Aggregate \Ag"gre*gate\, a. [L. aggregatus, p. p.]

Formed by a collection of particulars into a whole mass or sum; collective. To bring together. Syn: To heap up; accumulate; pile; collect.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Toby goes for a Ride

Well, that was quite a hiatus! Thank you for all the kind words and support over these past few weeks as I worked, studied and researched. I loved hearing that ag.gray.gate's daily offerings were missed. For those of you who have been waiting...I handed in my completed business plan for the Boomtown Brewing Company last Monday and by Friday I had the news. It was accepted. Yay, for this Mompreneur and for this little family!!!! 2011 is gonna be a BIG year. I am equal parts excited and scared.
Other than me being fully engrossed in the brewing world, it has been life as usual. Since moving to Rossland six months ago my husband Mike commutes quite a bit back to Vancouver. On a good trip he goes to film something, on all the other trips he goes so that there is food on the table. Sometimes he crashes with friends and at other times he sleeps in the Cavallac. When he is able to take Toby (the Chihuahua) with him I am so grateful. Toby, our first baby, gets some serious one on one time with Mike, and I have only three beasts to take care of here at home.

One of Mike's most recent trips was for the explicit purpose of an audition. The audition was at 3pm. It takes roughly 7 and a half hours to get to Vancouver. Afterward, he would turn around and drive back to Rossland. He wore his costume in the car and didn't think to bring a change of clothing. Why would he? The trip was there and back again in 16 hours.

One of the things we have most enjoyed about life here in Rossland is the lack of traffic. Life here is super chill despite Forbes Magazine repeatedly giving us a spot on their top ten ski resort list. In fact, an article was written about our sleepy little town, labelling us the most laid back ski town in North America. Oh, and the Lonely Planet warns visitors about our erratic jaywalkers. Like I said, there is no traffic.

Anyhoo, 7 hours and 25 minutes into Mike's Vancouver trip, he was stopped in traffic two blocks from the studio. Suddenly, Toby begins to panic. Like, PANIC! He runs in tiny panicky circles in Mike's lap, pausing only briefly to put his paws on the window ledge and peer longingly outside, then resuming this frantic cycle. Michael barely has time to process that all three pounds of dog is in the throes of a man sized emergency. He says, "Just a sec Tobes and I'll find a place to pull over". Apparently Michael's reassurance was too little too late, for it was then that Toby placed his paws on the window ledge once more and shat helplessly all down the front of the only outfit Mike had.

Gagging, he found an ever elusive parking spot, and he struggled to figure out how to make this shituation better all the while managing to not strangle Toby. Mike went straight for the washroom inside. He washed out as much as he could which left little time for his still rank clothing to dry. Now he was wet and smelled like poop. Upon entering the audition room he says to the director, "Now, I know what this looks like, but it isn't pee. It's shit...but it's not mine". What an ice breaker.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Homage Monday - Nicole Maas

Nickie is a certain kinda someone - like a legend. She works and plays fields traditionally dominated by men and, well, dominates :) She is pretty awesome! Usually I will use selected portions of what an artist sends for this article but with Nickie there is sooooo much and it is all soooo good! Inside industry information, espionage, babies,'s all here for the reading, thanks Nickie:

Ok, so... bio. Present to past? Past to present?
Past to present...

 I slogged away in design school at Emily Carr for 5 years and graduated from the Graphic Design dept. Took a co-op role with Electronic Arts in 1996 and fell in love with the video game industry. After a year at EA I went back to Emily Carr and finished my program in 1997, and then took at job at Radical Entertainment. Worked as the studio front end (interface design) lead for 3 years and left in 2000 to delve into the up and coming world of web design in Austin, TX. In 2001 the dot com crash hit hard and I found myself pining away for games again. Headed back to Vancouver and fell back into a spot as the interface design lead for NHL on the PC. Worked on the NHL franchise from 2002 to 2006 before moving over to work on a little known console called the Nintendo Revolution. The Revolution is now commonly know as the Wii and I helped to create Madden 07, a launch title for the Wii. It was the number three rated Wii game that year.

