a pretty healthy person. (In terms of fitness I dare say she can't be topped; baseball, running, boot camp, the girl is incredible and helped me train for my first 5k -- but I digress.) She also cooks healthy things and suggested this recipe to me. It sounds delicious, I love squash it is one of my favorite vegetables!

Butternut Squash Soup
(Actually Healthy and Delicious!)
From ERin

3 cups of chopped potatoes
3 cups of chopped butternut squash
2 tbsp of butter
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup of shredded spinach
1 cup of chopped onion
2 tbsp cider vinegar

In a pot, sauté butter, onions until soft
Add potato, squash, and chicken broth- boil until vegetables are soft (1/2 an hour)
Add spinach, cider and salt and pepper.

Thursday, 29 July 2010


Well, I have made it to Harbin. I just woke up in a hotel that Yen and I are staying in for two nights, which is a nice rest from the breakneck speed we have been going at for the last few days. A quick run down of my time in China so far; Arrive around Midnight on Monday, stay in a hotel in Beijing and wake up early to catch a 9;30 am train to Datong. Spend all of Tuesday on the train, which was great fun since it was very old, we were on a sleeper car so had bunks, and we (through Yen) got to talk to some Datong locals ahead of time get the low down on the city. Arrived in Datong in the late afternoon, stayed in a nice hotel near the center, ate at the hotel restaurant which was my first real experience with frightening Chinese food, the menu was quite intimidating complete with pictures and English translations. Woke up very early on Wednesday to catch an organized tour to the Hanging Temples and Buddhist Grottoes. (I had been looking forward to these two sites and they had been the reason for this side visit to Datong, beyond my wildest imagination, so beautiful, impressive, and amazing. Even as an English Major it is hard to find the words to describe what it is like to see them. I hope the pictures I took do a better job or that I find better words by the time I get back home.) The tour took all day and once we arrived back at the hotel in the early evening we were picked up by a driver who took us back Beijing, a more expensive option but much quicker and more comfortable than the night train. It took a while to find a hotel by Bejing Central Train Station, once we did we slept right away as it was very late. We had a bit of a sleep in since the train yesterday to Harbin was not until 2pm. We spent all of Thursday on the train, in the seat section, however it was a new high speed train so these were very spacious and comfortable. Getting into Harbin late last night we went straight to the hotel to sleep. Today is Friday and we are going to tour around and stay here again for another night.

Guest Writer - Automobiles - Steph

From Stephanie Beach, writer of The Great Abyss
Photos by Stephanie Beach Photography:

Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Part III My Bumblebee

The story of my car is long, though interesting. To read it in full you can go here. In short, I got T-boned over a year ago on my way to work and Dave and I ended up buying a ‘new’ 2008 Honda Fit.
The point of this blog is not really the story behind the car, but the cuteness of the car itself. I am told it looks like a bumblebee. I do see this aspect if you open the door and look at it head on. The door look like the wings and the antenna looks like, well the bee’s antenna.

The car also has three hearts on its bum as that is the logo of the dealership we bought it in (well one heart, but there is one of the sticker and two on the license plate cover).

Despite, or perhaps because of, its cuteness, the car is perfect for us. The interior is quite large and Dave actually fits into the car without hunching over or feeling cramped. It has great gas mileage, though does have a small gas tank so we are still filling up just as often. It also holds a lot of stuff.
We love our car and it ‘fits’ us perfectly (I know, corny).

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


I am in China!! However, my blog (and Facebook) is blocked, by the Chinese government. They block all blogspot blogs. So, I'm trying to do my postings through this email thing and I hope it works. Hopefully I will get full access in a couple of weeks in Mongolia. Thoughts so far: Wow, this place is really Chinese, way more than I thought it would be.

Guest Writer - Trains - Steph

From Stephanie Beach, writer of The Great Abyss:

Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Part II
Love Train

I have taken several train rides in my life, but the one I remember the best is the one I took to see Dave in the summer of 2004.

That was the first summer we were separated. After our first year of university we both went to our respective hometowns which were 4 hours (driving) apart. It was a very difficult summer and despite the phone calls, emails and care packages we sent each other it was very hard to get through it without him. We visited each other a couple times during those 4 months, he drove down to see me once and I took the train from Brockville to Cobourg to see him.

My dad drove me to the station after my mom bought me my ticket using her Sears card (she was afraid to use any other credit card online). As I hadn’t been on a train since I was very little, I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about things. I stepped on board and went to what I thought was my seat. Turns out it was the right seat number but it was in the wrong section of the train. Luckily though, it didn’t seem to matter. I hadn’t wanted to let go of my bag so instead of putting in the baggage area up front, I sat with it in my lap the entire ride. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you how long that ride actually was as I was nervous about missing my stop and seeing Dave. Eventually we pulled into Cobourg. I stepped off the train and saw Dave and I was so happy.

