Internet, Curated

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+ I really want to try one (or some) of these make-your-own food bars the next time I’m serving a crowd.

+ Presenting the best white button shirts. As decided scientifically.

+ I think these houses are the coolest.

+ Writers in Canada make an average of $12 000 a year.

+  Mouth-watering smashed potatoes. I love smashed potatoes, but what I’m really interested in is that avocado aioli. Finally an acceptable vegan substitute for sour cream?

+ Beautiful homemade porcupine quill jewellery.

+ Got a tiny room? Don’t fret — just make it do double duty.

+ I heard recently that blogging is dead. But apparently this comes with a qualifier:

“Blogs haven’t disappeared – they have simply morphed into a mature part of the publishing ecosystem.”

+ How to make your own foaming soap.

+ This excerpt left me so excited for the full book — Texts from Jane Eyre by the brilliant Mallory Ortburg

+ How beautiful is this? I saw similar kale used in a bouquet recently and couldn’t get over how striking it looks.

+ Sunday’s brunch.

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How This Blog Got Started

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A few things happened in the same week that really motivated me to start planning, writing, and taking pictures. The universe was screaming ‘do it!’ at me.

Most importantly, I’ve been an avid reader of blogs for years now. I’ve always wanted to blog. I spent a big portion of my summer really thinking seriously about why I wanted to blog: what kind of things I would want to write about, what I hoped to accomplish by it.

And then, a few unconnected instances occurred. And clicked together. And gave me the kick I needed.

I finally signed up for Ashley Ann Campbell (of Under the Sycamore)’s Snap Shots class. When I got my DSLR, I decided I was definitely going to take a course on how to use it. I’ve been a daily reader of hers for about two years now, and I could never justify paying for the course. I was weeks away from moving home and starting a job that was a significant raise from my current paycheck when I noticed that her October course had spots open. I signed up.

Emma of A Beautiful Mess reflected back on her food photography journey. What was most inspiring for me was her confident assertion that she was glad she didn’t wait. She was (and still is, I’m guessing) proud of her older photographs, the ones she took before she had fancy equipment and years of experience.

Then Karen’s chicken got sick, and I was in awe of the way she could harness her blog’s power for good. Actually, I am consistently in awe of Karen. I am pretty sure she has super powers. Her blog, The Art of Doing Stuff, is among the best the internet has to offer.

I started reading Gone Girl (on my Kobo!). I wasn’t more than 2% of my way through the book before a specific passage jumped out and hit me in the face. Not literally. Obviously. But that’s the best way to describe the feeling I got. It was that moment when suddenly all the dots come together, when the stars finally align, when you realize something that should have been obvious all along.  It my ‘ah-a’ moment times one thousand:

“I used to be a writer. I was a writer who wrote about TV and movies and books. Back when people read things on paper. Back when anyone cared what I thought. I’d arrived in New York in the late ’90s, the last gasp of the glory days, although no one knew it then. New York was packed with writers, real writers, because there were magazines, real magazines, loads of them. This was back when the Internet was still some exotic pet kept in the corner of the publishing world — throw some kibble at it, watch it dance on its little leash, oh quite cute, it definitely won’t kill us in the night. Think about it: a time when newly graduated college kids could come to New York and get paid to write. We had no clue that we were embarking on careers that would vanish within a decade.”

And I thought about it. I thought how great it was once, that you could just move to New York and get paid to write. Let me repeat myself, just so I can get that shiver down my spine again: move to New York and get paid to write. The ultimate. The dream. And I was filled with this deep sadness, about how that time was passed and how sad that was (the last gasp of the glory days — there’s that shiver again). And then it hit me. The world has changed. People are still reading. But they read in fundamentally different ways. I read in different ways. I can’t remember the last time I bought a magazine (actually that’s a lie, I bought the July issue of Chatelaine and it was a delightful, guilt-ridden extravagance). Instead, I read blogs, multiple blogs, faithfully, often the same blog more than once a day. But magazines were my first love. As a teenager, Atoosa Rubenstein was my hero. The world has changed, and now, instead of chasing a dream in magazines, I am writing this blog.

A part of me felt self-conscious, writing about and comparing my humble efforts to such talented and established bloggers. And then, in the space of that same week, I happened upon Seth Godin’s thoughts on drafting:

“We set our pace based on what competitors or co-workers are doing. One secret to making more of an impact, then, is figuring out who you intend to follow. Don’t ‘pace yourself,’ instead, find someone to unknowningly pace you.”

So I decided to do it.  And here it is.

Photo: Typewriter by April Killingsworth

Five for Friday

+ I was only recently exposed to the idea of coworking, and I can’t get over how cool it is!

+ Vermicelli bowls are my latest favourite. My first attempt at this recipe was a fail*, but I’m determine to succeed next time!

+ My obsession with Talon of the Hawk has not abated. I still love every. single. song.

+ Hoping some fresh ideas for breakfast will make the mornings easier to prepare for.

+ Something to try next time I’m in the city.

*Halfway through I managed to convince myself that the sauce needed more liquid. In the form of soy sauce. Which turned it into a salty, unpalatable mess. It was also a mistake to include the cooked herbs from the marinade after the sugary marinade they cooked in had crystallized them into crunchy, salty chunks of black tar. 

Five for Friday

+ This makes my morning commute seem so much less aggravating.

+ I’m thrilled with the Scotiabank Giller Shortlist. My goal is to read each one.

+ My favourite author series, Ridgeway Reads, is starting up soon!

+ Even though I’m sick of all these ‘this really happened to real people and we’re going to set it to music that makes it seem meaningful’ commercials I thought this premise of this one was clever.