During Madden Wii I was hungry to move into art direction, territory previously un-touched by interface designers within EA. I worked my way through the position of Art Lead (which was overseeing and directing all aspects of game art; concept, animation, environments, characters, effects and front end) for a couple of Nintendo DS titles, and got a shot at art directing a short-cycle title called FIFA Street 3 for the Nintendo DS. After FS3 I led Celebrity Sports Showdown for the Wii, which was a fantastic but little known title that fell victim to poor timing and no marketing dollars for launch, so we found ourselves prey to the dust bunnies on the bottom shelves of the game stores :( . Coincidentally Nintendo - who gets a behind the scenes look at all the Wii games in production across the globe - came out with a game called Wii Sports Resort which was virtually identical to our game, but much better marketed and featured the Nintendo Miis (instead of obscure celebrities like Keith Urban and Kristy Yamaguchi) canoeing and flying little jet planes on an island sports resort. Hmmm... coincidence? Anyway, I left near the end of that title to have my brilliant baby. After a year I came back from mat leave to mixed titles including EA Sports Active and FIFA Online. I'm now currently art directing two undisclosed FIFA titles that will ship in late 2011.

Amidst all that I purchased a small dog daycare business in 2004 which I worked with my husband to turn into Pup Culture Dog Daycare, which he proudly continues to operate.

Over the past 5 years I have worked with my vizsla, Zuzu, in competition obedience and agility as well as tracking, field and conformation. This past summer we competed at the 2010 Canadian National Agility Championships and she recently earned her Master Agility Dog of Canada title. I also have a beagle whom I trial at Masters level in agility. In addition I have been providing obedience training through the daycare in my (ha ha) spare time. I've played Ultimate (frisbee) recreationally and competitively for the past 14 years (US Regionals 2001, World Ultimate Club Championships 2002, Canadian Nationals 2004) and continue to captain and participate in rec leagues to get my weekly cardio. 
I am a mother (now single) who also bakes, draws, reads, writes, cooks, and most of all... LEARNS. I love to be challenged and I'm inspired by passion. Passion for pretty much anything turns my crank. I am addicted to "busy", and I am fired by gorgeous and innovative design.

My role models have been many, but most importantly, my mother who always said "Only boring people are bored." and taught me that we are responsible for our own happiness, and when we feel our spark burning out we need to "do something constructive!" And so, I go, I do, I love, I learn. That's me. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Doggy in the Window

The other day my Facebook status read as follows:

ag.gray.gate ‎(Alicia) wishes I didn't wear my slippers outside and step in dookie. In other news... Free: one Velma. I'd say to a good home but we're not picky.

No offers. Not one.

Later that afternoon Jack and Isla were commiserating about their strong desire for a cat. Previous conversations with me about this impending arrival have alluded to the demise of one of the dogs. As in another animal entering our home requires the exit of a current resident beast, either Velma the Griffon or Tobias the Chihuahua.

"But I will be so sad if Velma goes away," says Jack. Then he continues "and Mommy and Daddy will be so sad if Toby dies.".

Burn. It's gonna be a long time till we get that cat.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Again with the Hair?

I have this little precious vial of cream. As you may remember I am having an ongoing facial acne crisis where my zits think I am 16 and my wrinkles think I am 70. Awesomesauce. A fugly, humiliating combination. But there are people starving so get some perspective right?! Ughhhhhhhh....
Just so you know who we are dealing with here.
Anyhoo this precious little vial has silver in it. Whatever that means. So every night I have been putting the concoction onto my face and it seems to be helping. Or I respond well to sugar pills. I am easily persuaded and have a penchant for carpet baggers and psychosomatic tendencies.

I digress, the silver potion is working. That is, it was working until my almost three year old daughter found it and squeezed the entire contents of the precious little vial into her hair. My only precious little vial. That was a gift. So its not like I can just run out and grab another. It has to be shipped from Never-Never Land.