Those are good memories.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Guest Writer - Planes - Steph

From Stephanie Beach, writer of The Great Abyss
Photos by Stephanie Beach Photography:

Plane, Trains and Automobiles - Part I
3 Flights

I have taken 3 round-trip flights in a plane in my lifetime – All within the last two (ish) years. As I am not the greatest with nausea I thought flying would be a rather unpleasant experience for me, but it was actually pretty good.

I started off with a big one, Ottawa to Montreal to London, England (and back ten days later). It was a 6 and half hour long trip (there, 7+ hours return) and could have been miserable. But it was actually pretty fun. My ears popped pretty quickly when we were ascending and there was little to no turbulence. There were no crying babies that I remember and the seats were really comfy.
The two flights since then have been shorter, but less pleasant. For example, when I flew from Ottawa to Chicago for work, the plane was very small and experienced a great deal of turbulence. It was also packed and my iPod was out of batteries going in both directions.
The most recent flight was from Syracuse, NY to NY, NY to Tampa Bay, FL. The way down was fine, but the way home was a little bumpy and led to me getting a little uncomfortable. But I was fine and it also wasn’t that long (5 hours in total I think).
When it comes right down to it, I lean more towards being a fan of flying than not. Though I can see how people wouldn’t enjoy it – but really, how else are you going to see the world?!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Guest Writer - Flying - Nadia

From Nadia, writer of Who Gives A Blog?:

Your Ad Here

We’re being bombarded from all sides on a daily basis. Not by weapons of mass destruction, but by another arguably evil force: advertising.

We see it everywhere: newspapers, magazines, television, radio, billboards, buses, Google ads, those annoying expanding ads that come across whatever web page you’re trying to read. Even our Rogers cable guide displays a Tim Hortons ad. Promise after broken promise:

- Our beer will get you laid, or at the very least surrounded by sexy, scantily clad women (if you’re one of the rich, good-looking studs on the commercial)
- Our diet plan guarantees results or your money back (but good luck actually getting a hold of us for a refund)
- Our cell phone network is the most reliable (within city limits, off peak hours, and in ideal weather conditions)

But what put things into perspective was our recent Air Canada flight to the Dominican Republic. We boarded the plane, a flight that cost us hundreds of dollars each. I started going through the entertainment menu on the little screen in front of me: Movies, television shows, and more, with previews to ensure you select the right diversion for the next couple of hours. Then you hit Play.

I was anticipating the beginning of my selection when I was instead subjected to commercial vomit: nearly 10 minutes of Air Canada self-promotion, credit card ads and tourism ads telling me where I should fly to next. No way to exit or turn it off. You just have to bend over and take it.

You’d think that forking over the money for a flight would buy me a little commercial-free air time, but you’d be wrong. Is there nowhere left we can go, to escape the clutter and the noise?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

And We Are Beautiful

I have photoshoots with Steph all the time. Sometimes she needs to do an assignment, so I model for her, and sometimes I want a certain shot (like my tattoo photos) so I ask her to do it. At my cottage birthday weekend we did a quick one of all the girls who were going out dancing. Since our make-up was done, and we were all dressed up, why not? Steph did an amazing job and I hope to get some printed to hang in Kristen and my Toronto apartment. Check it out on Flicker. There is a great shot of Kristen, Taylor, and I. Also the one of Jerrica and I laughing was during a moment when we were trying to be serious but just couldn't, it brings back great memories and really makes me miss Jer. However, my absolute favourite one is the colour shot of Teri where she looks just a little pissed off at something, she is so beautiful!! While there you should check out more of Steph's pictures on her Flicker account as they are all really well done. (There might be a set just of me...)

Wanting To Come Too - Teri

Teri's farewell present to me reminded me of what my mom used to do when I went to camp, except with a different fun little twist. The best part of camp was always getting mail. However, my mom felt that even if she sent a letter the day I left, it probably wouldn't get there until later in the week and maybe it would even miss me. She would write out little cards for each day and send them with me to open. Teri has done the same thing, the difference being that I get a new note for each new place that I travel to. She also included a picture of her in a thematic hat (dependant on the area I'm visiting) for me to take pictures with. The notes include suggestions of places to take the picture. It has been a fun little challenge and I have been e-mailing them to her as I do them. Here is the collection of Teri's in hats:


New countries need to know I'm from the best place on earth to live (and people need to know that I'm not American.) Mike made fun of me because he thinks it is uncentred and crooked, however even with my obsession about symmetry, I think I did a pretty good job. I'm proud of it, especially since it took about an hour. Interesting note: I sewed this on myself, in Edmonton, with a Canadian Forces issue sewing kit that comes complete with a thimble, that I needed to use as the patch was tough to punch the needle through. Oh, Canada!

