Friday, March 29, 2013


I feel like our life has dissolved into a whirlwind of laundry and promising to finish projects on the weekend and big days in the office madly finishing grants to days where a lot has to get done, but coming down from the grants is so hard I stare at my computer screen lost in what has to happen next.

In all of that, we did accomplish a lot in the past few weeks. We headed out the a different grocery store for a change the other weekend because it just started carrying our Cold Comfort ice cream sandwiches.  Cold Comfort started out out of the back of Autumn's little electric car at events and slowly expanded into certain local grocery's carrying her products in their freezers, but most of those local groceries were not very convenient to our house. And then she opened up a headquarters housed by a local bakery, that is just across the Gorge from us. But if we go over there, we really are only going for ice cream sandwiches so we don't always think about it. So when I heard this week that The Root Cellar was now carrying Cold Comfort I was like "GROCERIES AND ICE CREAM SANDWICHES" ... Well that was just about as perfect as an Saturday could be.

I've also meant to check out The Root Cellar for a long time. There is a garden fresh market store out by Rob's parent's house, but that is almost a half hour away, so not convenient at all. And there are these adorable little neighborhood grocery stores in Victoria, but not in our neighbourhood, and not well stocked enough with our staples to warrant driving out to them (although, they carry Cold Comfort as well and whenever we are in the neighborhood we stop in).
Like Ice Cream Sandwiches.

It was worth it, The Root Cellar is jam packed with produce, inside and outside! Our little Fairway Market is very good at selling local produce when in season, but I felt like the Root Cellar also provided more home grown products.

Cilantro, Russet Potatoes, Sunflower Sprouts

For example, while this is all we were able to find local in the produce. 

We also were able to get a lot of good stuff from Washington, which to us, is fairly local and you can tell they get that produce from independent farms in  Washington, not a big producer, so that also feels like a win.

And asparagus bulbs!
Did anyone else have any idea this what they look like?

The flyer came after I started this post.
See the local produce count?

After that we finally got our family Photos hung in the hallway in the beautiful frame Amber got us for Christmas. 

This isn't our family. They sure look nice on our wall though!
You'll have to come visit to see the finished product. ;)

And we planted our lemon tree!

Since then our life has dissolved back into its whirlwind of  days in Vancouver and getting things ready for a four day weekend.

Amber's social worker friend came to visit from Prince Albert last weekend so we headed over to Vancouver for the day. Rob had shown Amber (who is also a social worker) East Hstings one day last fall and Cori wanted a chance to see it. 

I spent some time in Chinatown while the walked around downtown Vancouver's Eastside (I've been on that walk and I'm not ignoring it, I just didn't feel that I needed to do it as a tourist again). I have been dying to look in all of the Chinatown bulk bins forever . Turns out not knowing what's inside the 100 or so bins in the store eventually becomes frustrating and not as fun as I thought :) and I ducked into a tea shop to wait, walking out with $20 worth of Chinese holistic tea!  Good thing the crew phoned and we all met back up after that.

Rob has been over in Vancouver a lot for work (at least 2 nights a week) and since Matthew is on holiday and a lot of my work lately involves me just needing the focus to do it, and not so much needing to be at my desk, I went over there for two nights and worked from Rob's hotel room. So no meal plan this week. 

And now its Easter Weekend! And we are starting our first big home owner project together. Painting the bedroom! So excited. We have so many plans for our bedroom and I feel like most of them start with the sentence, "once we paint the bedroom..." 
We'e had the duvet cover since lat summer (I think I may have posted it?) and have kept it tucked away in a closet to use once everything matched. We've had it out a lot the past two weeks trying to pick paint colors and spreading it out along the bed with the chips taped to the wall. 

Time to get to work! I will post before and after photos as soon as we finish. If you can't wait, check back here from time to tome to watch our progress on Instagram. And sometime this weekend I will also post the rest of the Swap into Spring photos. I loved getting through one cycle of wearing my new clothes and washing them and putting them away to become part of my wardrobe.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Tuesday night I took my mom to The Belfry Theatre to see a show at their Spark Festival. A Festival of "new plays and new ideas". I took her to a play I have been looking forward to seeing for a while called A Brimful of Asha.  

The synopsis from the Spark website is: 
Real-life mother and son, Asha and Ravi Jain, each defend their side of this true (and very Canadian) story of generational and cultural clash. When Ravi takes a trip to India his parents decide it is the perfect time to introduce him to potential brides. Ravi is not sold on the idea of getting married-at least not yet-but Asha fears that time is running out.

I first heard about the show on CBC's Q with Jian Ghomeshi (my CBC boyfriend) and was completely taken with the idea. The interview with Asha and Ravi is wonderful and funny. And despite the cultural differences, Ravi and Asha sounded just like most Canadian mothers and sons.