After having a ridiculous ugly-cry overreaction to the situation I snuggled my gross, cream-covered, sticky-headed little Bean till she slept. And in the morning I brushed her dry, matted little mess. I could have washed it out I suppose, but I brushed it anyway. And it felt good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Somethings Gotta Give...

I have some fantastic news...wait for it...wait for it... I am officially enrolled in the Self-Employment Program here in Rossland (well, Greater Trail I guess)! Now I have kept fairly mum on this whole subject but with this latest development the cat is out of the bag. This is the news we have been waiting for!
Both my husband and myself have long dreamt of owning our own business, we just never knew what that was going to look like. Then just over six months ago, in the few days between putting an offer on a house here in town, but before listing/selling our Vancouver home, we decided to start a brewery in Rossland. Then we packed up our old life in Vancouver and began our new life here.

Here is how the idyllic dream looks: We (me funded through Community Futures and Michael as my unpaid man servant) establish Rossland's first brewery since prohibition put the Le Roi Brewery out of business at the turn of the century. Then we are on our own. We have a smallish store-front, on-site craft-brewing, retail and tasting room on Columbia (Main Street). Our little Company begins to support and sponsor all the fabulous events that the wonderful people of Rossland create, host and attend. Investors come out of the woodwork to throw money at such a fabulous idea enabling us to grow and prosper. We build an entirely green, zero waste, incredibly efficient brewery which truly reflects Rossland and our communal values. We even employ some local farmers to grow our hops which is mutually beneficial. The Brewery garnishes heaps of local support, and because it is easily one of the best beers anyone has tasted word spreads like wildfire and our Brewery becomes a tourist attraction as well. From there it is all up.

Currently I find myself writing, researching and developing a business plan under the tutelage of the Program. Michael is in Vancouver again this week, (hopefully he'll have and audition and book a another part before Christmas!) which means in addition to business planning I am the sole parent here for a week. YAY! Sarcasm, that was sarcasm. Which brings me to the point where I ask your understanding and allegiance. Please bear with me if I miss a day here and there over the next few months, keep coming back - I will not be going anywhere!

Thank you all so much for your love and support, for your readership and comments. Oh, and if you have a half million kicking around, I know just the place for you to invest it :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kettle Corn...Sort of.

It has been four years since there was a microwave in our home and surprisingly it really was not a very difficult adjustment to make. In fact the only thing I found myself missing was the popcorn.

I dug out the air popper that we had been given for our wedding. Air popped corn can be delicious, it is low in fat, has a fraction of the salt and none of the chemicals that are put into microwave popcorn. But it lacks that je ne sais quoi of its microwavable cousin.
It was only recently that I discovered just how remarkable popcorn over the stove can be. I have two wonderful girlfriends whose wonderful husbands make incredible popcorn over the stove. It is far quieter than air popped (which is important after putting poppets to bed)and I find it is in fact easier as well. And my house smells like a movie theatre.

Here is my recipe for Kettle Corn...sort of:

-In a large pot over high-ish heat melt 3-4 Tbls. Coconut Oil (high flashpoint and heaps of good for you stuff). 
-After a minute or two add 1/2 cup kernels. 
-K, so here for an optional treat, I will add 1/4 cup of sugar for more of a "kettle corn" kinda feel. 
-Stir well and cover. 
-Lower heat a titch. 
-Shake often until popping stops. 
-Dump into a large bowl, or leave it in the pot and just protect the surface where the pot will sit. 
-If sugar has been added, salt to taste.  If no sugar has been added I will add 1tsp. now as well as a few Tbls. melted butter. Sometimes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


As an actor I volunteered to play the rejection game. I'm sadistic that way I guess. I walk into an audition room full of the knowledge that the people on the other side of the desk have made up their mind before I have even hit my mark. These are my choices and my experiences as an adult, so it is completely different to watch my children experience the rejection of not being chosen.
I know this is a life lesson and that it will serve a child well in the future. There will be teams Jack and Isla won't make,  or friends who do not want to play with them. She might not get a speaking part in the school play and his poem might not be picked for publication. Then again, they might.