Itinerary Update - China

Pre-Scheduled Post:
As per my trip itinerary (bar any issues/changes/complications etc.)
I should be ....

Flying to China!!
On Air China flight CA992 leaving Vancouver International Airport (Terminal M) at 13:50 on Sunday July 25, 2010 landing in Beijing, China, Capital Airport (Terminal 3) on Monday July 26, 2010 at 16:15. I'm flying with Yen and since he cares about this type of thing I guess I should tell you we will be flying in an Airbus Industrie A330, I don't really know what that is beyond some type of big plane but some people pay attention to that detail. The trip is about 14 hours in the air, I'm glad I don't have any stop overs or connections to make.


Great reading from the wedding I just attended with Yen...

On Marriage
By Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

From The Prophet (1923)

Friday, 23 July 2010

Wanting To Come Too - My Co-workers

At Justice, I had the greatest, funniest, and strangest set of co-workers. Upon hearing about my big trip, and departure from the public service, they sprung to action and decided to give me the random good-bye present of finger puppets. (See photo on Right.) At lunch on the last day, 10 of them (my team and some friends from other areas in the branch) each presented me with a finger puppet that represented them, and explained why. They came in a little pouch, which I have packed them (and the pins from Kate) in for the trip. I amgoing to put them on in front of important landmarks and take pictures so that they can feel part of the adventure. I miss my work buddies, I really did love the people at Justice!

Girls Night Recipe - Chocolate Cake With Glaze

Alberta Erin may have moved away (to Alberta if you didn't catch that) but even without tasting her latest creations I'm pretty sure she is one of the best cooks I know. However, she prefers to bake and has a thing for chocolate. I think every Girls Night is just screaming for a chocolate cake! Try this one:

Easy Chocolate Cake
From ERin

1 ¾ Cups of flour
2 cups of white sugar
1 ½ tsp of baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Combine all dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
Add remaining (except water).
Beat for 2 minutes.
Stir in boiling water

9x13” pan at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes

Chocolate Glaze for Cake
From ERin

1 cup of white sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp cocoa
1 cup boiling water

Combine until thickened (over low heat) in a saucepan.
Add 1 tbsp of butter and a tsp of vanilla
Spread while it is still slightly warm

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Itinerary Update - Vancouver

Pre-Scheduled Post:
As per my trip itinerary (bar any issues/changes/complications etc.)
I should be ....

Busing to Vancouver!!
I have always loved driving through the mountains. I remember being just thrilled when we took the family trip with the trailer through the Rockies and last year the drive out to Vancouver with Teri and K was so beautiful. I decided that it would be really nice, and more economical, to take the bus from Edmonton to Vancouver. Leaving at 6:30am it is a 16 hour trip that gets to the coast at 9:35pm. K is going to pick me up at the station and I'm staying at her place for the night, I'm excited to party it up in Vancouver with her again!!

Guest Writer - My City - Teri

From Teri Osmond:


I hate waiting for the streetcar and having no idea whether it will show up in 2 minutes or 20 minutes.
I love making cars wait for me as I exit the streetcar and walk to the sidewalk.

I hate that it can take half an hour to drive less than 5 kilometres.
I love being able to take the subway and not worry about traffic.

I hate the high cost of rent.
I love the range of different, distinct areas to live in the city.

I hate the number of over-priced restaurants.
I love discovering one of the city’s many great, unique restaurants by chance.

I hate the smog and pollution.
I love the many ‘hidden’ parks and ravines.

I hate the aggressive, angry drivers downtown.
I love walking around the city.

I hate being approached by people on the streets looking for donations or trying to sell me something.
I love the countless festivals, galleries, and free events – especially in the summer.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Guest Writer - My City - ERin

From ERin in Edmonton:

Edmonton- The City of Champions

Right smack in the middle of the dry, dusty prairie province of Alberta. Approximately 4000 kilometres away from my home in the 1000 Islands, my family and my friends. That’s a big move to do in 4 days. And that is exactly what I did, with my then fiancée, when we found out we were posted to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Edmonton in October of 2008.

When I first moved here I was in tears- a city so completely different than the lovely lakes and rivers of eastern Ontario; no humidity, -40°C winters and stop lights that were hung the wrong way and were painted green instead of yellow.

When my husband left the country on a 7 month deployment I really got to know Edmonton. Instead of comparing it to Ottawa and Kingston, I realized it was pretty fantastic just the way it was. The river valley was absolutely beautiful in the summer time and filled with well kept trails, there were tons of festivals and outdoor markets, and to make things even better, there were cupcake shoppes and French bakeries.

This will be my second summer in Edmonton and I can finally say that I love this city. We will probably be moved within the next 12 months, and I will have to go through the entire adjustment again in a new city, but I think I can officially say, Edmonton, Alberta is pretty awesome once you get to know it!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Wanting To Come Too - Kate & Friends

This is a big trip and I'm doing some pretty big chunks of it alone. Partly because they don't want me to feel lonely and partly because they wish they could come along, Kate arranged it so that I could 'bring my friends along with me.' She got photos of everyone (some are quite funny, great memories) and made them into pins. This was a perfect idea since the guidebooks on the Trans-Siberian say that bringing cards and pictures of friends and family are great ways to break the ice, especially with people who don't speak English. I have them packed in a pouch to travel with, though I break them out to show people and take pictures. Here they all are - chillin' on my cowboy hat on Anne's bed in Calgary:

Guest Writer - Vagas - Steph

From Stephanie Beach, writer of The Great Abyss:

Vegas Baby

I have a goal to see at least 10 Cirque du Soleil shows in my lifetime. I am currently half-way through this goal having seen the following shows:
- Quidam in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Saltimbanco in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Corteo in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- OVO in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
- La Nouba in Orlando, Florida, USA

In total there are 28 Cirque shows (with more coming out each year), 7 of which are no longer showing. So my goal of seeing 10 total is totally reasonable. It is also even more reasonable when you take into consideration that there are currently 7 permanent Cirque shows in Las Vegas alone.

Dave and I plan on going to Vegas a few times to take in these permanent shows over the next few years. We don’t want to overdo it and take them all in during one trip as that would be far too much Cirque (I think the phrase, “oh boy, they are flying through the air again while juggling flaming batons” may end up being said).

While in Vegas, we will of course take in other sites such as the casinos and other shows available, and possibly a few day trips to the wonderful sites in the surrounding Nevada area such as the Grand Canyon. A couple long weekends will likely do it – it is just a matter of getting out of the planning stage and finding the time fly down there and have some fun.

Monday, 19 July 2010


And the Rodeo was all about the announcers. The pair of American MCs could not have been more hilarious. Here are some choice phrases:
-- After a particularly high buck from a horse, "He just snapped like a $2 suitcase!"
-- When introducing a rider, "He's a daddy to a new baby!" It was all about the family, often taking about their fiancées or "Got two kids and a lovely wife called Caroline."
-- And now a word from our sponsors, "Ya know, they take real good care of us over at the Super 8, we're in good hands there." Yes, Super 8 was one of the sponsors of the event.
-- While we waited for a rider's score, "He's a good lookin' boy....with a college education."
-- After seeing the word 'Jesus' embroidered on a riders collar, "Now, that there's the best sponsor you can have."
-- "Let's here it one more time for our winners, they're simply the best!" As, the top two riders from the event did a victory lap to the Tina Turner song Simply The Best, this happened at least 8 times.
-- When introducing a rider, "This here fellow lives just 13 miles down the road from me in Wisconsin, and he never has me over for dinner." At which point the other announcer says, "Say, are you tryin' to tell us he's your son?" And, I believe it was his son.
-- When introducing a Brazilian rider (who totally kicked ass and won the Bull Riding event), "Now he don't speak a word of English, but he knows when you cheer for 'em, let's show this guy that he has some support out there."
-- And some of it was scripted, "En-tree-pure-ner-e-al." One announcer's attempt at 'Entrepreneurial' which was part of the name of one of the sponsors.
-- "He's on that like a monkey on a football!!!!!!", which I still don't fully understand.
-- One last word from those sponsors, "Oh, I have travelled all over to go to these rodeos, but I always stay at Super 8." Other announcer, "Yup, feels like home."


My Stampede Story

Hat Hair!

Picture by ERin

I was in Calgary for 3 full days but only went to the Stampede once. This was fine because to quote the website "While the Stampede is based on the Stampede grounds, the spirit can be felt all over the city." This was true; businesses had stampede themed window paintings, tons of people were wearing cowboy hats and/or boots, restaurants had stampede specials, and the general vibe was very 'rodeo' everywhere. Anne assured me, "It isn't always like this. Oh, and all those people who are working and wearing cowboy hats - they don't want to be, but are made to. A lot of people in Calgary hate the Stampede, it's mainly for the tourists." Well, as a tourist, I loved it. The Bank of Montreal bank tellers who were in cowboy-business-casual (think crisp plaid dress shirts, cowboy boots, jean pencil skirts, khaki dress pants, Texas ties, etc.) and cowboy hats, all had BMO logo patterned bright blue bandannas tied around their necks. Woah, slow down there.

ERin and I went to Stampede on Saturday with Anne's friend and roommate S and met up with their friend K once we got there. K was sporting a black cowboy hat because, as he said, it made him look more like an outlaw and the white ones make you look like a Sheriff, or worse, the Deputy. As I looked around, turns out this was true. Anne had to work and was planning on joining us in the evening so we could all go to Nashville North, which is this huge bar tent on the grounds with dancing and drinking. It always has a long line to get in supposedly, however by about 6pm the line-up was so insane we decided to go somewhere downtown and Anne ended up meeting us there instead. The place downtown was also set up just for Stampede, in a huge tent with lots of dancing and drinking.

