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Archive for January, 2013

January isn’t quite over and we aren’t in our house yet, but it is time to start planting. I have started some seeds: onions, leeks, beets, tomatoes and eggplants.

So here is a photo of Garden 2013, day one:

20130128-214701.jpg

Stay tuned for more garden photos and updates as we progress towards my ultimate goal of eating only produce we grow. Is this an attainable goal? I am not hoping or planning to achieve this goal this year but will work towards it as time progresses.

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This may be a bit of a rant, and perhaps it’s a good thing that I no longer have regular readers — sadly the only people that seem to come to this blog are those who find it from an online search that happens to pull up a particular post.  Perhaps I should start publishing posts to my facebook and twitter. I’ll think about that for a bit… Step one is getting back to posting regularly…

So on that note, onto the topic at hand. Potluck Etiquette…

I have noticed in recent months, when a potluck food party is being planned and the ‘event’ is posted on Facebook there are comments posted such as…

“this house is now gluten free, please plan accordingly” … or …”guests, X, Y, Z are following the paleo diet so please only bring food sanctioned by that diet”… or … “the host is lactose free so please don’t bring anything with lactose”…

 

Now, I want to note, I am not discussing this from a perspective of whether a host should have alcohol or not at a party. That is their prerogative.  Alcohol is a controlled substance, and there exists legitimate addiction to this substance.  I am also not talking allergies, legitimate allergies, that is!  If a person’s allergy is so severe that they experience an anaphylactic reaction, then I am all for keeping them away from the product!  If their reaction is so severe that they cannot be in the presence of the item, then let’s keep it out of any house they visit.

 

What I’m talking about are those people who are choosing to follow a particular diet, or who choose to cut out a particular product from their diet (perhaps due to preference, a sensitivity or intolerance or even an allergy -YES, allergy – that they only experience if they eat an item). I certainly believe that it is important that they be given the information they need to make appropriate food choices – so let’s plan to label food we bring to potluck items so people know if a product contains meat, diary, wheat, eggs, soy etc…

 

But with the caveats I have mentioned is it really necessary to limit your guests when it comes to what they bring to a potluck? Sure, for balance it’s nice to make sure not everyone is bringing a dessert, but is it really necessary to state that for all items that are being brought said food must be wheat-free, or dairy-free, or even meat-free? I’ve been finding that most potluck-related invites I have seen lately have been that way.

 

Conversely, When my family has our annual family christmas gathering, it’s potluck and there is all sorts of food there. DF (who doesn’t eat red meat) doesn’t request that everyone avoid their favourite red-meat recipes. Rather, he sees that there is (for example) meat in the chili and when he finds out that it is beef, he just doesn’t take any, and reaches for the chicken instead. Likewise for the meatballs.

 

Yet, I’ve seen invites where people will post “I have a dairy allergy, please don’t bring dairy” and another person “I don’t eat wheat, please don’t bring wheat”.  Are people okay with this? Is this the new normal? Again, I can understand “I will have an anaphylactic reaction and will not be able to breath, please don’t bring nuts anywhere near me”, and I can understand “I am allergic to dairy, please label your food with an ingredient list so I can see if it’s safe to eat”.  But to put an all out ban on something for a large party? That seems a little extreme.  If I am cooking dinner for DF, myself and another couple and the other couple is vegetarian, I am not going to make a roast chicken.  Likewise I wouldn’t use dairy in a similar context. But if I am having a party with a group of people, I think it’s fair to make sure there are alternates arriving that everyone can eat (by perhaps having the people with food restrictions bring food that they are able to eat) and to ensure people are prepared to write up a little note card outlining what’s in the item.

 

I was invited to a party recently where wheat (actually, all grains containing gluten), diary, eggs and meat were on the “do not bring at all” list.  So, fine, we can respect that but it made me realize how odd it was to watch as different people piped up with their food preferences and how that increased the ‘do not bring’ list.  So my proposal is this: Let’s have a ‘potluck item labelling station’ and a party where anything goes for food.  Anyone with a specific diet restriction can plan to bring something that fits in with their diet plan, and those who don’t have restrictions will do what they like and we can all just enjoy ourselves.