We started making trips to Science World beginning when Jack was just a baby. It really is a great place to wile away a rainy day in Van. The kids love the familiarity of the static exhibits, anticipate things like Lego or Body World coming to town, and always there is the excitement of 'making' things work. My little scientists.

Anyhoo, in the four years we had been going, Jack had never been chosen to be a helper on the Science Stage at a live show. Granted for the first year he was a spitty lump, then I guess he was still pretty little for a while to play with Hydrogen and such - but he didn't know that. Jack always wanted to be picked and every time he was not, he was crest fallen. I tried my best to use these moments as empathetic teaching tools. "Maybe that little girl had never been picked either", "They were using big kids today", "It will be your turn one day, it just wasn't today". But still, baby Jack really had no frame of reference.

Too soon it seemed, our final trip to Science World arrived. In between experiments and tactile experience I tried to impress upon Jack and Isla both that this was our last visit before we moved to Rossland. We went to a Science Show, it was great as always, except that you-know-who never got to go up on stage. Still, we stayed for many hours, and then it was time for the last show of the day.

It was a weekday, so after about 2pm all the school kids had gone. As we sat down, there were maybe 5 or 6 other audience members. Isla was sleeping in her stroller. I had a good feeling in the pit of my stomach. "Jack," I said "I think that you are going to get picked today! Make sure you hold your hand up high." He held his little hand up so high and this wonderful staff member called Jack onto the stage! After what seemed a lifetime of waiting to a little person, he was finally chosen.
I could not have been more proud. Afterward I approached my new favourite staff member and explained Jack's circumstances. He told me I could always come and make a special request, but somehow that would have felt like cheating. Jack had made a wish with his whole heart and that day the lesson he learned was that dreams do come true...and he has the video to prove it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I have no idea when I started to like quiche. I never did as a child, there was always something about the dish that never seemed to sit right. Isla, on the other hand, will eat three man-sized pieces! It wasn't until I headed to a pot luck and wanted to A: try my hand at pie crust from scratch and B: make a large vegetarian dish for a friend who would be in attendance. It was a huge hit, inexpensive, and my previous aversion to quiche had apparently gone the way of the dodo. My personal verdict; delicious!

Now that we have had our first snow fall of the year here in Rossland I am starting to break out the good ole comfort foods once more- cause they are splendid I can use the oven to heat the house!

I follow the recipe for fresh pie crust on the box of the Crisco all-vegetable shortening. Sometimes I will use butter, even though the pros recommend against it, since the shortening is hydrogenated. The crust will be more brown and flavourful with butter, and I still cannot decide which way I prefer. Oh I do substitute some of the regular unbleached flour with whole wheat or better yet, Spelt. Some, not all, no more than a quarter.

The first misconception I had about quiche was that baking one would require heaps of eggs. The one I make only requires three. I pre-make several balls of dough and freeze or refrigerate them (depending on the weeks meal plan) then as I am combining the quiche innards I  preheat the oven to 400 F and bake the empty crust. It takes about 7-10 minutes to mix the following ingredients:
In a mixing bowl beat 3 eggs with a fork. Stir in:
-half cup crumbled feta
-1-2 diced or chopped onion (depending on your texture preference)
-cup of full fat, plain yoghurt
-pack of defrosted and drained chopped spinach
-dash of nutmeg
-Salt and pepper to taste since some Feta is quite salty already
-Pour into crust.
-Top with fresh grated Asiago.
Turn the oven down and bake for 45 minutes at 375 F

Boom: quiche in under an hour!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Little Piggie...

