Friday, July 31, 2009

Cure For Death By Lightning

The Cure for Death by Lightning The Cure for Death by Lightning by Gail Anderson-Dargatz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars The best book I've read in a while, and a Canadian author to boot! Anderson Dargatz has created brutally honest characters and the setting and plotline feel very real and believable. View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Of course we came back from BC with fruit. How could we not?Apricots and blackberries to be exact. The blackberries were a little worse for wear after two days of plus 35 prior to getting home, but the apricots survived the trip perfectly.
So, seeing as the blackberries were going bad fast, they were my first order of business.
Blackberries + sugar + apples + boiling + cooking + boiling = black berry jam.
Not only that, but they sealed really well in the canner.
Then, apricots.
I divided them in two groups. The first group were made into apricot "butter" (Brent doesn't like this term as there is actually no butter in them).
Apricots + cinnamon + cloves + allspice + zest and juice of 1 lemon + white wine
+ boiling + mashing + baking + stirring + stirring
= apricot "butter"
And they canned well too.
Finally, batch two of the apricots:
Apricots + pectin + LOTS of sugar + boiling + blendering = yummy apricot jam.
And they canned well too, making 100% canning success.
I really like this jam-making business.

Where's the beef?

Good friends of ours belong to an old ranching family from the Nanton area and are continuing that ranching tradition into the fifth generation. Their cattle are grass-fed and, if I say so myself, very tasty. So here's my pitch on their behalf: - The meat is lean and flavourful. - If you haven't bought part of a beef before, I highly recommend trying it. I love having a quarter of a cow in our much more variety to choose from when it comes time to make a meal than if I have to buy the cut at the grocery store ahead of time. - They're just plain great, friendly and trustworthy people. By buying from them, you support local and you support people who deserve to be supported. So without further ado, check out Trails End Grass Fed Beef.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Royal Gardening

You may have heard that the Obamas have planted an organic garden at the White House. Well, apparently the Queen of England has also taken up the cause. Well, Stephen Harper? Ed Stelmach? Dave Bronconnier? What about it? There's plenty of green space available at parliament, the legislature and downtown Calgary...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Four years ago...

On this occasion of our fourth wedding anniversary, I thought I would upload some shots of our wedding. Our professional photographer was not yet in the digital age, so the majority of our pictures are not on our computers, but my father-in-law did get some pictures with his digital camera (thanks Dad!). Crazy how we still feel like newly-weds...and yet so much has happened in the past four years. I am so glad we're married and don't regret it a bit, though I do think my younger self didn't know what she was getting herself into when she said I do. Marriage is work! But let that not be the last word. For all the work it has taken and will continue to take, I'm so glad to have Brent as my life partner. I think we make a pretty good team. Now, on to some pictures.
My brother and brother-in-law ushing.
My Matron of Honour and Flower-Maid coming up the aisle. The boys in their kilts.
Us with my parents' grain truck.
The unity candles (it was too windy outside to light them there, so we had to wait til later in the tent).
Our beautiful and tasty Danish wedding cake, courtesy of my aunt.

Jasper Once More

Just a few more images to share from our trip.
A self-portrait of us and Jasper the Bear. He didn't seem to mind the photoshoot.
And a picture of Brent taking pictures. He got some really gorgeous landscape shots over the course of the weekend.
One example of Brent's fabulous images. A chance shot, when the sunset pierced the rainy clouds, spotlighting the snow-covered mountains. My favourite way to travel: with my feet on the dash. One last streetscape of Jasper. It's not the best picture of the town, but it gives you a sense of it being a town plunked into the middle of the mountains. This was just before we left to head home.
We bought a bike rack from MEC for our car just before we left. We don't have a hitch on the car, so we had to get a bike rack that fits onto the hatch. It's pretty stable and easy to use...although it's also easy to steal, which is a downside. However, we're really glad that we're able to bring our bikes with us on trips now.
...And here's Vern the Matrix + Awesome Bike Rack at the Columbia Icefields.
It's my firm belief that all Canadians--at least all Albertans/British Columbians--should see the Icefields once in their lives. They are truly breath-taking and awe-inspiring. And besides their inherent awesomeness, the icefields are quickly disappearing--they could be gone in my lifetime. So see them before it's too late, people. It's definitely worth it. The Snocoach tour would be fun, but it's REALLY expensive. You can see just as much from below, walking up the glacier, or from the ridge of Wilcox Peak, which is a short extension to the Wilcox Pass hike.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jasper Anew

