Friday, 27 April 2012

Las Vegas Recap (brief)

Matthew and I returned from Las Vegas on Wednesday evening. It was just as fabulous as we remembered. On the weekend (Saturday, Sunday, Monday) Las Vegas was experiencing record high temperatures, like 35 degrees plus. All in all, we tended more towards the relaxation than the adventuring. We treated it like Honeymoon v2.0, and concentrated our time on the spa, pool, shops and restaurants.

We didn't take very many pictures, but here is a couple of us on our last night in town:

Our view of the fountains and the Eiffel Tower from the Bellagio terrace.

Me at The Sugar Factory in Paris Las Vegas, with a cup of tea the size of my head.

Matthew with a litre of malted milkshake and the biggest raspberry cream crepes in the universe.

At Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant in Bellagio.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Meeting Deadlines

Last university term, which ended in November, I blogged about how at grad school deadlines are something you create for yourself. So I got a bit of a surprise when, this term, all my final essays had to be in at once, on two certain days. Hah. Yeah. Right.

So I exercised my negotiating skills early in the semester. I was allowed reasonable extensions for two of the papers, and I decided to tough it out and meet the original deadline for the third.

Today marks deadline number one, and I totally met it, at 10am. And because there is still a day and a half until Vegas (!!!!!!1!!) I have time to prepare for essay number two.

This week is a good week. And not just because of actually turning in a final paper and going to Vegas. This morning to reward myself for meeting deadline number one, I walked down to Granville Island and acquired a kilo of strawberries and two fancy cheeses. (Later I tried to go bather shopping, but there is nothing rewarding about that.)

This evening, Matthew and I will be watching the last half of a Timothy Dalton Bond (he is much the saddest Bond) and eating some incredible cheese. And tomorrow, the cousins are coming over to have lots of strawberries in their cocktails. (Whether they like it or not. A kilo of strawberries is a LOT of strawberries).

Just before I go continue to be a Lady of Leisure this afternoon, I feel like I should clarify my position on The Bonds. Matthew has been reading Casino Royale (the first Ian Fleming book about Bond) aloud to me. This has made me realise that, yes, Sean Connery is the most literary Bond. So as far as upholding the spirit of the character, he totally wins, and does not deserve to be called 'loathsome' by me. But Roger Moore is so much prettier.

Also, the 1980s was a bad decade for hair, costumes, set decoration, spy gadgetry, and plot. Shame, 1980s, shame.

Two days until Vegas!! And only 13000 more words to go!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Daily goals = Achieved!!

Today I:
  • Wrote not 500, but 800 words
  • Did not eat any sugar except for fresh fruit (even an apple, which I hate more than ever)
  • Went for a 5k run OUTSIDE! Like, not on a treadmill!
Imagine that I am preening and strutting, because that's what I'm doing right now.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sleepy Sunday

In the commitment to blog more often, I will increasingly find myself with not much to report. But blogging, like other writing, is a discipline, and I badly need some of that at the moment.

Friday Night Game

Matthew expressed an interest in watching the second Canucks/Kings play-off (this is ice hockey, for the non-Canadians reading). Every bar and restaurant near us has big screen tvs, so we had our choice of locations (since we liquidated our tv, Matthew simply had to take me out to dinner if he wanted to watch the game). We chose the Korean Barbeque and Sushi place on Granville, and then after dinner we went right next door to Caffe Barney. Lots of people were wearing the Canucks blue jerseys, and everyone was seriously watching the game at Barney's, not just glancing at the screen in between small talk. It was a fun way of combining cocktails with spectator sport. But Vancouver got totally thrashed (again) by Los Angeles. So the mood was not too jolly afterwards.

Perfect Saturday

We walked over to Main St yesterday for some wargaming supplies and a raspberry tart & tea. The weather was perfect, and so warm that I took my jumper off! On the way home, Matthew made friends with a lovely exotic looking cat with deep blue eyes and sort of siamese markings.
Obligatory man + cat shot
Cats always like Matthew better. I got to pat this little ripper on the head a couple of times, but mostly he wanted Matthew's lovin'.

Matthew and I spotted an excellent little community park where there were people playing cricket (cricket!! unheard of!) and lots of people and not too many dogs. It is about 2 ks away and has a soft running track, so now I have no excuse not to get out there, now that my ankle is all better. Matthew and I are hoping to find matching running shoes in Vegas when we go there next week, so hopefully when we get back we can tackle the outdoors challenge.