Canadian Halloween, it is the same day as American Halloween but ones costume needs to be designed in such a way that it can be worn over a snowsuit. It is either that or you are forced to wear your snowsuit over top and then what was the point of even wearing a costume? Ughhhh...I hated that as a child...that daylight Trick or Treating scene from E.T. where the kids are running door to door in their tutus and tights always made me wicked jealous.  That being said I still had my love on for Halloween till I was in my twenties, have I mentioned that I look like I am 12?!

For Jack's very first Halloween I wanted to be crafty and make his costume from scratch. I loved my costumes growing up and they were never store bought. My mom made them when I was little and later we would drag out our parents old clothes or hit Value Village and assemble wonderful outfits. One year I commissioned a poodle skirt, meaning I begged and my mother made it happen. I wore that poodle skirt for three years. It was wonderful. I cannot believe I have no idea where it is now.

Little Piggy Jack @5 months
As the 31st of October loomed large in front of me I realized I was waaaaaay too disorganized and unmotivated to buy the scratch materials, so I improvised - still well inbounds of my "must-make" parameters.

I bought the biggest stuffed animal I could find, gutted it, and cut its face off. I then hemmed the raw edges, sewed ties onto the back and glued the nose onto a piece of cardboard with a Dummy poking through. Genius!
I loved it so much that both of my not-so-chubby little piggies wore it! Some other families have even borrowed the piggy and provided their own stuffing! It was the best "Home-Made" costume EVER!
Little Piggy Isla @11months

Monday, October 25, 2010

Homage Monday - Matthew Erickson

Matthew Erickson - IMBD 

I have been writing these Homage Mondays for a few weeks now and with every article I feel increasingly blessed to have shared a moment of my life with these incredible artists. This is especially true of Matt. He is easily one of the most fascinating people I have ever met - and I cannot help but think that meeting him was a touch of serendipity.

When I was a knee-high my parents started the Castor Little Theatre company in Castor, Alberta. I loved the smells, sounds and spectacle of the theatre. I still do. After moving to Calgary I adored heading to the Rosebud Theatre  for dinner and a show. It pulled on my heart in a special way. I would later discover it was Matt's parents who founded this iconic establishment in Rosebud, Alberta.

Charming, humble, funny and disarmingly handsome, Matthew Erickson was raised in this small arts community. He says that growing up in Rosebud made him an actor by default. He has performed theatre and opera, training in Canada and abroad. 

Photo by Jesse Hutch
Seemingly random (cause that is how he rolls!) yet nonetheless a wicked important side note about the man: Matthew spent six months as a lay Franciscan monk. Trying to live a life of chastity, prayer, and poverty is pretty difficult in a modern setting. Since Franciscans cannot touch money, Matthew signed all his paychecks over to his roommate and lived simply off of prayer and charity.  His Utopian life came to a crashing halt around tax season( <-- also the telltale sign one is an actor), when he was thrust back into the world of filthy lucre.  When you ask him about this experience, he usually just mumbles quietly and looks into the distance. 

Add to this that Matthew plays the banjo, is a Civil Engineer, amateur boxer, edited for Bodog Fight, directs for film and television, fences competitively - which is where he met his exceedingly lovely wife and future Olympian, Mona. They are Lovers AND Fighters!!!!!! He has spent many hours voicing over characters from the Dragonball and Gundam series for legions english speaking fans. I know that this might be the first time you are hearing about the man but, if you google Matthew or happen to hit an Anime Convention in Vancouver  you will find he is already a legend.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Sister Wife

Deliverance shacks
Our new home is nestled in amongst some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. That being said, there are still times when I pass through certain un-incorporated towns here in the Interior where I can't help but hum that little ditty from Deliverance. It is hot, dry, the lawns are spotted with vehicles and in my mind I see hillbillies rocking the day away on the front porch cleaning their Smith&Wesson whilst picking a banjo. I joke that we moved our little family so we might be closer to the cousins...for marrying purposes.