Brent and I have been to Jasper multiple times, when we were dating, on our honeymoon and every summer but one since then. So we've seen a lot of what the area has to offer.
This time, however, we found several new things to do.
For the first time, we visited to Miette Hotsprings, northeast on the Yellowhead Highway. It was a coldish rainy evening when we went and I was recovering from the flu. It was a longer drive from Jasper than we expected, around 60 kilometers. The end of the drive was along a windy narrow road up through the valley. It took a long time, but was worth it in the end. The hotsprings were enclosed in fog and mist. They're heated by heat exchange, so you don't actually get to sit in the hotspring itself (too bad!). There's not many commercialized hotsprings that you can...I've only ever done it once, and it was by far the best hotspring experience I've ever had. Anyway, Miette. It only cost six dollars to get in (that's the same price as getting into our local outdoor pool!). There are four pools there: a really hot one, a sort of hot one and two little cold pools. It poured rain while we were there, so we got cold water from above and warm from below. It was lovely.
We visited the Jasper Cemetery. We like to tour cemeteries everywhere we travel, to get a better sense of the history of a community. This was particularly fun in England and in my family's plot in Denmark. Jasper's cemetery was very well kept and had a map so you could see where everyone was buried.
We also attempted a very gentle mountain bike ride, which I'd never done before. For that matter, I'd never done biking of any kind in the mountains before. My poor hybrid bike took a bit of a beating, and Brent managed to split his tires, but it was really enjoyable. Far more than when you're hiking, you have to watch out for bears when you're biking. A lot of the bear maulings that occur in the Banff/Canmore area involve bikers who catch the bears offguard. But we saw no bears whilst biking. I did literally almost ran into an elk, as I mentioned before. We biked from our campsite at Wapiti Campground all the way to Maligne Canyon and then back through the Jasper lakes area and through Jasper Park Lodge.
I'd never seen the Jasper's lakes or Jasper Park Lodge before either, so two more firsts.
We visited Pyramid Lake Island at dusk the last evening we were in Jasper.
It was unbelievably beautiful, with the gentle sound of fish jumping in the lake, with the loons calling and other birds calling in the surrounding forest. We watched the sun go down behind Pyramid Mountain, shedding its final rays on the steep sides of Mount Edith Cavell off in the southern distance. The air smelled sweetly of pine and flowers and the world was at peace. It was so beautiful. A good way to end our stay, though we were loath to leave.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bad Dreams Are Good

Joni Mitchell -- Bad Dreams The cats are in the flower bed A red hawk rides the sky I guess I should be happy Just to be alive... But we have poisoned everything And oblivious to it all The cell phone zombies babble Through the shopping malls While condors fall from Indian skies Whales beach and die in sand... Bad dreams are good In the great plan. You cannot be trusted Do you even know you're lying It's dangerous to kid yourself You go deaf and dumb and blind. You take with such entitlement. You give bad attitude. You have no grace No empathy No gratitude You have no sense of consequence Oh my head is in my hands... Bad dreams are good In the great plan. Before that altering apple We were one with everything No sense of self and other No self-consciousness. But now we have to grapple With our man-made world backfiring Keeping one eye on our brother's deadly selfishness. And everyone's a victim! Nobody's hands are clean. There's so very little left of wild Eden Earth So near the jaws of our machines. We live in these electric scabs. These lesions once were lakes. No one knows how to shoulder the blame Or learn from past mistakes... So who will come to save the day? Mighty Mouse? Superman? Bad dreams are good in the great plan.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rhubarb farming