The play proved to be every bit as charming. It is immediately brought to every ones attention that Asha (mom) is not an actress and doesn't intend to be one either. It is really 90 minutes of story-telling and conversation. The lights even stay up for the first 3/4 of the play making you feel like you are in their dining room. (They handed out Samosas to start and shook peoples hands as they walked through the door!).

This is by no means a review, but I really wanted to share the experience with you. What a fun play to take my mom too, while they talked about generational differences, parents always being right, and at one point Asha even stops Ravi mid story as he has absent mindedly leaned against the table and she makes him get up and find a chair! Obviously it had all been well rehearsed, but they were so charming and honest with each other (as only a real life mother and son could be) that it was easy to believe that this argument about marriage changes every night, and is fuelled by new fires.

Listen to Ravi and Asha on Q here:

And this is what I wore  -->

This might be the bravest I've been out here yet. Its weird the amount of freedom living in a new place has given me in feeling like I can really be whoever I always wanted to be.
A year ago, you could not have convinced me I would wear a regular length top and leggings out to the theatre! But here we are. And I like it.

With jeans and a little more casual in the office.

The shirt is satiny and feels totally glamorous, even when paired with jeans. Matthew took me along to a lecture he gave at UVic yesterday and it was the first time I have ever been introduced to a University class as a theatre professional. So I was really glad I was feeling slightly more glamorous than most days.

Yesterday I was back to casual with a nice comfy half button down shirt.

It sort of feels like I am wearing the top half of a onesie and I like it, but the buttons at the top won't stay done up, so I feel a little as though I am "popping out". It's the first swap item that I have considered may end up in the next swap.

Today I am wearing another new top that I absolutely love, but I'll have to wait until Rob or Amber can help me take a photo of the back of it, because that's the best part.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Swap Into Spring Update

This update didn't happen last night.

Either did the Pho Soup. After all all that touting about meal plans.

Instead I opted for some quality best friend time. Have I mentioned that Amber (who has been my best friend and on and off again roommate since we were 12 years old. Including the 3 years of high school I spent living with her family and 2 of which we shared a bedroom) has moved to Victoria and rented out our basement suite?

It's pretty awesome.
It's pretty much the most awesome thing ever.

Last night we went out shopping for a bit right after I was done work. Our main goal was Michaels, but we took a long time getting distracted by multi-vitamins and apricot scrubs and thigh high stockings before we got there.

And then we bought the prettiest yarn (I wish I had taken a picture of it to post here!) for me to knit us some head/ear warmers for going on our walks along the Gorge. While it may not be that cold here in Victoria, the wind can still make your ears hurt.

By the time we got home it was 8 PM and the thought of still baking my chicken for Pho Soup was unbearable (normally I would have had this done ahead of time as well, but I forgot on Sunday). So I threw the chicken in the oven to have later this week, made a batch of rice to have with leftover curry for lunches at work and Amber made me supper in her place.
See. Pretty much the most awesome thing ever.

And then when my chicken was safely out of the oven we watched two episodes of Gossip Girl. We thought we would pick a show that would bring us together, like Dawson's Creek did in high school, and make us feel like teenagers again. Teenagers that disapprove of all of this bad behaviour! Gossip Girl has been a really great pick and has us squealing like 15 year olds and yelling at all of the characters on the screen every night that Rob has gone out of town.
(Have I mentioned how awesome this arrangement is yet?)

This has not been a Swap into Spring update at all... whoops.

Here it is.
First, my amazing new dress!

I had some reservations about this dress at the swap. It is a bit on the snug side... I am sucking in a lot in this picture so that no one mistakenly thought I was announcing a baby Howland. But once I had it on on Saturday I was so beyond thrilled with it. The fabric has some give so it didn't feel snug at all after having it on for a while, and its a soft cozy sort of fabric, so I didn't even really feel like I was wearing a dress.

Look at all that pretty lace.

It goes perfectly with my feather earrings.

I wore it out to see Rob's little cousin Alana in her middle school production of Annie, that was out of this world! Two and a half hours went by and I almost forgot that they were kids on stage! Incredible. What a fun night out. They had it at the McPherson Playhouse, this gorgeous old playhouse in town and had 118 kids on stage, and another 100 backstage. We were at the closing night performance so the Dirctor came out to say thank you and gave a speech about how importnat theatre is for kids and parents to be involved in. I was so choked up!


The last two items are pretty casual, and pretty me. Just a nice t-shirt to lounge around in and...

 Yes. Another black sweater. You never know right? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Meal Planning

A recurring conversation I seem to have with my closest friends lately have involved food and organization. I guess as we get older, we are starting to be a lot more aware of the link between what we eat and how we feel, and the link between how we feel and what we get done, or feel like getting done.