Ainsworth Hotsprings
We had visitors from the Big City the other day. We took them to Ainsworth Hot Springs. Chrissy is a legendary domestic engineer, mother of three and wife to one. She and I often share our husbands when one of them is working and we have plans to play. Well, not "share", but use interchangeably as an additional child chaperon. The Hot Springs was one such occasion. Chrissy's hubby stayed behind in Vancouver to work and Mike had the day off. Yay extra hands!

The Big Love Family
Very much occupied with five floating poppets in the pool our little gaggle did not really notice the stares that we were garnering. Then when we did start to reagard many of the patrons eyeballing our ragtag bunch we assumed it was due to too much splashing. We continued to pass our kids back and forth, parent to parent, taking turns bringing groups of mismatched siblings into the cave and basin with no regard for whose child belonged to whom. Then something occurred to me: Big Love - after all Bountiful is just around the corner. I wondered to myself if we were being gawked at because everyone assumed that we were polygamists.

My Beautiful Sister-Wife
K, so Chrissy and I are always being mistaken for sisters and now I was pretty sure we were being mistaken for sister-wives. Fast forward to the restaurant. More open gawking. I made a multiple-wife crack to Mike. A gentleman actually turned around and said, "I thought you were polygamists from Bountiful". I almost died, and so did my sister-wife. Mike just looked like he thought he was especially awesome. Good times.

With Mike away, the dishes piling up and my patience wearing down I sure could go for a sister-wife right now. I would totally get away with it here. I just want to specify that she be the female equivalent of a eunic and live in the carriage house out back.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cook, Clean, Sleep Repeat...

I am feeling a little under the weather and am calling in sick. So who do I call? There are no sick days for the 24 hour parent. The kids have music class, then they insist on being fed, despite their decries they REQUIRE a nap and then I have to feed them again. And clean up in between. I need an extra-long weekend. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Times (they are a) Changing

Having kids has significantly altered the "road trip" for me. Aside from additional snacks and potty breaks I am now packing for three. My husband still packs for one - that hasn't changed at all. He often brings his one tiny, half-filled bag to the top of the stairs at the last minute and sets it next to my open, still being filled, melee of a pack job. Seemingly out of pity for my situation he then asks if I need to put anything into his bag. Ughhhhhhhh. Of course, the children's bags are packed, (BY ME!!!) waiting at the door and have been there since last night.

Thanks to Murphy's Law something gets left behind. More often than not it is my something. My shoes, my bathing suit, my mittens, my makeup, my hose, my snack, my gift certificate et cetera. It seems no matter how many lists I make, or how much attention I pay, my efforts are insufficient to get everything into the vehicle without fail one really important item sits at home awaiting my return. Awesomesauce.

Anyhoo we set off to a wedding this past weekend. Prep was particularly harried because Mike was home for roughly five minutes in between trips to Vancouver and the cesspool hot tub needed to be drained and refilled. This has to happen at above freezing temperatures, so we needed to wait till that happened. We had guess-timated the time for refilling and cleaning, but really underestimated the unbelievable amount of time it would take to drain it. Seriously, it took the better part of an hour.

The wedding ceremony was at 4. We were in the truck by 11:30, which would put us in town by 3:00 and we could check-in to the wonderful Cinnamon Bear Lodge, get dressed, figure out what I left behind, and get to the church on time. Fwhew. Then to the party. At least that's the plan.

As I wrestled Isla into her crinoline, straightened my hair and found my shoes it occurred to me that, possibly for the first time in 5 years everything I had meant to pack made it on the trip!  Our picture perfect family rolled up in front of the church (where Mike and I had been married 7 years before!) into rockstar parking. We had 5 minutes to go...wait, why was there still rockstar parking? We pulled the poppets out of the truck. I re-checked the invitation. Right day? Check. Right location? Obvious. Ummm, what the crap was going on?