On Fitness Endeavours

As Vancouver gets used to spring, the superfit locals can be seem carving up the pavement, carrying their yoga mats, and wearing shorts just because the sun is out, even if it's only 10 degrees. The Grouse Grind is opening soon, which is the not-too-long-but-a-bit-rough-and-ready hiking trail up Grouse Mountain. Pretty much everyone in my family has done this already (including Matthew, who 'did the Grind' a couple of years ago with my superfit cousins). So again I find myself with no excuses not to.

Also Matthew has suggested that we rent a tandem bicycle and peddle around the Stanley Park Sea Wall, which sounds all kinds of romantic, except that you all know I actually can't ride a bike. Matthew says that's the beauty of the tandem bike, only the person up front needs to know how to ride. Not sure about this...

The Countdown

Five days till Vegas! Between now and then I have to finish my Philosophy essay. This is the first of three essays, and five thousand of the eighteen thousand words I need to produce to call this academic year finished. I've already written almost three thousand, and I'm aiming for five hundred words a day, every day (except the 5 days in Vegas), until the end of May. Wish me luck.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Movie Nights

Last night I went out (without Matthew!) to see The Hunger Games with Martina & Stu, Chelsea and Danika from Book Club. I had not read the book, and really had not even heard of it until I joined this book club. I would be open to reading it, as I have also read HP and Twilight and other recent pop culture giants. I'm not unadventurous, I don't just stick to capital-L-Literature.

We went to a movie theatre downtown, which was so convenient, and so clean. I thought I would be late, but even though I was slack about leaving the house on time AND missed the bloody bus stop, I still got there in 25 minutes. There are two cinemas closer to our house but they both play more high-brow, non-blockbuster stuff. And Matthew and I only really watch about 1% Arthouse for preference, and 99% Blockbuster.

I was entertained by the movie, it was thrilling and engrossing. But there's just something about watching children try to kill each other that is wrong. I haven't seen Lord of the Flies so I didn't have a frame of reference. And I couldn't help thinking while I was watching it that I was the rich urban audience feeling moved by watching children killing each other.

I should really stick to the romantic comedies, eh? But it was a good Book Club movie to see, and always lovely to catch up with the girls.

Our local video store is closing, pretty much immediately. It's the only one left in the neighbourhood, and now it's gone. And Netflix Canada doesn't have much of a range. But before the local closes down, we are working our way through All The James Bond Movies. That's right, even Sean Connery, who I loathe. He has no soul, and he's that most detested figure in film, the 'man's man'. For a while Matthew and I were renting 'bromances' to catch up on that pop culture moment we felt had passed us by. That lasted about one-and-a-half movies before I banned bromances from movie night for life. But I digress.

James Bond movies, especially the groovy 60s and 70s ones, are totally watchable. The soundtrack is more of a score, with big brassy loud music every time Bond does anything really, but especially something violent to someone. I am not as urgently offended by the sexism in Bond as in the bromances because the movies are so old, and because I wasn't alive then. Also, spies are cool.

Finally, Matthew and I totally failed at not having dessert. I think we skipped dessert once. So dessert is here to stay, and I will look at reducing the instances of lunch-dessert instead (like dessert, but after lunch, natch). The count is on till Vegas people! That bather is not going to wear itself!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Happy Easter!

Best wishes to you on this beautiful Easter Sunday. Matthew and I had the last of our luxurious pillowy Hot Cross Buns for breakfast, and Matthew unwrapped his decadent Easter egg from me!

Yesterday when we walked home from the Greek shops along West Broadway, we spotted a new trend in Easter decorating: the Easter Egg Tree (like a Christmas tree, but not). Empty painted eggs (or plastic equivalent) are hung on dead branches. It has a sort of ghostly effect. Here are some samples we spied along West 14th Avenue:

Today Matthew and I are off to the Vancouver Car Show (we got hailed out on Good Friday, so we are revisiting today), and then to Uncle Dan and Aunty Leslie's house for Easter dinner.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Photopost: Good Friday and Baking Recap

Easter themed toffee apples at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Co on Robson St. Note relevant beavers and angry birds. Srsy?! Will never understand.

Vancouver is in bloom! Matthew and I are surprised by the loveliness of our first Northern Hemisphere Spring Easter. The city is dripping in flowers. Tulips and daffodils grow in everyone's front yards; it is hard to restrain ourselves from photographing everything in sight!

Yesterday Matthew and I went shopping downtown. On Good Friday! This is our awesome haul. (Also, we bought an umbrella because of the sudden hailstorm we were caught in!)

Aunty Lorraine, the Creative Director of the Easter Thursday Baking Program. The twisted biscuits were supposed to be Koulourakia, but they just tasted like ordinary biscuits... Not pictured, our soft, chewy, spicy, delicate, perfect Hot Cross Buns. Best ever, thanks to the Presbyterian Women's Missionary Union cookbook from our dear friend Ruth! 