Also, the majority of us are now transitioning from cooking for ourselves to get by -- to cooking for our families, whether that means our families of two or four, just adults, or kids and adult, on busy schedules or on relaxed schedules. It really changes the necessities of planning, no matter what shape and size that planning is.

Rob and I have a meal plan. Its fairly new, but we have really adjusted into sliding it into our rhythm. Friday night or Saturday morning while doing the supper or brunch dishes, we clean out the fridge, take stock of what's left and plan the week. We used to do this on Sunday afternoons, but we often have dinner at Rob's parents' house Sunday evening and that leaves us grocery shopping at 9 PM on a Sunday and the selection is pretty bleak. It also allows for us to go to the winter bi weekly market on Saturday mornings (every Saturday in the summer! So soon!) and get our produce and even some of our meat locally. The most useful thing that has come out of this planning hasn't necessarily been the meals themselves... but the way that this forces us to take stock of the week to come. Is Rob away any of the nights? Do we have plans to go out? Do I have to work late? Can we invite anyone over for dinner that we haven't seen in a while? Is anyone coming to stay with us?

The times that Rob will be away for big amounts of time I can hear myself groaning and thinking to hell with a meal plan, its only just for me! But I've discovered, these are the days I need the plan the most! Otherwise I slide into making a bun with soy cheese melted on it (oh yeah, we (really just I) are trying our best to go dairy free, more about that at a different time). And then I lose all of of my energy. And then I don't go to bed on time. And then I stare off into space at work. Its a slippery slope.

But if I get home on a night Rob's gone and see that, oh yeah, I'm having Pho soup tonight, and not only am I having Pho soup, since I knew that last night, the chicken is thawed in the fridge and the broth is slowly getting too old to eat... I can't ignore that if I don't have the Pho soup, I will be wasting food!

And then I am forced to eat well.

So, I thought since this is a recurring theme in conversation lately, and with lots of lovely ladies that I know read this blog, that I would share my meal plans and recipes with you. In case you needed (or wanted) some inspiration.

Meal Plan - Week of March 10

Sunday - Leftovers
Taco Pie and Enchiladas (the enchiladas were awful and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone)
Skillet Taco Pie

Monday - Pho Soup
Chicken Pho

Tuesday - Chicken Stir Fry
Our neighbourhood grocery store pre packages leftover produce and cuts of chicken or beef for the handiest fresh stir fry supper ever!

Wednesday - Leftovers or Pasta

Thursday - Burritos
This is Rob's specialty and you will see them surface every time I give Rob a night to cook or we have tortillas leftover.

Friday - Dinner and Movie!

Saturday - Creamy Turkey and Broccoli Gnocchi
This one is new to us and from my new cookbook app -- The Photo Cookbook -- I love this app because it lays the whole recipe out in pictures and I can decide if I want to bother just by looking at the pictures. It also gives you an ingredient by ingredient breakdown if you need it, when it asks for something silly like, wholegrain mustard.


If it turns out really good I'll post the whole recipe.

Also! Stay tuned later tonight for a Swap into Spring entry. I wore my new favorite dress out on Saturday and can't wait to show it off.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Swap Into Spring Item #2

This sweater is going to become my favorite go to sweater in no time. It reminds me of the beautiful cable knit sweaters we see in the Irish shop that I both know I can't afford and feel guilty about not making myself. The yarn is the right amount of soft, it is the right amount of off-white. More cream then white really and the buttons are beyond perfect.

I will wear this sweater around the house, in the office out for dinner, with dresses and skirts, jeans and yoga pants.

Putting it on this morning was like putting on an old friend already.

Today I'm wearing it with my favorite yoga pants. Working in an office space with only one other person (who isn't all that concerned with what I look like) and rarely venturing out can slide into a slippery slope of too casual pretty fast. So I try not to let that happen. Besides, sometimes Matthew will ask me to come along to a meeting, and we have volunteers coming in that I should look professional in front of,  or I will have to run and see the girls at Intrepid, or someone will pop by for a visit. So while the office is already casual and I wear jeans every day (but try to dress them up with my amazing new every day boots and a nice top) sometimes its nice to not even do that. Since Matthew is out of the office on Fridays and I try to make Fridays a sort out the end of the week and the office day, I've declared casual Fridays around here. For myself. Since there really is only, me. But I try not to let those casual Fridays slide too far into, "I hope nobody sees me" Fridays.