The church was empty except for one or two women. Seeing our faces they asked where we were going. "A wedding" I answered, then "what time is it?". "5 to 5" came the answer. Wheels began to turn, something familiar began to claw at my brain...then there it was - the time change. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

How could we forget the time change?! I mean, by the time we were on the road it was already too late we had lost that extra hour, but everytime we drive past the Mountain Standard time change sign my husband is forced to point it out like he has Tourette's. But, for whatever reason, it didn't happen this trip and was so far off the radar I don't even know what to say.

I felt like such a heel. Still do. At least there was still the party, and we were right in time for that!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Technical Difficulties...

It is Monday and I am feeling overwhelmed and under-researched. We were away all weekend (in the car mostly) and Mike has gone back to Vancouver to work for the next week and a half.

Not usually one to get a case of the Mondays I am finding this day particularly debilitating thus far. I have one baby to the left and one to the right - both are spewing a constant barrage of verbalization at an unreasonable volume, and being especially demanding... about EVERYTHING. I think they need some concentrated attention.

What I am saying is I will be back tomorrow guns blazing and my wits will be functioning at full capacity, so thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll be back in the morning! For now I have an arse to wipe and it is not mine.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dummy Fairy - Part 2

The Dummy Fairy that I had been telling you about last week arrived a few days ago. There had been a couple late nights in a row so I actually asked Isla one evening (we had been prepping her all day) if she wanted the Fairy to come that night. Exhausted, she shook her little piggy-tailed head no. Fine. Tomorrow then.

In the morning I spoke with her about how the Dummy Fairy knew she was tired and hadn't come out of respect, however there were babies waiting in need of a new Dummy. Isla decided the time was now - with one condition. She did want the Dummy Fairy to come and bring her her prezzies, however Isla also wanted for the Dummy itself to be left so she could pick the baby who needed it most. I agreed to relay the message, not fully knowing if it was the right decision or not.

The Dummy Fairy arrived around nap time. There was much excitement over the gifts, we read the letter the Fairy left congratulating Isla on her BIG GIRL decision, and showed her where her the baby's dummy was left so she could give it away to whomever she chose.

It was then Isla revealed to me more of what is inside her big sweet heart. She picked a two year old boy here in town (who I was sure did not use a Dummy nor had he ever). I bit my tongue and played along.

Then the wheels began to turn for me. This boy is younger than Isla, and we do refer to him as a "baby". Mostly, "leave him be/let him have the toy/stop bugging him, etc...he is just a baby!". Isla has never seen him with a Dummy, so he obviously is in need of one. There is more. This little boy whom Isla chose is in the tumultuous throes of receiving a new sibling, and moving house, and just being two. Because the Dummy is was her comfort, and now amidst all this upheaval it would be his as well. Her decision was so magnanimous, and gracious, and empathetic I am astounded. Wise in a way I never could have been in that moment, but am willing to learn. I am so proud.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

That Itch

That Itch

Bronze Dibatsu in Kamakura
I have that old familiar 
itch. So does my husband. It's not what you think, not that 7 year itch, but the kind one gets when you are bitten by the travel bug. Before we were married we had both travelled to places in and around Australia and Europe separately. The places we travelled after we were married you could count on one hand.

Then last year Mike and I stumbled upon a seat sale to Japan - $420 round trip/each + taxes for two weeks. It was an incredible deal - if I had not been on the trip myself, I would have said it was too good to believe! Add to this spectacular price the fact that Mike's brother lives in Tokyo and we had a place to stay I bought the tickets pretty much on the spot.

Our mothers graciously flew from Alberta to Vancouver and lived in our home with our kids for one week each. A huge blessing. Though, I was fairly reluctant to leave Isla. At the time she could have flown for free, but we weren't sure how easy or difficult travelling with a 22month old in Tokyo would have been. In the end it was really nice to spend two weeks of one on one time together, something we hadn't done as a couple in over 5 years!
Matsumoto Castle

Japan was AMAZING! We travelled as far and wide as was possible in two weeks. From Tokyo to the Sea of Japan, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nigata, Endoshima, