Monday, March 29, 2010

who doesn't like the gingers?

in keeping with my goal # 6 to eat more balanced, regular meals (and the recap of the disaster of pub food that was last week), i made a delicious dinner tonight.  my sister, who can sniff out a piece of ginger from a mile away, would certainly not agree, but i thought this soup was rather tasty (and not to mention, so easy) and whipped up a salad to go with it.

ginger carrot soup
3 tbsp butter or olive oil
3 leeks, white part and 2 inches of green, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 hand of ginger, cut into 8 pieces
2 pounds of carrots, trimmed, peeled, and chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and quartered
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
minced green onion for garnish

1 - in a large, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
2 - add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring often, until soft (about 10 minutes)
3 - add the ginger, carrots, and potato, season with salt and pepper, and stir with a wooden spoon to mix together.
4 - pour in the stock, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
5 - reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and summer until the carrots are very soft (about an hour).
6 - remove from the heat and remove and discard the ginger.
7 - let the soup cool slightly and process until very smooth in a food prcessor or blender.
8 - season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with sprinkle of green onions.

my basic stand-by greek salad
put the following in a bowl, after chopping to your preferred size:
red onion
cucumber (but not too many or they are always left over)
red or yellow pepper
capers (or olives, if you like those better or are in an olive mood)
oregano (this is essential)
salt & pepper
feta cheese (the kind in the brine that gets a bit gooey)
make a simple dressing with lemon juice and olive oil in equal parts and drizzle over the rest.

i didn't take any photos, but i think i will make this for a friend later this week so perhaps i can get a few snaps then.

i adapted the soup recipe from The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook, which also says you can add sour cream as a garnish or serve it cool.

if you like the flavour of ginger, you will enjoy this soup.  if, however, you are like my sister, and can pick out ginger in anything, i would suggest staying far away from this soup or anyone cooking it.  the finished product has quite the bite and the green onion garnish is perfect to cool a burning palate.


29 + 2

1 - conquer my anxiety, or at least win a few battles against it.  after a challenging month in february, i managed to do quite well in march on the anxiety front.  not much new to report apart from learning more about how to manage anxiety medicinally and risks involved in doing so.  i also learned that my life will likely never slow down to a pace where there is not something i won't be even just slightly anxious about, and god help me if it did.  i like being busy, i don't like being overwhelmed.  ebbs and flows.  such is life.

2 - be more thoughtful of others, especially around special events, days, occassions.  i wanted to find a most meaningful and thoughtful gift for the wedding that i went to last weekend, but i ended up with a gift card, which did not meet either of my criteria.  but i have recently ordered a book online to give to a friend who i know will enjoy it and i have another little something waiting in my home office to be popped into the post.  slow and steady will win this race.

3 - continue making visiting family and friends a priority.  my trip to visit my dad on vancouver island is all but booked and in that short hop over to bc i am also hoping to see a cousin.  i am making headway into plans to visit dc this summer, but that will also depend on others' schedules.  i have a standing invitation to visit israel that i could possibly take up, but for now, i am going to focus a little closer to home.  or at least stick to my own continent.

4 - nail down some sort of short-term career goals.  as i mentioned here yesterday, i have been a networking machine lately and the nice thing about being so busy this past week (so much so that i didn't know my own middle name) was that  i also didn't have to time to wonder, 'what next?' or 'what if?' or 'when?' and just got stuff done.  my thoughts are that the stuff i have completed recently is enough to keep me content where i am.

i could use a little more motivation in my day job, but whenever i have meetings with my bosses they seem completely content and satisified with my work so instead of caring if i am performing up to my own standards, i should just stop worrying or caring and concentrate on making progress in other parts of my life that could lead to more focused jobs in the future.  maybe.

5 - lay a nest egg to accompany my nest.  red light and parking tickets are really not helping my cause here.  dieter and i need to be a little more careful on the road.  i am going to mexico in two weeks' time with my family and i am thrilled that the price tag will be more than worth the fun and time we will have.  but other than that, i am trying to save my pennies for tax season.  then i will get myself properly sorted in the saving/investing/general finances zones.

