building new castles every day

Posts Tagged ‘friends’

summer weekend

In Doings on July 15, 2011 at 10:21 AM

What a glorious summer weekend. Full of…


Pool parties.



Live music.


New friends.

New inspiration.

And it’s already time for another weekend!


french beach

In Feelings on July 10, 2011 at 9:46 AM

Filmed at French Beach Provincial Park, just west of Sooke, British Columbia.

crepes with cam

In Eatings on November 13, 2010 at 11:06 PM

Back in October, when I was spending far too much time in the windowless office and thus ignoring this blog, I was fortunate to have one of the best mornings of my life. Wow, you say, that’s quite a statement. Oh, it is. And it was! Inventive food, table drawing, a large window with perfect lighting, and superb company. I ask for little else.

Having done no planning apart from “I’ll text you in the morning when I wake up”, we winged the menu. Cam arrived with a sampling of apples recently purchased from the UBC Farm Market and the best Concord grapes, in three different shades!

We took stock of my fridge and pantry. Some cheese, some cinnamon, eggs and milk. “Crepes!” I cried and raced to the book shelf for the recipe for my father’s staple dish.

As many Saturday mornings as I can remember being kid, my dad would cook breakfast. Nothing fancy, he’d say, just some rolled-up pancakes. That’s what we called ’em — rolled-up pancakes. Then he’d reach into his memory and tell me about my Oma making him pancakes with soup for dinner when he was a kid.

While I whipped up the crepe batter (2 eggs, 1.5 cups of milk, 3/4 cup each of all-purpose and whole wheat flour), Cam prepared our apple stew. He added no sugar that I saw, just three types of apple, cinnamon, and whatever other spices he found in my cupboards. I think it really is texturific when the skins are left on the apples before stewing!

We tried the first crepe with just the stew and some grated gruyere. Savoury, yes. Good, yes. But not exactly what we had in mind (if coming up with a dish on the spot constitutes having something particular “in mind”). A factor was missing. We pondered. We smacked our palettes.

Something nutty?

Something garlicy?

But of course — hummus!

So into my food processor we dumped a can of chickpeas, dollops of tahini, some lemon juice, garlic and water from the peas. Blend to a state of cream. And the result?

I wish I could show you the video reaction from Cameron as he assembled and consumed the first combination of these flavours. The natural sweetness of the apple mixed gently with the nuttiness of the gruyere and garlic of the hummus. Paired with strong cups of milky coffee and sharp, juicy grapes, the two of us doodled away across my kitchen table.

A morning I continue to savour.

raid the cupboards and make something

In Doings, Eatings on October 9, 2010 at 6:50 AM

“Do you guys want to grab a hot chocolate, or…something?”

Andrea, Cam and I had just walked out of one of my favourite locales, the Museum of Vancouver. Grant Lawrence had just entertained us with snipits from his new book, Adventures in Solitude, along with music from his cute, nervous and highly talented wife, Jill Barber (her swooning, nasally voice stops me in my tracks), and some kids from Said the Whale. A range of ages filled the audience, enjoying Grant’s somewhat Stuart Maclean-esque story telling, what with all the minute, human details of his six-year old nausea experiences on the way to the one of many ferries to Desolation Sound.

Then we wandered through the museum’s current Home Grown exhibit and got all inspired to make something. So instead of dropping dosh at a cafe, I invited my good friends home to have some tea and baking fun!

We raided my cupboards for ingredients — huzzah for a can of pumpkin, it’s time to prepare for Thanksgiving!

Cam and I raced to find a great blog recipe for pumpkin scones and I have to say, I’m glad Cam won. Bread & Honey offers an easy, sweet recipe that is delicious even without the icing. We just modified it slightly, leaving out the nutmeg and cloves (I need to stock up my baking spices) and used some of my endless — you got it — buttermilk.

Pumpkin Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 large egg

  1. Preheat oven to 425*F. Pull out your baking sheet and oil or parchment-line it if necessary.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor (or your good ol’ hands!), cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.
  4. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
  5. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 14-17 minutes (depending how powerful your little, aging gas stove is). Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool. Or tuck in immediately!

“I remember all the shit I use to consume when I worked at Starbucks,” Andrea reminisced as we tucked into our freshly-baked scones.

