Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cocoa crack-a-lackin'

Cocoa Crackle Cookies

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 cup butter, softened, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup powdered sugar.
Mix flours, baking soda and salt together. Beat butter, brown and white sugars together until fluffy, add eggs and vanilla and mix. Then combine the flour and sugar mixture, plus cocoa power. Roll in tablespoon full balls and roll into powdered sugar, then drop onto greased cookie sheets.
*** I double the recipe because while 15 cookies is fabulous, three dozen is even more fabulous. These are my favourite, favourite cookies. They taste like chocolate cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes, depending on whether you are using convection or not.

I made some jam.

I made some jam yesterday. I've never done it before. It was great. It was sweet, delicious, and certainly not nutritious. So, this is how you make jam.

First, go buy about 2 litres of strawberries. They are better from a strawberry farm, because they are cheaper than buying a ton at the grocery store.

Then, you wash and mash the strawberries in a bowl, with a potato masher. You crush them until they are all juicy, red, and you do that until you get four cups of strawberries. You put the strawberries in a pot. Then you add 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and a whopping 7 cups of granulated white sugar. Not four cups... but 7. I couldn't believe it. It did, however, explain for the complete sweetness of the jam. Then, you add the Certo. And boil the strawberries.

You have to watch that they don't overflow over the pot and get onto the stove. Because if it does, that 7 cups of sugar will stick like white on rice. Or sticky, strawberry sugar mix. It happened.

You pour the jam into jars, and seal them with a kiss. Jam is delicious. I don't eat a lot of it, but now that I've made 12 jars of jam I will have to eat more.

Friday, June 25, 2010

no big deal... yah right!

July/August Issue 2010

So, I have two very small pieces on the upcoming issue of Canadian Geographic. And yes, they are small, and yes, they are not even engrossing 300 words, but.. it's a big deal! I'm super excited. And I know all I really do is talk about my internship, my job, my writing, but it is what I do and I am glad to say that it is - I hope - finally paying off, so to speak. The story is about a student who won this year's GeoChallenge. I interviewed him and sent it to one of our senior writers. My name is at the bottom and I think that's pretty cool. So if you can spare $7 next month, check it out. Page 9.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Small town what?

I never thought that living in a small town would result in all things small town. But, I've been proven wrong. Over the last several weeks I've been checking out the Elk Valley RCMP police reports as posted on The Free Press website, and they have proven to be more small town than I ever anticipated: I mean, country mud, belt-buckle wearing, beer-guzzling, dog-chasing, bizarre police reports.

Here are a few that resulted in my laughing out out loud while at the same time shaking my head.

- In Grasmere at 8:20 p.m. a vehicle hit a deer. There were no injuries but the deer was killed.

- In Fernie on 6th Ave. at 1:08 a.m. there was a report of several males out in the street yelling and screaming.

- In Fernie at 9:52 a.m. a 100 gallon fuel tank was stolen from a cabin on Morrissey Road.

- In Fernie at 3:18 a.m. police helped remove an unwanted guest from the Super 8 motel.

- In Sparwood at 1:29 p.m. a man reported having his cell phone stolen after letting a woman stay the night at his house in Pine Avenue.

- In Hosmer at 1:02 p.m. three gunshots were heard in Dicken Road. Police could find no evidence of firing but noted there were a lot of gophers in that area.

- In Fernie at 3:02 p.m. a hair salon reported a man had been calling them asking for a two-hour facial massage.

- In Elkford at 11:45 p.m. there was a domestic disturbance at Deerborne Drive. A drunk woman was screaming at her husband and the neighbours were shouting to her to be quiet.

- A driver got stuck on a sandbank when he drove into the Elk River to retrieve a pair of antlers.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Protected Parrots: photo of the week

the wrath of earth! rarrr!

I thought earlier this morning that I hadn't written an exciting post for a long time, and I was concerned because I get an itch when I don't do some personal writing. I write every day, but it's not always personal, mostly it's for work.

And then two things happened to me today that quite changed my worries. There was an earthquake! EARTHQUAKE! In Ottawa. I was driving on my way to a story meeting and I drive a big, 1998 Dodge diesel truck. I had stopped at a red light and was just listening to the radio, enjoying (not really) the hot, humid weather.

When bam! The truck started shaking, rocking back and forth, back and forth. And I looked around me, and all of the other vehicles waiting at the light were also shaking, from tire to tire. Initially I thought, "Must be a big train." But then I was tuning in to the radio and the announcer said, "I think we just had an earthquake."

The shaking lasted for maybe 15 seconds, and it was the neatest thing I've ever experienced! I study geography, so the earth shaking it's fury is quite extraordinary in my eyes.

To inform the ill-informed, the epicentre (which is the point on the earth's surface directly above the 'focus' of the earthquake) was just 56 km from Ottawa, at 45.9 degrees N and 75.5 degrees W. And immediately during and following the tremor, people in the city were evacuated from buildings. Malls closed. I wasn't at home, so I didn't experience the full effects of being in a building. But upon opening my door I discovered that the shelves in our kitchen had fallen, and with them went the slow cooker and a water jug.

It was all very neat, feeling the wrath of the earth. It's so cliche, but I think we truly underestimate just the power the earth has and it is one thing that - no matter how hard we try - we can not control.

As a side... I was biking around town to see if I could see any damage from the quake, when I saw this man with parrots on his back. He is a bird rescuer, and his four parrots sat on his shoulder. He was kind enough to let me take a photo. See picture of the week!

All in all, I didn't get my work done, but I had a great day!

Monday, June 21, 2010

it's all biz. ness.

I'm now a professional and thus need a business card. I ordered 1000. Think that's too many?

sand in my toes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

work. play.

There's something to be said about really loving what you do. I mean, what you do for a living. That's just it: growing up means finding a job that you can do 'for a living', meaning for the duration of your life. And if that something is satisfactory - okay. If it's a bore - that's too bad. If it pays the bills - it sounds like you are working for something everyone works for. But, if you thoroughly enjoy it - it's a dream.

I think I'm working in the last category. The, "I have a dream job" category. Because it's true, I am. I work 24 hours a week (estimated) in a cubicle in an office with others who do the same thing, and I work for free. It's an unpaid internship. The reaction I get from most people after telling them that is, "Oh that sucks." But in truth... it's fantastic.

I research. I wrote a story about bootlegging in the 1920s. I've researched Al Capone and discovered he used to spend time in hiding in a small Saskatchewan town. I know that the liquor company that distributes Absolute, Captain Morgans, and all the other famous liquors, was actually in the rum running business, and rum running is what led to such a successful company in the first place. I discovered that dinosaur bones were just unearthed in Alberta, a huge bonebed of them. This is what I do for a living!

I don't hate what I do. I love it. I have to figure out ways to make a story flow, to make it sound appealing to readers. I develop a good lede (not the kind of lede you see in a newspaper - I've done plenty of those), but a lede with colour, a lede like, "The S.S. I’m Alone went down beneath the waters in the Gulf of Mexico, pelted with bullet holes and sinking fast thanks to the blast from four explosive shells that detonated near it’s hull. One crewman, Canadian Leon Mainguy, goes down with the ship. The others, including Captain John Randell, are chained and thrown into a New Orleans jail."

My job is fun. F-U-N. I have fun. When I write something, and my editor tells me I've done a great job, says that it's exactly what they are looking for, I feel so excited. And when I see in the production room that I have two bylines for the next issue, I get a lump in my throat, because that is my name and my piece of work. It may not be a very large piece of work or an in-depth story with a photo spread, but it's got my name on it.

It's unfortunate that so many people out their truly hate their jobs. That every day they dread going getting into their car and going to work, for fear it will be another bad day. And it is sad, because it is something they will be doing for the duration of their lives, for at least 40 years, or longer.

I have bad days too, days where I'm not inspired and that is entirely frustrating. But I don't hate coming here and I don't hate writing. I love it.

Nothing is really work, unless you'd rather be doing something else.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Photo of the week

I'm not doing a photo of the week. Because it's good incentive to actually go out with my camera, beautiful as it is, and take some photos.

"Well I can't help but be scared of it all sometimes. The rain's gonna wash away I believe it."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I want to ride my bicycle.

Before Green. After Orange.

Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein

Bicycles get you from here to there and in the meantime make you aware. Potholes, rampant traffic, low-lying trees... all become a part of the journey you are on while riding your bicycle. And I am ever so excited to ride mine. Which I purchased for $10 at a garage sale.

In total, it must have cost me maybe $30 to fix up. A couple cans of spray paint, two new pedals, and dedicated time by my significant other and myself grinding down old paint and making new coats. But it looks fantastic - all shiny and new.

And it's neat to learn how it all works: leverage and washers and nuts and screws and gears shifting within the wheel. The bike has 3 gears. It's quite a unique machine. And I am the engine and the passenger. Fantastic.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

kids at play

"The earth delights to feel your bare feet and the
wind longs to play with your hair."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Anonymous bike-cycle.

I bought this bicycle for $10 at a garage sale. It is missing a peddle, it's seat is falling off and twists, there is rust creeping all over the chrome and paint and in all the bike joints. So, I'm refurbishing it from scratch.

The brakes are stiff, but apparently it has three speeds. However, it only has one speed on the sprocket by the looks of things.

Ben is helping me sand it down and then I'm going to paint it - of which colour I'm not too sure. Suggestions are appreciated. But, I am learning to like the current flourescent green. So, we shall have to see.

The best part about the bike-cycle - it's huge basket. For groceries and shopping and puppies, oh my!

Hungry and restless and wicked and wild

On a day a lot like this
i was wandering, I was amiss
And the memories came back to me
They were bent, and they were broken and they were funny

I was younger, so much more innocent
I did not question what anything meant
There's a river, so we go where it goes
We get covered with dirt and rainbows

We're giving it up again

We're older, much less innocent
We start questioning what everything mean
There's a river, and we ask why
Well the light of the reason and the passing of the sky

You wave and I wave back
You pull my hair and I laugh
There's a word for it but you keep it hidden away
You feel safer and secret and ready to play

We're giving it up again

There's a light, and it's showing me a piece of love
And I'll be holding the hands
And if you go, I'll go, and we'll go together
And there's children covered in dirt
With songs from above
And they went out looking for a new kind of love

We're giving it up again

Like a child, we get hungry and restless and wicked and wild

New kind of love...

- Plants and Animals.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


This photo brings about so much sadness. There are so many animals: birds, fish, bugs, that are dying because of the oil spill. And yet we sit here, cozy in our AC cars and use our plastic and don't change the habits that lead to the use of oil in the first place. It makes me very, very sad.

See for more.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A couple of black swans.

In all my years as a love-struck child, I was under the impression that swans were white. The Swan Princess Disney flick had a white swan, and The Ugly Duckling was about a chick that grew up to be this beautiful - again - white swan.

Such is apparently not the case. There are black swans, and two of them reside on the Rideau River in Ottawa. Donated by the Queen herself.

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