6 - eat more balanced, regular meals.  i was running around the city last week and in doing so, ate a lot of crap.  delicious, but unhealthy food.  i have next to nothing in my fridge or pantry at home so the first step to addressing this current situation will be to go grocery shopping tonight and plan a menu for the coming days.

i also need to stop eating the Sausage, Egg & Cheese on English Muffin from Starbucks and any of the Manuel Latruwe croissants served at Phil & Sebastian...

this is becoming increasingly important as i am preparing to run a half marathon in early may and am playing around with my pre and post running meals and snacks.  so far, eating at least an hour before i run and eating something packed with energy seems to be getting me through with a few little pick-me-ups of some sort of processed gooey energy bites.  i am still confused as to what i should eat after a run though, some people say something packed with protein, others say something packed with carbs.  i generally just need to put something, anything in my mouth and then follow it with a latte.

7 - sleep an appropriate amount.  i sleep when i need to.  this sometimes includes napping.  in my napping outfit (just take off your pants and voila! napping outfit).  it also includes sleeping in when i have been out drinking tequila at weddings.  or getting up early when i need to get into my office for an early morning meeting.  still doing well.  but still not regular at all.

8 - maintain my priorities.  i was tested in this regard recently.  and i came out on top.  or so i think.  i have had a lot of responsibilities lately and the only thing that i felt i really dropped in the process was my punctuality and organisation as i was late for something that i swore started later than it did.

through my recent scheduling madness, i kept up my running, i kept up my socialising with my friends, and i kept up the communication with my family.  i took a step back from my day job with intention and judged where my time and energies were best spent before making any changes or decisions.  like i said, i think i did ok with this over the past month and i am hopeful that i have set myself up for some success in the coming months because of it.

9 - keep asking for what i want.  well, i haven't had to ask for things that i want lately.  but that could possibly be that i am not sure what it is that i want.  i am really good at asking when i do know that i want something (like a week long training provided by noraid in bangkok coming up in may that i am waiting to hear back on), but i am less inclined to give something to universe and ask for what i want that way.  lack of confidence to hand over control, i suppose.  but i have held on to my power without fail in 29 so there is something to be said for that.

wow, that was sort of a cryptic recap, sorry about that.  hope it is interesting reading, even if you have to do it between the lines.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

what a week!

monday - pretty average day, a decently productive smattering of work at my day job and a nice evening hanging out with a friend in town from overseas.  who is sort of in love with me.  but only just sort of.  i think.

tuesday - chair a monthly meeting on trafficking.  pick up a package at the post office of leg warmers and fingerless mitts from the lovely lady over at Yarn is My Metier, beautiful and so comfortable.  every girl needs a pair of leg warmers.  american idol watching with my neighbour/guy i dated a year ago.  a failed hill run - 8 hills turned into 4 miserable hills.

wednesday - teaching high school for the morning, which is almost as exhausting as teaching junior high school, but not quite.  the first screening of the film What Are We Doing Here? that went really well, including the panel discussion on aid to africa that i participated in.  i was proud to have addressed people's questions with intelligent answers.

thursday - drafting of a project proposal for funding to do my own research in the province.  the second screening of the documentary followed by another panel discussion, where i wasn't nearly as articulate as wednesday night's event.  beer and nachos with my ever supportive friends afterwards.

friday - a half day workshop on temporary foreign workers in alberta and the challenges and successes of the programme.  met the nephew of my nairobi chemist by chance in calgary.  handed out tonnes of my cards, networking, networking, networking.  running around the city getting wedding gifts and cards.  a gorgeous wedding with great people that ended with me and the best man shooting tequila at the bar.

saturday - a touch of the hang over.  catching up on adminstrative work for my evening/weekend job.  watching ufc fights, which i swore i would never do and will never do again - boring and disgusting at the same time.  an early night.

sunday - a good 12km run, but with frozen hands.  a hot bath.  some shopping.  sushi.  roast dinner with my parents and one bro (my other bro is in tanzania!).  traffic fines paid.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

a simple request

all i am asking for this week is a few more hours in each day. 

not hours that can be used for sleeping, but hours that can be used for preparing presentations for high schools, visiting with friends in from out of town, time to fit in all of my runs (and all of those hills...). 

i would really appreciate some extra time to collect my package from the post office, to attend all of the meetings i have scheduled for my day job, to mentally prepare to be on the panel discussion following both screenings of What Are We Doing Here? this week. 

i need hours for thoughtful wedding gift shopping, for shoulder season hikes, and for attending a workshop on temporary foreign workers in alberta, and for paying those parking and red light ticket.

i also wouldn't mind some time to sort out if i am interested in dating my neighbour.  it should be so simple, but it never is.