“Yeah, there’s no need for them to pack thousands of calories into one baked good when all you need is flour, butter, an egg…all whole, simple ingredients,” pondered Cam.

We all nodded in agreement, our delightedly full mouths too content to allow otherwise.

Have a great Thanksgiving, folks.

this pie’s for you

In Doings, Eatings, Thinkings on October 5, 2010 at 11:59 PM

For Cam,

who questions as much as I do.

We are ok as we are — I promise.

Tuesday evenings are turning into a ritual, ever since Fox and CBC unknowingly scheduled two of my favourite shows on the same night, back to back. Glee and Being Erica have initiated a girls’ evening of dinner, drinks and drama (and high school show tunes, of course).

Tonight was my night for the recipe. On the weekend I had picked up a leek and some crimini mushrooms (so sick of the standard white mushrooms, I am). I’ve been picking from my idea bank based on the first that comes to mind. And I had pie on the brain.

Memories of hearty steak-and-ale renditions enjoyed while spending winter breaks in Southwest Wales must have influenced this craving, as did the taste of Cam’s vegan shepherd’s pie still lingering in my kitchen. Plus, the orphan roll of puff pastry in my freezer was singing to me.

It no longer had to suffer, for tonight we had pie! Here’s what you do for…

Mushroom and Leek Chicken Pie

These measurements are based on a standard Google search for the above title. Brianna and I tweaked it to fit our pie plate, and dealt with a lesser quantity of puff pastry quite well! So take this list and quantity of ingredients with a grain of salt. Or actually, don’t add salt. There’s enough in the chicken broth.

3 large chicken thighs
1.5 cups finely sliced leeks
1.5 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
tbsp olive oil
tbsp butter
tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth
lots of ground pepper
heavy teaspoon of dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
sheet of butter puff pastry
an egg, beaten

  1. Take chicken thighs. Chop into pieces, fry for about 5 minutes in the heated oil. Remove, but leave the oil in the pan.
  2. Throw in sliced leeks for 3 minutes until soft; remove. Then do the crimini mushrooms for 2-3 minutes, letting them breathe and lose some liquid.
  3. Place both veg in pie plate with chicken.
  4. Into remaining oil put a tablespoon each of butter and flour. Blend until creamy.
  5. Stir in two cups of chicken broth until a gravy forms. Pour over the chicken and veg.
  6. Cover gently with a sheet of butter puff pastry. Curl hanging pastry edges over the pie plate.
  7. Glaze with the egg. Make light score marks diagonally across the pastry (this will help it puff up during baking).
  8. Bake at 400*F for roughly 30 minutes, until that darling is golden brown.

Serve it hot with some steamed broccoli and equal helpings of red wine and television.

what can’t be packaged in pop music?

In Feelings, Hearings, Thinkings on August 9, 2010 at 9:51 AM

The other day a best girlfriend introduced me to the new Eminem and Rihanna track. Though I hold my preferences, I’m fairly open to new music. So in her car, I opened my ears to her recommendation.

First I just paid attention to the well-produced, tried and tested beats and the sweet, pained call of Rihanna’s chorus vocals. I liked it. Catchy. Then I started to take in the lyrics.

“Love the way you lie?” I queried, perplexed, double-checking I wasn’t hearing incorrectly.

“It’s an awesome song. It’s the words. They makes sense to me.”

My friend has been on and off with a guy for over the last year. We all have friends like this; perhaps we’ve been that friend. Perhaps the relationship’s foundation was rocky; perhaps you’ve broken trust; perhaps the commitment isn’t balanced; perhaps someone isn’t being honest with themselves; perhaps the communication just isn’t there. But you want it to work. So you make up, calm down. But the next flare up hits and the cycle begins again. You know in your gut that you’re not yourself or the best of yourself when you’re in the relationship. But for whatever reason, we keep coming back.

My friend and I listened to “Love the Way You Lie” several times that weekend. Each time I heard more and more of what I was scared to voice: she was in an emotionally abusive relationship.

And now there’s a song for that. That scares me.

It’s not the subject that scares me. I’m quite aware that such relationships exist. And I’d rather people talk about their relationships, use our friends for support, get our worries out into the open so we’re not bottling them alone.

I also get that passion and rage are of the same cloth, and many of us feed off both emotions in a relationship. Vampire sex is hot right now. Sex and biting, feeding off pain, etc. We’re watching it, reading it. We like it. And it’s been written about, sung about, made movies about before. I get it.

What does scare me is the way pop music wraps up volatile subjects in catchy tunes and then gets pumped into public places (Tim Hortons line up!) for men and women of all ages to consume passively.

Is this ok? When such a subject is masked in pretty packaging, does the subject matter become acceptable? Does it become status quo? Does it become, ugh, normal?

Let’s not forget the fact that Rihanna herself was in a high-profile abusive relationship — what is this saying about her, that she’s now professing her desire for such cyclical pain and insanity? I don’t care if she means it personally or not. This isn’t even about the young girls who look up to her. It’s about our society in general and how relationships are normalized and consumed.

Why is this my business, anyway, you ask. If I’m not in such a relationship, and if I’m so snooty about my music choices, I don’t have to listen to this. I can change the radio station, not download the track, not Google the video.

But I have to care because it’s out there. Because I know this cycle too; I know it’s hard to break. And because I know people in such relationships right now, and they are my best friends. These are strong, passionate, caring women who, like myself, are not immune to the urge to care for a broken man. But, like many of us (myself included), find ourselves in patterns that we are acutely aware are not good for us, yet we don’t change.

And I care because I want us to start talking about what’s happening to us in our relationships. There’s not enough of it. Call up your friends, tell them what’s confusing you, and listen to how they respond. Don’t be ashamed of confused emotions, don’t be scared to voice doubts. Best friends are the most honest. We love you enough to tell you the truth. And we know it’s hard to hear the truth, but really we’re just echoing your gut.

So let’s not just package the issue up in pop production techniques. Let’s talk. Please.

To clarify, I have spoken openly with my friend who I refer to here. This post isn’t a not-so-subtle plea for her to realize what’s going on in her relationship. She knows and has identified it herself. This post came about because of my introduction to this song. There have been other comments and criticisms on the Rihanna-Eminem video.

furthermore, an Okanagan wedding

In Doings on August 7, 2010 at 7:32 AM

Part 3…

(Or, if you have no idea what I’m on about, try 1 and 2!)

Not only were Tina and I invited to the ceremony and reception, we also got to attend a morning-after brunch in Peachland!

While we waited for our ride that morning, we headed for the lake. There we found:


an invasion of growth,

fresh water,

a giant sling shot

which we returned, with love;

neat-o tags,

the spread,

beautiful eyes and stripes,

sunny Okanaganites,

friendly mooching,

homemade jam,

a promenade to pass the time,

the bluest dock,

and a dragon fly to match!

catch up: an Okanagan wedding

In Doings on August 7, 2010 at 7:30 AM

This and the next post are about a month and a half overdue. But for sake of documenting my life (and for your viewing pleasure), I’d like to offer the remaining photos from Courtenay and Dustin’s wedding in Kelowna, BC.

Part 2…

After our venue explorations, we took to the lawn for a warm-up. (You know, just testing the equipment)

The next obvious task was a jump shot.

Or two!

The officiant and photographer’s assistant (official photos here) chatted in preparation,

while Mother Nature prepared her own wedding gift.

Dustin, so nervous (bless!), dispersed his valuables amongst the guests. Made for an interesting treasure hunt later, but I got to hold Court’s engagement ring!

I’ve been to a wedding before — didn’t cry, didn’t feel compelled to — the bride and groom were known to me for a year or so and only a little more than that to each other.

But Courtenay and Dustin?

They had grown and developed their relationship for the past seven years. I beamed for them, I joined in their choking tears as they professed their vows — raw joy.

When my tears dried and I had grabbed some champagne (and a mouthful of tapas), I found:

magenta pink and Gerbera daisies for the bride’s ladies,

guests in pretty dresses,

a majestic bird bath,

herbs in waiting,

Courtenay’s attention to detail,


token mini guests,

and Mother Nature’s finale.

Snoop more on Okanagan Wedding here!

get outside, find a gem

In Doings on July 15, 2010 at 11:42 PM

It’s been Groundhog Day of work for nearly a week, and the end is not in sight. Harbour Centre has become my adopted home. And though I am surrounded by the most exciting, idea-developing people in the publishing industry, I could really do with some of that vitamin D being dumped out on the external world.