Since I found out that I was coming to Calgary during Stampede (it wasn't planned, I booked the flight and then a month later found out that I was going to be there during the main Calgary event) and once ERin planned to join us - Anne had set Stampede things she wanted us to do/try:
-Ride the Zipper
-Try Mini Donuts
-See the Superdogs
I gather these are her favourite things at the Stampede. She also suggested trying to go and see The Grandstand Show which was a nightly song and dance spectacle complete with fireworks and much Canadiana - super cheesy but probably should be seen once. Tickets to the show were expensive and timing was an issue so we decided to forgo it especially as the main three items on the list would provide us with a 'true Stampede experience'. I was good with it (also, I love the Zipper, which no one ever wants to go on with me, so I was very excited.) Sadly, the number of things on Anne's List that ERin and I got to - zero. I think this means we will have to go back another year, be sure to get to the grounds with Anne, and get 'er done!

I had my own little list as well. Actually it was very little, besides visiting the actual grounds at least once, I wanted to do one thing - see some type of rodeo event, preferably from a seat and not standing room. Tickets to these afternoon events were insanely expensive ranging from $50 to $300 and for the most part sold out. A quick look on Kijiji showed us that people were jacking up the prices for resale. When S heard that Erin and I were going to try to see a rodeo she jumped at the chance to be our guide. This took much of the planning pressure off as she and K negotiated Rush Ticket lines, explained strange Western Rodeo competitions, picked out prime seats, and dealt with the distracted beer sellers. It is always nice to be in the hands of experts. We got Copper Section tickets from the Rush Booth - for $20, a great deal for the 3 hour event. My Stampede List - Finished, with flying colours. I did have a slight inclining to see a goat, and obviously would have loved to get some rides in, so next time there will still be things I need to do.

The Rodeo: Just F-ing Crazy!! I have been to horse events in the past. I enjoy a nice horse show, some dressage, a race at the track either with riders or carts, and even show jumping on occasion. However, this is not your British tack-style event. These are cowboys, and cowboys are psysco. We saw all six major events – Bareback, Bull Riding, Barrel Racing, Saddle Bronc, Steer Wrestling and Tie-Down Roping, as well as, Novice Bareback, Novice Saddle Bronc, Junior Steer Riding and Wild Pony Racing. This is already a long post so I won't get into explaining the nuances of each event, but over the course of the afternoon I was able to grasp the way things were scored and figure out what was good and what wasn't. All of these events are fast, intense, and very exciting. The time flew by. However, for all the ones that involved catching and/or tying up cows/calves, I cheered for the cow and was always happy when it got away. This meant no points for the rider, but hey, way to go cow!! It was also funny to watch the bulls wander around after being ridden, as some didn't want to be herded by the officials. Way to go cow, stick it to the man!!

Final Notes: I stupidly forgot to put on sunscreen and got burnt (chest and one shoulder). I just loved my cowboy hat - covered up bad hair, kept sun out of my eyes, kept my face from getting sun burnt, made me feel part of the Stampede Spirit, and was fun to wear! However, as you can see from the above picture, it gives you some pretty bad Hat Hair, especially since I have curly hair, which means I couldn't take it off at the bar - had to rock the cowboy hat all day and all night!

Guest Writer - Top Ten - Steph

From Stephanie Beach, writer of The Great Abyss:

Top Ten

Pretty much anytime I travel I take along a Top Ten Travel book. When Chris and I went to London, England she bought the London Top Ten book. When Dave and I went to Montreal, we purchased the Montreal/Quebec City book, which will later be used for our trip to Quebec City. When I had to go to Chicago for work, I of course got the Chicago book, which was later borrowed by a co-worker when he went a few months later. I also own the Las Vegas book as Dave and I will eventually be going there as well.

They are wonderful purse-sized books that let you know the best things to do in each city. They have maps both in the book itself but also ones you can take out and use during your travels. The listing are wonderful, everything from the sites to see to the places to eat and where to sleep. It takes into consideration all demographics as well as it has family sites, nightlife information and where to go depending on your sexuality. I find them very useful and as they are usually only about $12 a pop, they are well worth the money.

Sunday, 18 July 2010


Stamped was great fun as was dancing in the evening. Erin came for the weekend and we spent time hanging out with Anne and her friends. I had an amazing time in Calgary!!!
Girls from GeoConnections - Calgary Style

Itinerary Update - Edmonton

Pre-Scheduled Post:
As per my trip itinerary (bar any issues/changes/complications etc.)
I should be ....