 

And for the record I have a bona fide dairy allergy. It’s been tested and documented and it isn’t just me choosing to have a food restriction because it seems to be the cool thing to do. I hate this allergy, LOVE dairy, and am terrible about limiting dairy, so I face the consequences on a daily basis.  ALSO, I never expect that anyone will cater to my diet needs. Good grief, I don’t even expect DF to avoid having cheese in our home just because I *SHOULD* avoid it.  I am an adult, I can make my own choice about what I eat, no one forces it down my throat.  If I am at a party and the cheese looks amazing I choose if I take it or skip it, and if there is pasta with a cream sauce I say ‘no thank you’.  I never expect that anyone will set up a party that is 100% dairy free just for me.

 

So, friends… for the next potluck party I am attending… if there is a unilateral ridiculous food ban (that isn’t alcohol or due to a severe anaphylactic allergy as some can be)… I may just bring an amazing-tasting item that contains whatever is the item of protest. It will be in my own serving dish – with utensils (so it doesn’t contaminate anyone else’s dish/utensils unless it’s by choice), it will be well-labelled and it will be up to each adult present to make their own choice as to whether or not they should choose to eat said item.  That is if I don’t just skip the event entirely out of the insanity of this trend!

<End Rant>

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Our New Home

One thing that is different between DF and myself is the number of times we’ve moved.  I can count on one hand, at least right now, the number of permanent homes I’ve had (I can count on two hands if you include temporary places I’ve lived for short months here and there).  DF, however, has moved so many times in his life he can hardly count them.  But, we both agree that we don’t want to move a lot in our life together. So, we set out to find our ‘forever home’.

We had a few criteria for our home, and initially we weren’t expecting to ‘seriously’ look until January.  But, we did feel it was important to look at places together so we would get a good handle on our likes and dislikes – we’d both looked at places in the past, but never together.

Our first trip out was quite productive and there was one place that was interesting to us.  We started talking about putting in an offer, but felt as though we should look some more.  It turned out that an offer was already accepted on that place. BUT, on our next trip out to look at places there was this one place. It was rough around the edges – a one owner home it is definitely ‘retro’.  But, it had a LOT of potential and met our criteria

So we took a leap and will own our home in a few short weeks!

So what criteria did we have for our home?

  1. Reduce my commute – I don’t foresee myself changing hospitals so minimizing my commute is important. DF could easily change locations for his job.
  2. Bright sunny big yard – big enough for kids, a dog and LOTS of gardening.
  3. Good community feel – in an ideal world close to certain friends so we can build community together, but also within a neighborhood that is community-focused.
  4. Quiet street – I want to feel relatively safe letting any kids we have (or friends/family’s kids) outside without one of us having to be close by at all times.
  5. Potential for what we envision in our future – as mentioned above.  We did not want a ‘starter’ home, but rather a home that could grow and expand as we need it to.

So, how well does our home fit the criteria?

  1. Right now it takes me ~30min to drive to work.  I try to walk out the door between 45-40min before I have to be there, to give me the time I need, especially with parking away from the hospital on weekdays.  The new commute drops down to about 15min.  The surprising thing is that this new place is only ~1mile from our current place. It’s amazing how a small distance can make a huge difference.
  2. The place has a big, sunny, yard – it’s on a corner lot so there is lots of space and no one on one side!
  3. The neighbors have already been quite welcoming, and are happy to have a couple move in (we are more community minded than the cranky 90 year old who lived in the house prior to us).
  4. It’s a dead end street, and our end is apparently used for street hockey and games regularly.
  5. There is great potential – if we need more space we can build on without losing too much yard, and with 4 bedrooms and 2 floors we have plenty of room for a long time to come!