So it was a true relief to meet up with Lisa this evening. Out of the classroom walls; out of the Main to Third to Second Floor via elevators then escalators and sometimes stairs; out of the printing room; and especially out of my office. I used a work errand to mask my real reason for escape: sanity retention. Or rather, a reminder of the world that is the source of all books (and eBooks too).

And what did the world remind me of? Well, my love for hidden gems in your home town, that’s what.

Should you walk your way east down Water Street sometime, on your left you will find a wee courtyard. Notice the sandwich board on the sidewalk pointing up to The Deli Cottage. “Soups. Sandwiches. Drinks. Panoramic Views.” We were sold. Up we went.

Within steps away from the Gastown streets the world got quiet. But as we approached the not-much-to-shout-about shop front, acoustic Cuban music touched our ears. Our hips rocked our curious legs inside and our feet found hardwood floors, our hands touched tall brick walls, and our eyes delivered the evening light through big windows facing out onto the railway yard and, on this clear evening, to the buildings of North Vancouver. We bought drinks and a slice of baclava. The four men playing their guitars, bass and drums kept the hip-shaking rhythm as we climbed our way up to the loft seating area.

Lisa and I were the only patrons in the house. And we loved it. We shared ideas about book clubs, pot luck plans, future living arrangements, work, men, and how we fall in love with Vancouver a little bit more each day. ‘Tis a shame I didn’t have my camera (blog are so much better with photos, we cry!) but I assure you, we will be returning to our little find for lunch soon. (And having that honey-dense baclava again. Drool.)

eh, Canada, I think I love you

In Makings, Thinkings on July 1, 2010 at 11:28 AM

So I’ve been doing my anti-rain dance today. My scissors are crossed too, and I’ve got my glue stick ready to adhere the sun to the Vancouver sky. Why? It’s Canada’s 143rd birthday and we want to party!

But as great as nice weather would be, it’s the company I’m looking forward to. It takes great people to make great ideas happen and I’m excited to have two handfuls of dear friends gung-ho for a park potluck and minor league baseball game — and fireworks — on this July 1 holiday.

If I could, though, I would teleport all my Canadian friends to Queen Elizabeth Park this afternoon. That’s the trouble with our country: it’s just so darn wide. But it’s a bittersweet kinda thing because when we do cross the long distances to finally see each other, it makes the meeting so worthwhile, so genuinely satisfying, so heartwarming to know that time and space can’t fade some friendships.

This is exactly how I felt when I finally met up with Jess and Jon last weekend after two years! Though we’ve only been the Straight of Georgia away from each other, life took our courses far and wide — her to law school, marriage and international wheelchair basketball, and me, well, you know that story. We had a great evening together, dining on Glo‘s patio and filling in the gaps. If growing up means reconnecting with great people, I’ll be ok with this aging business.

Lobster anyone?

And then there’s my dearest Caroline and Rob who are currently en route heading west across the country. After finishing university and enjoying five years on the East Coast, my pen pal and her partner are at last making their big move from Halifax to Victoria. I last saw C&R in December, spending a restful and reflective week in their Halifax home. They were conduits to a turning point (literally and figuratively) in my post-university turmoil and I cannot articulate how happy I am that these two wonderful people will be relocating back to BC.  Maybe we can finally get that book club we’ve been talking about up and running at last!

Bundled for the Nova Scotian winter and chatting up a storm.

Ah, and Ashley, my former soccer teammate who is now my teammate in “life uncertainty”. Thanks to BC Ferries, we were able to play soccer together again, watch some World Cup, eat pancakes at her parents’ retirement condo on the Gorge, and hash out our ideas for the future. With an urge to do something different, she will head to Shanghai in August to teach English. I think I will just have to go visit her again there.

There are so many more people I’d like to bring together. I find myself reflecting on my trip across the country last winter and grateful I kept a travel blog along the way. If there’s one thing I don’t regret doing ever, it’s taking the time to document.

Anyway, now that it’s a new month, it’s time to turn the calendar page. Or rather, re-draw the calendar!

Out with the old...

...and in with the new!

And here’s a flashback I Stumbled upon of our national goofy uncle.  Alrighty then.