Matthew enjoying a Speckled Hen and a Creme Egg for afternoon tea on Good Friday.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Small milestone

Today was my last day of class in my first year of grad school. Hurrah! Started out with morning tea in 16th/17th Century Studies, and finished up while the sun was still high in the sky, at a very reasonable 4:30pm.

The lion's share of the work is still in front of me, but I feel good that I have made it through formal classes. Until summer semester, but let's not ruin the moment.

Some gratuitous pictures of me baking Kourabiedes, except with almonds instead of walnuts, as there are no bloody walnuts within a 10k radius of our apartment.

Aren't they a sight for sore eyes?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

In Solemn Preparation for Easter

Warm seasonal hello on this fine Palm Sunday. Matthew is at Strategies Gaming Store with BOTH Warhammer and War Machine (his newest pursuit) and I am in front of my computer looking busy, if not actually doing any study yet.

Last night we were invited to dinner at our friends Mike and Laura's house. They live downtown in a gorgeous apartment with windows on all sides and a spectacular urban jungle view. We were honoured to participate in The First Barbeque of the Season, which was delicious. After dinner we thought we might go bowling, so we headed over the Granville Street Proper (the downtown part, not like our part which is suburby). It was thronging! I have not been there in darkness pretty much since summer time (apart from Hanson concert, but I was too excited to take much notice then). In daylight, it is slightly sleezy with lots of tattoo and bong shops. In the evening, it is alive with awesome bars, ballrooms, cinemas, clubs and heaps of people dressed to party. Even when it is 5 degrees and pouring rain, which it was last night. We got to the bowling alley but it was too busy! Have you ever heard of a bowling alley that is too busy? So we all repaired to a pub and lounged fireside with matching strawberry daiquiris. All in all, an excellent Saturday night.

For our anniversary last Thursday we went to a local restaurant and bar called West and overate gloriously with three courses and cocktails. There actually was a six-course menu to choose from, but we were not tempted, especially as we recalled our Valentine's Day experience. Matthew had worked 6 out of the last 7 days at that point, in 10+ hour shifts, so it was good to find somewhere so close and cozy. After about 10pm we had the place to ourselves. The cheese platter was pretty much the best thing we have ever tasted. The portions were huge, interesting cheeses from all over Canada, and the biscuits were baked in house. Staff knew it was our anniversary so they made us a very twee dessert platter with curly writing on it. Photo to follow. :)

I have to paint a picture of Easter in Vancouver, because it is traditionally one of my favourite holidays. We usually make it a long weekend in the countryside, and there is usually a flurry of Easter shopping and baking which preceded it. But in Vancouver, Easter is not a big deal. When you walk into a supermarket, you are NOT greeted by an obnoxious display of supersized Easter chocolate. You have to actually look for the hot cross buns, and they are weird. We live in walking distance from two chocolate shops, and only one of them has buntings up. And when you go inside, there are very few actually Easter eggs (and not because they have sold out, either, as I have had my keen Easter Eye on the situation for several weeks!).

At the local bookstore (like Borders) there is a display of 'basket stuffers' which is like 'stocking stuffers' but, like, wrong holiday, people!! These are not chocolate, and in some cases, not even edible. More like little plush toys. Matthew and I have recently joined Pinterest and there is an overrepresentation of 'Easter Cookies' which are the same sugar cookie recipe as Halloween but decorated in pastels instead of oranges and blacks. Not uniquely Easter, I maintain.

So I am addressing this by Easter-ifying our kitchen this week in a bake-a-thon. My theme this year is Eastern European traditional baking. Here is my list of 'to bake' before Easter Sunday:
  • Kourabiedes (Greek almond shortbreads which are crescent-shaped and totally covered in a think layer of icing sugar)
  • Koulourakia (Greek butter biscuits with a soft bready texture, twisted in an oblong shape and decorated with sesame seeds. Great for dipping in espresso.)
  • Kozunaci (Bulgarian sweet Easter bread risen in the tray it's baked in, and decorated in slivered almonds, sort of like one giant Hot Cross Bun without the cross)
So that should keep me busy. I have Aunty Lorraine and possibly the girls coming over on Thursday to make this festive baking a reality, so I will be sure to let you know how it goes.

A quick note on Pinterest. I was very kindly invited to this by my friend Tracy from Honey and Nutmeg. She is the Pinning Queen and I have a lot to learn from her. I promptly convinced Matthew that he also needed to join so that he could address the gender balance and also curate his random internet car finds. It has been solid gold in terms of university study procrastination.