Driving to Edmonton!!
Erin is visiting Calgary for the weekend, so that we can all go to The Stampede. I have asked if I could catch a ride with her back up to Edmonton (it is about 3 hours north) on Sunday July 18th, so as to spend a few days with Little Brother Mike. I will be staying at his house and bumming around seeing what Edmonton has to offer, hanging out more with Erin, and spending some quality time with my little brother.

Guest Writer - How I Know Chris - Steph

From Stephanie Beach, writer of The Great Abyss
Photos by Stephanie Beach Photography:

Over the Years

As most of our friends know, I met Chris in the Fall of 2003. We lived together in residence and were both starting engineering, me environmental and her mechanical. But this post isn’t about how we met, as to be honest, it isn’t that interesting since it was a pretty typical beginning to a friendship. This is a collection of photos of Chris.
Pretty much since the day I first met Chris, I have been taken her photo. Either for memories or more recently for photography assignments, she is always eager to get in front of the lens. And since she is a wonderful and inventive model, I am always happy to shoot her.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Guest Writer - How I Know Chris - ERin

From ERin in Edmonton:

How I Know Chris

I met Chris while I was a federal student worker with Natural Resources Canada at 615 Booth Street during the summer of 2008. I was the first student to arrive at the lovely federal complex, and was also the best dressed in the office on my first day. Dressing professionally eventually stopped as I soon realized that no one in the federal government dresses all that great to begin with and that really, we are all biding our time until coffee break.

Chris showed up a month or so later, strutting around in her professional, federal workers outfit and was soon introduced to the other students as well as myself. Since Chris was around all of our ages we hung out for most of that summer, getting to know each other and sampling the delicious Italian pastas and desserts on Preston Street.

The next summer I came back on contract with the same job and was rather excited to find out that Chris would be working there as well! The summer of 2008 was a pretty good bonding experience for us. We hung out a lot more, stole food from the cafeteria and went running. Ahh yes, running. Helping Chris get back into running form found me yelling things like “COME ON!!! ONLY UNTIL THE NEXT SIGN!!” and “I’M NOT YELLING!” It was a ton of fun, but the best parts were definitely going swimming at Mooney’s Bay or running around in the little water park by her house after the hour of running torture.

I moved out to Alberta at the end of that summer but kept in touch with Chris through email and phone. Chris was one of the guests at my wedding and one of my ladies at my fantastic bachelorette party. Chris and Annz definitely “brought the party”. Chris will be making the trek out to the thriving metropolis of Edmonton this summer and it will be fantastic to see her!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Girls Night Recipe - Chocolate Ganache Brownies

Every Girls Night needs a dessert!! When Alberta Erin sent me this recipe she said, "I have done these a lot and everyone loves these suckers. If you are a lucky duck I might bring some down with me to Calgary stampede :) " Well, today is the day she is driving down from Edmonton to Calgary to spend the weekend at The Calgary Stampede with Anne and I, maybe, just maybe, she will bring some along. (If not, I'm still a lucky duck for getting to go to Stampede and spend an awesome weekend with my Geography Girls!)

Chocolate Ganache Brownies
From ERin

For Days when a Mr. Christies Cookie just ain't gonna cut it:

1 cup of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
340 grams (12 oz) of bittersweet chocolate- chopped (Ghiradelli, Bernard Calibault, Dove, Purdy's, Laura Secord Chocolate are all good choices)

56 grams (2 oz) of unsweetened chocolate- chopped
6 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 cup of all purpose flour

Preheat over to 300F, line a x13 inch pan with parchment paper (allow for the paper to over hang the edges)
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat with both sugars, whisking until they are smooth and combined
Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes. Add both chopped chocolates. Whisk.
Add the eggs and whisk until SMOOTH and SHINY (could take a bit, add the eggs slowly- one at a time)
Add the vanilla and salt
Pour into prepared pan
Bake for 30-35 minutes- the centre will puff and the edges will be glossy and firm (centre will appear soft)
Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature
Refrigerate until firm
Remove from pan by lifting with parchment paper edges

Chocolate Ganache
From ERin

2 Cups (500 ml) of whipping cream
1 lb (454 grams) chopped bittersweet chocolate

Heat the cream to just below a boil (when bubbles appear around edges of saucepan)
Pour over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes
Gently whisk until smooth- try not to create air bubbles!!!!
Chill and then spread onto brownies

Girls Night Recipe - Salmon Feta Roll-Ups

Near the end of my time in Ottawa, what had started out as Pre-Drinking At Die Höhle Before The Bar somehow became potluck theme nights with the girls. Through this I became a bit more comfortable cooking, don't get me wrong, I still hate it. My friends however enjoy it and are much better cooks. So, in honour of Friday Night Girls Night here is a recipe from one of my girls:

Salmon Feta Roll-Ups
From Jenn B

This recipe is easy to make and looks fancy. Also, tastes delicious!