Today is close to one of those. I didn't shower this morning. Until I moved out here and in with Rob I was mostly a night time showerer, but I am trying to change over my habits and get up with Rob, or shortly after him in the morning so I can have an hour to wake up and with my New Yorker, and who knows maybe this blog ;). The last few weeks I have been slowly transforming into someone that loves to shower and blow dry my hair in the morning and get ready for work. Something I've never really done. Work has been getting into a touring van, or opening up the Lodge and making coffee, or heading into a  rehearsal where I might as well be comfortable, or getting ready late afternoon to run a show... getting ready for a typical work day is a little beyond me. Rob tries to help by making me a cup of coffee in the mornings before he leaves. Then I feel so guilty about my cup of coffee steaming away done there that I have to get up. And he really does make the best coffee ;). I'm getting there, a day at time.

Up Close.
Here are some fun book related links to take you into the weekend! Rob and I have been on the go a lot for the last few weeks and I am really looking forward to a weekend of sleeping in and laying around with a good book and The New Yorker. You can see all of the things I'm reading off to the left now, including the blogs I'm addicted to. Do you like the new blog look?

CBC Bookies  --  For all my amazing reader friends who keep me in so many suggestions of books to read my library hold list has gotten completely out of hand!

And in honour of International Women's Day  --  10 Great Books For Girls and Boys
Now excuse me while I go buy all of these book for Lucy and Rosalie ;)

Also in honour of International Women's Day  --  Check out my song section for my favorite song about being a woman.

It's Ember's new favorite sweater too.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Makehouse

I had the greatest time last night.

A woman here in town has opened up this amazing shop called The Makehouse. It is a shop for making, just as its name implies. A shop for making things anywhere from nipple tassels to upholstery classes. She did a workshop on making your own pillows that I would love to do next time its offered and has recently even offered workshops for painting and illustration.

Her shop is this cozy little place just outside of downtown where she also offers a drop in stitching parlour, and every time I've ever popped in for a moment I have wanted to stay forever. It reminds me of the great thrift shops we would find on youth tours in small towns where lots of ladies would be in the back knitting or quilting. A community of people who want to make things.

Please take a minute to listen here and hear all about it on CBC Radio's All Points West. I feel like my descriptions aren't doing it justice.

Jenny is amazing! And a side note, originally from Saskatoon it turns out. She will also be working with us on the next phase of Theatre SKAM's Fashion Machine and we are really looking forward to that.

Last night Jenny hosted a clothing swap. I had never been to one, but my girlfriend Jessica has been going to them for ages in Montreal. The really fun part about a hosted swap rather than just a friend swap, is that I didn't know anyone there! So I met other girls, I got outside of my bubble and I gave clothes a chance that I may not have found otherwise. I gave my clothes to good new homes, while coming home with some amazing new to me clothes. The clothes I brought home range from clothes that I can't wait to expand my wardrobe and new west coasty style with and clothes that fit like an old favorite sweater right away. In fact I found a sweater that is so much like an old comfy sweater already to me that Rob keeps swearing up and down I already have one just like it (I don't).

The rules of the swap were:

Each garment that you bring is worth one token. One item for one item.

If you pick it up and try it on first - it's yours. 

All clothing should be clean and free of stains, holes, or major damage.

There is an image on The Makehouse Facebook fan site of the swap when we first got started. So many clothes. There were three giant tables of clothes, a rack and then more random clothes hung off every object in the shop. Jenny and some of her volunteers had done such a nice job sorting, folding and arranging them all that I think everyone was too polite to disturb the peace at first.

I took about 6 items into the back to try on at first, but every time I came back out people had put stuff back that they didn't like on, or didn't fit, so there would be more things to try on. Seriously I think I took about 6 passes at the clothes before I finally quit at 7:30 (the swapping had only just started at 6:30).

I dropped off 25 things and came back home with 20!  And I am genuinely excited about every single item. I put everything on immediately for Amber when I got home.

I also brought home a sweater dress for her that I had tried on and realized she would love it even more... at this point there were still so many clothes Jenny was telling us to forget about numbers and please take things home! The rest will get donated and up-cycled in her shop.

And then today I modeled it all again for Rob when he got home from another trip to Montreal and was still so excited to just wear everything right now!

My pile of beautiful new clothes.
And because I am so excited to wear everything, I am going to wear one item of new clothing every day until I run out. And then they can find their new place inside my (newly very well organized) closet and dresser.

So naturally, I will share every item with you.

Today's outfit

Up Close ;)

Now hurry up and go like Jenny and The Makehouse on facebook and watch for her blog posts over in Coffee Row.


Rob's amazing Sister in Law took these incredible photos a couple of weeks ago with her clients who had their little guy 28 weeks early and started out life in NICU. I cried all the way through them, so get ready.

I love MJ's photography so much, she sees everything there is to see in a moment and every time I look at her work I see all the moments before I see anything else. We are so lucky to have someone like her to casually and formally document the rest of our lives.

I am coming back with an Erin's life related post shortly. Until then, go get some kleenaxes.