We cannot wait until we close! Less than 2 weeks to go!

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Well the proposal really began well before the actual date the question was ‘popped’.  We hiked the Westcoast Trail on Vancouver Island in August/2012. This particular hiking trip was one I have always wanted to do and had never known anyone interested or experienced in doing a long multi-night trip.

In DF I met the one person I trusted enough for a week on the trail.  It was intense (more so because we rushed through the trip rather than going slow and enjoying the hikes -next time we are doing it over many more nights!).  At the end of the trip, we both got sick with “Tsusiat’s Revenge”. DF had it worse than I did, but we both felt like death.  On our last morning (after a very rough night) we had an easy 12k hike out. This end of the trail was flat, was well defined and comfortable.  I would liken it to the trails around Stanley Park.  As we were hiking, I realized how sick DF was, and became worried that he would need more medical attention than I could give on the trail.  I started urging him to go faster so we’d be able to get out, get the bus, get back to our car so I could take him to the Doctor.  Sadly, he made it to the 6k marker and couldn’t go on as he was doubled over sick.  Thankfully, I’m a runner, so I dropped my pack beside him, grabbed my (no longer Tsusiat-Falls-Contaminated) water bottle and started sprinting.  A challenge in hiking boots.

Normally the 12k we did that day should take about 4hrs to complete, and I was so worried about DF that I did the last 6k in 1hr (which shocked the Park’s employee once I found her).  Every time I passed a person on the trail I asked them to give Dan an update on where I was.  We ended up having Parks Canada people go in to where DF was huddled in his bright orange sleeping bag, carry our packs, and help him out to a boat that was waiting on a beach ~1.5km away.  We met in the town of Bamfield and went to the clinic so DF could get fixed up.  We ended up spending one more night in Bamfield so I could nurse him back to health before the crazy bus trip back to our car.

That night I went digging through DF’s Pack to see if he had any clean clothes left. I gave up pretty quickly as I recalled that he hadn’t packed any extras.  Little did I know that I was within inches of discovering something surprising and sparkly hidden in his clothing.

All in all, we had many discussions about getting married, but I wasn’t really expecting a proposal just yet, so it came as a complete surprise…

Suffice it to say the engagement happened immediately after we got home (and slept a bit). It was hilarious, special and I will never forget that moment.

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As I reflect on what this blog is to become I can’t help but consider where my life is at now, and where it is going…

When I last blogged I had just moved across an international border, was starting a new job, adapting to a new place, living with someone again (I had been living alone for years – and have never lived with a partner before, and let me tell you I LOVE living with DF like I have never loved living with anyone!) and planning for the future…

Since then we have gotten engaged, started planning our wedding and began hunting for a home.  That hunt went quickly and we will be home owners when our place closes in a few short weeks!

Moving into our new home wont happen until the end of March, or so, since our place needs A LOT of renovations we will take advantage of the first few weeks to get things progressing towards.

So, with it being January, what are some of my goals for 2013?

  1. Plan our Wedding
  2. Move into what is hopefully our forever home and work towards making it a nicely decorated, welcoming place where our friends, family and neighbors feel welcome.
  3. Start working towards garden spaces in our home. One long term goal of mine is to be productive with our space so that we can reduce our grocery bills. I would love to be able to work towards 100% of our produce being grown at home. How awesome would that be??? That is definitely a long term goal, though, as for that to truly be an option I will need a greenhouse which isn’t a top priority purchase (a fence is a higher priority for outdoor purchases)…  But we can start this year, as we are right in the correct window to get gardens going…
  4. And of course there are knitting-related goals too…

So, for now I am going to post a couple of posts in rapid succession to help get my readers (if I have any left) updated on where things are at.  How will this blog be used (and will there be posts???).  I would like to resume posting and perhaps will have to set a goal or a plan – perhaps even booking it in my calendar.  I am envisioning blogging about the garden development and progress, the home renovations and how all of that interplays into our family’s life.

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