1 pkg of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (jumbo are easier to roll)
1 can salmon
Handful of baby spinach leaves
¾ cup of crumbled feta (sometimes I use more, if I am feeling cheesy)
Pepper, to taste

Unroll packaged of Crescent Rolls into a rectangle. Pinch together perforations if necessary. Spread salmon, spinach, and feta over top, in that order. Make sure you get as close to the edge as possible. Sprinkle with pepper.

Roll dough into a tube, carefully making sure it doesn’t tear. Slice roll in sushi-like circles. Place on greased cookie sheet and cook according to directions on the Crescent Roll wrap, minus 1 or 2 minutes. Don’t worry if they seem crumbly, once baked they will stick together.


Thursday, 15 July 2010


After an uneventful flight last night (though my row didn't have windows which was a little weird) I was met at the airport by Anne. We were both wearing cowboy hats, as is a significant percentage of the rest of the people here. (I would say depending on the area about 2% - 30% are rocking it cowboy style.) I got a tour of the city in Anne's sweet little car and a quick bite to eat at a super trendy place that reminded me just how cool and urban Anne has always been. The food and atmosphere was amazing. Actually, so far I have really loved everything about Calgary. I could definitely live here if life takes me west at some point. They have some vibrant little neighbourhoods, a booming downtown, lots of wild green spaces, really interesting geological features, and you can see mountains in the distance. Calgary has stolen a little piece of my heart and I'm very excited for my upcoming Stampede experience!

Guest Writer - Blogging - Steph

From Stephanie Beach, writer of The Great Abyss

Nothing to Say

I am not an English student nor do I travel or read on a regular basis. I am not a stay at home mom or an entrepreneur and my thoughts and opinions are neither controversial nor original. To be honest, I have nothing of great interest to say and my daily life isn’t that noteworthy. That being said, I have not one but three blogs.

I started my first blog, The Great Abyss in July of 2006 and have been publishing posts there ever since. It mostly consists of stories of my day-to-day life and random things I find on the internet. There are a few semi-regular features on this blog including, but not limited to, How-To Tuesdays and Way Back Whenesdays.

My second blog was started in December of 2007 and is entitled The Road to a Better Me. This blog was started in an attempt to motivate myself with respect to my weight loss. It is the blog I post the least frequently on, often just making the one month rule that Chris has instated for her blog links. It has one feature called Tasty Tuesdays where I post yummy recipes.

My third blog is my photography blog entitled Stephanie Beach Photography which was started in April of 2008. This was started as I wanted a dedicated place to publish my photos. I was looking to start getting my name out there as a photographer and thought this might be a good starting point.

In general I blog because it is a way I can be creative, though my writing skills are definitely lacking and apparently I am not creative enough to draw a larger audience. I blog because it makes me happy.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Itinerary Update - Calgary

Pre-Scheduled Post:
As per my trip itinerary (bar any issues/changes/complications etc.)
I should be ....

Flying to Calgary!!
So, it is the start of my trip. My big big BIG trip. The little jump over a couple of provinces to land in Calgary, Alberta isn't that exciting. However, once I land I'm meeting up with Anne, and later Erin and we are going to The Calgary Stampede! I can't wait to see the girls since it has been about a year since we were last together!! My adventure starts in Hamilton, Ontario where my WestJet plane leaves at 7pm today, Wednesday July 14th. I land later that evening in Calgary, Alberta at 9pm. So it starts...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Dash Of Culture Anyone?

If your looking for some interesting and, at times, intellectual blog reading - I would like to direct your attention to The Word On The Street Festival's Blog. The event itself looks amazing and I will be sure to check it out in September. In the mean time, I am keeping an eye on the blog to get geared up for it.
(Small point of note: Most of the posts are penned by Kristen!)

I Was Sick and Unplugged

I got very very sick on Friday. So even though I was home and had time, I didn't end up prepping blog posts for the weekend that I was going to be at the cottage. The very very sick turned into a very very bad sore throat and cold, which has me a little freaked out about flying tomorrow since if my head congestion doesn't clear soon it is just going to be killer on the ears. I have been wallowing in snot at the cottage until this morning. So all weekend I have been without internet connection. I end up feeling very cut off from the world within a day or so.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Found It

Item Lost: Camera battery charger for my small Nikon Coolpics
Time Lost: Sometime in the last couple of months
Last Place I Remember: On my desk in Ottawa
Place Found: In Jerrica's room, so it got packed into a box, had to be found, unpacked, and mailed to me

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Working With The New SLR Camera

On The Boat
By Christine Sweeton

Changes In The Comments

Like all bloggers, I live for the comments. (So, please please please comment and comment often!!) However, without protection I get spammed. I think I am the only one of my friends with a blog who doesn't use word verification. I end up getting about one spam comment everyday (usually something about downloading movies, buying Viagra and other drugs, or something strange in another language.) I normally, since I get emails anytime someone/something posts a comment, just go and delete the stupid ones. When I'm on my trip, I just won't have the time. When I was in Spain I just saved all the notification in my email inbox and did it all when I came home. I don't want to do that for this trip because I'm going to be gone for so long. I have held off as long as I could but it is time - you now have to prove you are human to post a coment on Always Standing. It now looks like this:
Please don't be scared! Everyone should be pretty familar with this type of thing. Also, for those who are new to my blog or blogging in general; posting a comment as Anonymous (but putting something in the body of the message to say who you are) is probably the best way to go about it. Happy commenting!!