+ Awkward family photos always get me.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The Best Scrambled Eggs

This post originally appeared in slightly different form on my former blog toastonaplate.wordpress.com.

For a long time, I refused to eat scrambled eggs from restaurants.  Why? Because I knew they were never come close to being as good as my dad’s. My dad makes the world’s greatest scrambled eggs.

I’ve had people tell me that they don’t add oil or butter to the pan when they make scrambled eggs. Other people has told me that they don’t scramble the eggs before — just break them right into the pan and push them around until the yokes are broken. Which is fine. They will still taste good. But they won’t taste like my dad’s.

Three tips for the world’s best scrambled eggs: 

1) Use butter. 

2) Scramble the eggs (before they go in the pan), and add a splash of milk or cream and salt and pepper. And by scramble, I mean whisk — you can still use a fork, but stir the raw eggs quickly and kind of fluff them up. Get lots of air in there. 

3) Once the eggs are in the pan, don’t touch them while they are cooking until they are close to being down. 

Ingredients:

  • two eggs
  • a little bit of milk
  • finely chopped red pepper
  • finely chopped white onion
  • finely grated parmesan cheese
  • butter (to melt in pan)
  • salt and pepper to taste

He doesn’t always do red pepper and white onion; that was just what we had in the fridge.  He often uses ham, green onion, other cheeses, etc.

My dad starts his scrambled eggs the way most people start omelets.  He cooks the mix-ins; in this case, the onion and pepper in the butter until the onions are translucent.  He whisks the eggs together in a bowl and adds them in, and doesn’t touch them until they are nearly cooked.

It’s hard to take a decent picture of my dad whisking – he’s just too fast for my limited camera skills!

Once the eggs are almost at an omelette consistency, he moves them around gently once or twice.  And that’s it. His eggs are always light and fluffy and delicious.

 

Eating the Elephant

This post originally appeared on my previous blog, southernontariogothic.wordpress.com

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My dad taught me how to ski. I was terrified of the mountains. I was petrified of falling down and hurting myself. As I shook with terror and shrieked that I was going to take my skis off and walk the rest of the way down, he’d ask me the same question: how do you eat an elephant? And eventually I learned to answer back: one bite at a time. Getting down the hill wasn’t any different. Focus on getting part of the way, instead staring down to the bottom and feeling like you’ll never make it.

Elizabeth from Delightfully Tacky, in light of her own a-ha moment, posed a great question to her readers last Thursday: what’s keeping you from achieving you dreams? I’ve been busy, so I didn’t see it till now, but the question spoke so perfectly to where I am in this part of my life that I thought it would be really valuable — not to mention therapeutic — to answer her. Better late than never, right? That’s how I was raised, anyway.

You have to have a dream before you can realize it, right? Here’s my big confession: I’m not sure what my dream is. I have lots of little dreams. There are lots of small triumphs that I’m secretly longing for. I’d love to lose ten pounds, run a sub-two hour half-marathon, build a pizza oven, blog regularly, actually learn how to use my camera. I want to have a vegetable garden and own a dog. I’d call all those things dreams. But in terms of having a long term, castle in the sky that I could shape my life around? For the last few years, I’ve come up blank every time someone’s asked.

When I was little I wanted to be a writer. Once I got to high school, I wanted to be a university professor. I wanted to teach Shakespearean literature. But then I got to my undergraduate degree and the grades needed for that kind of career didn’t seem worth the amount of effort. Other things took priority: my friends, my family, getting involved in my community. And I was happy, and I think I can say (without sounding too vain) that I thrived. I felt happy and valued. I still loved school, but I didn’t want to be a professor anymore.

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I don’t want to measure my success on my material worth. I want to measure my life based on my relationships, my health, my ability to feel happy. Since your career is what you spend so much time of your life doing, I want my career to be something I believe. I want it to be something I find rewarding.

Actually wanting something is really scary. Actually trying hard to get it is even scarier.

Looking back, it’s been rare that I’ve fought hard for anything I really wanted. Maybe because there hasn’t ever been that much I’ve felt I needed — or rather, much that I felt I didn’t already have. I’ve always been content with good enough. I’ve always been too scared, and too complacent, to make what I really want happen for me. I feel crippled by my fear. I’m terrified of failing. I’m terrified to actually work for anything that I want. It’s so much easier to say that I just don’t know and accept what every comes along.

It’s easy to say that baby steps are the only way to get anywhere. It’s a lot harder to put it into practice. But just because I don’t know what my big dream is doesn’t mean I have to ignore the small ones. Thinking in absolutes is dangerous. Just because I don’t have everything figured out doesn’t mean I can’t have anything figured out.

I don’t know what I want long term. But I know some short term things that I want. I think it’s time to eat that elephant. It’s time to take a deep breathe and get down that big, scary mountain. It’s time to trust myself enough to know that I’ll get there in one piece.

If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading. Elizabeth, thank you for the prompt. It came at just the right time. I linked back to her original post at the beginning, but here’s a link again: http://www.delightfully-tacky.com/2014/07/whats-keeping-you-from-achieving-your-dream.html.  Other bloggers have linked up their posts, so go back and click around.

Internet, Curated.

Curate

+ This great article about the confabulation of oriental cultures. Or, why Katy Perry should stop.

+ Have been drooling over these shoes for months

+ This beautiful man, and this equally beautiful article about the unexpected body

+ This restaurant never disappoints. And how inspiring is their menu for homemade pizzas? We were there tonight and had the ella pizza.

+ Fell in love with this song after a friend recommended The Horse Thieves after seeing them perform at TURF