Friday, March 19, 2010

An Imperfect Offering from me to you

another book that you absolutely must read (well, if you are in to this kind of stuff, that is) is An Imperfect Offering by Dr James Orbinski.  again, like many of the books i read, it explores the challenges of humanitarian assistance during a violent conflict.  which, coincidentally was also the name of the masters degree that i finished a few years ago.

this book is not always easy to read, it is haunting, it is disturbing, and it left me with a lot  more questions than it answered, but i think that that is the nature of humanitarian or development work and Orbinski was honest, modest, and sincere in the telling of his personal story, which includes a career as a doctor, time spent as the director of Medecins Sans Frontieres, and many missions to countries in the tight grasp of war and violence.

like i said, it certainly doesn't give the answers to the questions of how best to implement humanitarian response activities, but it does provide insight into providing basic health care to those affected by war.  i'd be lying if i didn't say that this book made me wish that i was doctor because that seems like it could be more simple than what i do know how to do and this isn't the first time i have thought that.

i can never imagine being in the position that Orbinski was in to decide whether or not to go against organisational philosophy and principles (msf has historically refused to engage in the 'political' aspects of conflict) and speak out against government action (and indeed, inaction) and make bold statements about why the situation in rwanda, somalia, kosovo, afghanistan, and the drc is the way it is.  he chose to point msf's finger at the actors that could change things, if they so wished.  often, these actors are foreign governments and in reading his accounts of each of the above regions, i began to understand even further the complexities of humanitarians' involvement in a conflict.

the book could have easily gone the direction of Lloyd Axworthy's concept of The Responsibility to Protect, which i was a wholehearted follower of years ago (but my faith in this concept is no longer as strong as it once was) and will never become a reality, but Orbinski never gets overly idealistic and keeps the dialogue in his book based on the real challenges and potential impossibility of having one 'right answer' to its many questions.

the book's title, An Imperfect Offering, comes from a Leonard Cohen lyric and it couldn't be better suited for the realities and complexities of its content.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What Are We Doing Here? documentary screening

i have planned a screening of the film What Are We Doing Here?, which explores the concept that international development might not be working out as we had planned or hoped.  sentiments that are often coming out of my own mouth and posted here.

if you are in calgary and would like to see the film and listen to a panel discussion following (including me and one of the film's directors), come out to the Cardel Theatre on March 25th at 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30pm).  entrace by donation to the organisation that is hosting the event, Fig Tree Foundation.

more information can be found here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

ironing + beer - ruffles = contentment

i just spent the last few hours ironing whilst enjoying a cold beer.  there were more than a few times i thought, 'why do i insist on buying so many shirts with ruffles?' and 'i used to pay people to do this for me!' and 'why didn't my mom ever grab a beer when she was doing this?'

now admittedly, i like ironing more than the average person, but i have a word of advice for the intertubes here.  when you feel as though life is overwhelming you, do your ironing.  it is amazing how much better you can feel if you just tackle the pile of wrinkled fabrics.  the rest will follow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

way up

things really are looking up and here is proof:
  • the calgary parking authority sent me a cheque.  i am not sure exactly why, but i'll take the $50!
  • i gained a few new freckles on my morning run today.
  • it is friday and i got to go for a morning run.
  • freckles only come when there is sun!
  • i used my free starbies drink coupon that they sent me for my birthday because i registered my starbucks card
  • i searched through my drawers and found 4 totally wearable bikinis to take to mexico so no need to purchase a new one

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

things are looking up

here are some thoughts to prove that i am not just a big grumpy guts lately.
  • i had an awesome run tonight at quite the clip, making me feel as though i am really improving and that my lungs are in great shape.  during this time round training for a 1/2 marathon, my calves are not growing at an exponential rate and looking huge (as they did last time i increased my distances like this).  i think i must have adjusted my gait in the past few years because i am not having the calf pain and subsequent cramps, which could have been behind those enormous calves (and ladies, enormous calves are not the easiest to dress...)
  • sometimes i need to be forced to take a break and often, this comes in the form of a sickness that forces me to STOP.  but not this time.  this time i have planned a trip to mexico to stay at this lovely place with my most favourite people in the world, my fam.  i know we are going to have a blast and the countdown is on for the best family vacation ever!
  • as an aside, the guys on american idol are really kicking the girls arses this season.  i love the kid with the mullet.  any 16 year old that loves ray lamontagne as much as i do (and has a shameless mullet), gets my vote.  if i lived in the u.s of a.  and voted for american idol contestants.
  • i am now trained to conduct audits (specifically on environmental management systems, but the principles translate to other areas that i have some knowledge) and i think that i would be a really good auditor.  anal retentive?  yes.  keen attention to detail?  yes.  sort of nosy?  yes.  blunt and tells it like it is?  yes.  see?  totally up my alley.  i think there is a lot of overlap between auditing and monitoring and evaluation (in un speak) so here's hoping i will be able to apply what i have learned over the last 3 days during future career steps.
  • going back to tv again for a momento, glee's new episodes will be starting soon, yippee.
  • this weekend, i have plans to head to a movie with one of my girlfriends who i haven't seen in awhile and i have a date with another friend to go hiking or for a nice walk. 
things are looking up.

Monday, March 08, 2010

friends in cold places

so as not to alarm anyone with the utter melancholic feel of my previous entry, i wanted to post something that will certainly make you (and me) smile.

my friend with amazing knitting talents (and the brains behing the blog Yarn is My Metier) has knit a pair of charcoal legwarmers at my humble request and, much to my delight and surprise, also tacked on a little surprise of fingerless gloves, which are going to be just perfect for my new photography habit!

i implore you to view my gorgeous new legwarmers that are on their way up to canada right this very moment and lovely matching mitts (yippee!).  aren't they spectacular?  and handmade!  and fantastic!

i feel very privileged and honoured to wear such lovely creations and i will surely model them for the world wide web as soon as they arrive.


wah wah wah

i am in a funk.  it is official.

and what is the cause of this funk, you might ask.  (and if you didn't ask, you can stop reading here because i am going to go ahead and answer my own question).

i fear that i am loosing my 'edge.'  i used to be the person in a meeting who would say their background was in international development, but now i have been back in canada and working in oil and gas for over a year and without a huge repertoir of work experience to my credit, i can't keep going on saying that i have a 'background' in much of anything if i have been doing what i now do (whatever that is...) half as long as i used to work in kenya.

and yet, the career path that i am heading down now doesn't excite me or inspire me to do my best.  i will do a good job, but i don't really care about my work (at least not my day job).  sure, working for the bureaucracy that is the un system and in a country that was seriously lacking in infrastructure that i now have the luxury of working with, was also a daily struggle and i wouldn't say that i cared about my job everyday, but at least i took ownership of my work and felt that there was a greater reason to do it than just a paycheque.

eesh.  i just don't know what is to come next and i fear it will just be more of the same.  and yet, i don't know what to do besides what i have been doing by keeping my network warm and sending out updated cv's to people in that industry.  i was feeling really motivated and that i was sitting on the precipice of something interesting or exciting or just a change of some sort and now i fear that i am spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere apart from exactly where i already am.

blah, i am whining.  and this is a funk.  and i am not quite sure what to do to get out of it.

but, hey!  i ran 14km last weekend and it felt great and not a huge stuggle and the 16km that i have scheduled for this coming weekend is not scaring the bajeezus out of me and that is good.

Friday, March 05, 2010

6 bits and bobs

thanks to the fine lady behind this blog, i now have to tell you 6 random things about myself.  this couldn't have come at a better time as i haven't been in the writing mood much this week.


1 - i recently got another, my sixth, tattoo.
2 - when i get stressed, i like to bake.  i baked a toffee/butterscotch square tonight.
3 - i spend far too much time on facebook and i don't think anything productive comes of it.  i need to cut back on my wasted online time.
4 - i like to grocery shop.  but i think the grocery shopping more enjoyable in the uk.
5 - i love a good cheeseburger.
6 - i was invited to a wedding today and i am really looking forward to it.  it'll be in a restaurant on a friday evening and full of interesting people.

i don't really know many of the people on the www, so i am going to skip the part where i have to tag other people.  if you feel like doing it, please do and leave me a comment so i can come and check out your 6 tidbits!