The Itinerary

So I leave in less than a week on my big trip!! I don't even really have it all sorted out yet. However, as it stands at the moment these are my plans.

My Itinerary
Fly - Hamilton to Calgary - July 14th - Stampede with Anne and Erin
Drive - Calgary to Edmonton - July 18th - See Mike
Bus - Edmonton to Vancouver - July 22nd - Wedding with Yen
Fly - Vancouver to Beijing - July 25th - China
Tour/Train - Beijing to St. Petersburg - Aug 1st - China, Mongolia, Russia
Confusing bit - Still up in the air -Aug 21st - No idea
Fly - Helsinki to Reykjavik - Aug 29th - Iceland with JennB
Fly - Reykjavik to Toronto - Sept 3rd - And Done!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Found It

Item Lost: Key chains with keys
(Including; car key, cottage key, house key, JennB's fuzzy mascot gift from the Olympics, Heather's little Harrod's bear gift from England, and my Sims 3 USB drive.)
Time Lost: Yesterday morning
Last Place I Remember: Throwing them in a white laundry basket
Place Found: Underneath my cowboy hat

Took Longer Than Expected

I spent 6 hours scheduling blog posts for while I'm away, it was a very long process.I would almost call it painstaking as at the end of it I had a cramp in my back from sitting at the computer for so long. It was also insanely hot in the upstairs of my house in Paris. (All this in hopes of not losing readers while I'm away.) I wrote some, others wrote some, it looks like most days will have a post or two going up on Always Standing. More on this later! (So much to do before I leave...)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Thank You Wii

I came home and did a little test on the Wii Fit. I had first started using it right after we gave the Wii to my mom for Christmas. I tend to go on it every time I'm home and it is never happy with my progress. However a couple of weeks ago, when I first came back to Paris I stepped on the Wii Fit Board to be measured (BMI) and weighed, I discovered that I was down a lot from the last time. I had set a personal goal to loose 5 lbs in the first two weeks I was home, the deadline being this past Friday. I decided to program that into the Wii, though since it is in kg I said 2.5kg and since I was setting the goal a few days later on the Wii than I had in my head the two week time frame ends on Wednesday June 7th. I went on the Wii quickly this morning to see how my progress is going and I'm 0.6kg away from meeting my goal. The most exciting thing though is that for the first time, this morning, the BMI index moved from Obese to Overweight. (Now, I think BMI is total crap and should have moved down a while back but I will take the compliment!)

Saturday, 3 July 2010

My Poetic Friends

By JennB
To convocate is quite a feat,
Six years in the making for Chris.
She started as an engineer
But finished in worded bliss.

English is by far the better degree,
And to what we owe this poem.
But she made good friends on the other side
Like Steph and Dave and that guy from Rome

She’s lived all over the Glebe Lite,
In Le Manoir and Die Hohle.
Brought trusty Binx along with her,
And in his room her boyfriend had a pole.

Hummus will never be the same for us
And you so don't live downtown.
The K in Karleton stands for Kwality
I can see your labia through your gown.

This afternoon was about academic success
We hope you had a super day.
We also hope you've waxed your legs
Cause we're going to Mooney's Bay!

By Kate
There once was a girl named Christine
Who's culinary skills were obscene!
When faced with the oven
She did not feel the lovin'
And she'd default to a can of green beans.

(Note: Everything said in these poems is true, they know me so well.)

Friday, 2 July 2010

Better Than Convocation

Now that I have graduated comes the newspaper announcement in the weekend Family Celebrations section...
Published in the Brantford Expositor on Saturday June 26th, 2010:


Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Queen!!


Went to parliament hill this morning and had a great spot to watch the raising of the flag, changing of the guard, and musical ride. After this they opened up the section of the lawn that had been blocked off for it and everyone made a mad dash across it to get a good spot close to the stage for the show at noon. We sprinted and get a section right against the barriers. Unfortunately there was a huge camera in front of us, then miraculously it was moved and we have a perfect view of the stage. Look how close we were!!
As the most exciting thing, The Queen came and sat on the stage for the entire time (in that little blue area right above my head in the above picture.) She even gave a little speech!!
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II