I like that rhubarb has a silent h in it. Sometimes I want to pronounce that h. R-hubarb. Say it with me. Speaking of silent h, I realized this morning that in my head, yogurt should be spelled yoghurt. But that's not the proper way to spell it, at least not according to the Mozilla spell-check. But I like it better. It looks more...ethnic. Yoghurt. So there. Anyway, what I came to say was that we harvested our second crop of r-hubarb today. Mostly because it was shading the oregano and squishing the carrots, not because we needed r-hubarb right at this moment. So I chopped it up, measured it, and put it in the freezer in a labelled bag. And tonight we went to the Hillhurst-Sunnyside farmer's market and got raspberries. They're laid out on a cookie sheet in the freezer. I'm looking forward to a bounty of fruit this winter.

Pleasures of Blueberries

One of my greatest joys and pleasures of summertime is fresh fruit. Especially with cereal and yogurt.
The recipe:
1 part small or chopped fruit
1 part plain Greek-style yogurt (not low-fat)
1 part Harvest Crunch granola
I prefer this with raspberries, blueberries or chopped nectarines. But peaches or cut-up strawberries will also work.
Mmm. Fruit is my favourite.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jasper: Questions

Ahh Jasper. Did I mention it's one of my favourite places? Brent even named and submitted to a photo contest in Jasper's honour. Four days is an awfully short time to be in your favourite place, especially when it's five hours away. Our Thursday and Sunday were largely spent in transit. Nevertheless, we got some great visits in with the beautiful area. A fellow-blogger, Briton and acquaintance (Hi A!) asked if we went to the Bear's Paw Bakery? Heck yes we went to the Bear's Paw Bakery. Twice, as a matter of fact. I had a steamer once, and a latte the second time. And a raspberry white chocolate scone (one of my all-time favourite treats). And a cinnamon bun (also good, but not my favourite). We also had spicy sausage rolls on our way home that were purchased at the aforementioned bakery. I love how many varied people go there. The locals go early in the morning before the tourists are up and around. The mainland Europeans go there for their daily bread (although they don't have rye bread--they should). The big street-wandering crowds stop in the afternoon for a dessert. And we went there whenever we felt like tasty pastries and yummy hot drinks. I've had several ask, "Did you frolick with the elk, as per several pre-trip comments you made?" Nope. Brent ruled that one out. And actually, I've had a run-in with elk in the past by getting between a mama and her baby (accidentally!) and would rather not repeat that. All frolicking was done from a distance. Well, except for one incident. We went biking on Friday and I almost ran into a Mama just chilaxing on the trail. She wasn't too thrilled by my slightly-out-of-breath trundling-along cycling presence, but she also didn't really move at all as I maneuvered past her. This is a good thing. Elk are large. [But Brent thinks I could have out-pedalled her if I had needed to]. In keeping with our Danish family's favourite mountain past-time, there's also the standard "Did you see any bears?!?" As a matter of fact, yes we did. I saw a baby bear waddle across the road on the way up to Maligne Lake. (It was hard to miss with all the tourists out trying to cuddle with it). We even resisted the urge to honk loudly and scold the silly people out running after the cub. Seemed like none of them stopped to wonder where the Mum was and what she would think about them getting human germs all over her baby. Brent also saw another bear cooling off in a stream, but I missed it. We also saw a lot of other wildlife...more than we usually see. In addition to elk and bears, we saw deer, several chubby attention-seeking marmots, all-too-tame chipmunks, gray jays [Brent says they're actually called something else], crows, two coyotes, and squirrels . Some of these anyone familiar with the mountain parks will say EVERYONE sees. But not so of marmots and coyotes. I've never actually seen a coyote in the park before. Oh yes, and we also saw PLENTY of the species of ordinary everyday tourist. Lots more to come on our trip to Jasper. But I thought I would start there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

BBC Book List

A friend had this on her online journal and I'm stealing it. An interesting selection; there are several I'm adding to my "to-read" or "to re-read" list. Have I mentioned I love reading fiction? I can't actually find this list on BBC although in 2003 they published a list of their viewers favourite 100 books, which is slightly different. I should use this opportunity to mention Goodreads. It's a website for tracking your read/reading/to-read book list that I use. I also have a link to it on the right side of the blog. The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up? Instructions: Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read. 1 – Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (x) 2 – The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien (x) 3 – Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (x) 4 – Harry Potter series – JK Rowling 5 – To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (x) 6 – The Bible (x) 7 – Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (x) 8 – Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell 9 – His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (x) 10 – Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (x) 11 – Little Women – Louisa M Alcott (x) 12 – Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (x) 13 – Catch 22 – Joseph Heller (x) 14 – Complete Works of Shakespeare (most of them, but not all) 15 – Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier 16 – The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien (x) 17 – Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk 18 – Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger 19 – The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger (x) 20 – Middlemarch – George Eliot (x) 21 – Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell (x) 22 – The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald (x) 23 – Bleak House – Charles Dickens 24 – War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (x) 25 – The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (nope, the movie was wacky enough for me...) 26 – Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh (again, seen the movie, but not the book) 27 – Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (x) 28 – Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (x) 29 – Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll (x) 30 – The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (x) 31 – Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (x) 32 – David Copperfield – Charles Dickens (x) 33 – Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis – (x) 34 – Emma – Jane Austen (x) 35 – Persuasion – Jane Austen (x) 36 – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis (huh isn’t this part of 33?) 37 – The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini 38 – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres 39 – Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden (x) 40 – Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne (x) 41 – Animal Farm – George Orwell (x) 42 – The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (x) 43 – One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 44 – A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving 45 – The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins (x) 46 – Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery (x) 47 – Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy (x) 48 – The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (x) 49 – Lord of the Flies – William Golding (x) 50 – Atonement – Ian McEwan (another movie seen) 51 – Life of Pi – Yann Martel 52 – Dune – Frank Herbert 53 – Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons 54 – Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen (x) 55 – A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth 56 – The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zifon 57 – A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens (x) 58 – Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (x) 59 – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon 60 – Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (x) 61 – Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck 62 – Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov (x) 63 – The Secret History – Donna Tartt 64 – The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold (x) 65 – Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas (x) 66 – On The Road – Jack Kerouac 67 – Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy (x) 68 – Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding (x) 69 – Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie 70 – Moby Dick – Herman Melville 71 – Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens (x) 72 – Dracula – Bram Stoker 73 – The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett (x) 74 – Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson 75 – Ulysses – James Joyce 76 – The Inferno – Dante 77 – Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome (x) 78 – Germinal – Emile Zola 79 – Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray (x) 80 – Possession – AS Byatt 81 – A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (x) 82 – Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell 83 – The Color Purple – Alice Walker 84 – The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro 85 – Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert 86 – A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry (x) 87 – Charlotte’s Web – EB White (x) 88 – The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom 89 – Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (x) 90 – The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton (x) 91 – Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad 92 – The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (x) 93 – The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks 94 – Watership Down – Richard Adam 95 – A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole 96 – A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute 97 – The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas 98 – Hamlet – William Shakespeare (x another doubled one) 99 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl (x) 100 – Les Miserables – Victor Hugo (x)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


To Jasper! To Jasper! We're off to Jasper tonight! Jasper National Park is definitely one my favourite places in the world. We didn't get to go there last summer since we did two other very expensive trips, but we're going for FOUR DAYS this year! In my devotions yesterday I came across this: Romans 1:20 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. It is in the mountains that God's eternal power and divine nature are most visible to me. I have no excuse not to believe in His omnipotence. I can't wait to go.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Our hometown

Brent entered a photo contest in which the theme was "your hometown." While Lacombe is our real hometown, Calgary is where we call home right now. We had an opportunity to go downtown with brother T on Sunday afternoon, which gave Brent lots of opportunity to get shots of one aspect of our widely varying city.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Peculiar Phenomenon of Youtube

Who would have guessed that something so common as a home video would get 100 million hits on Youtube? But it's so darn cute...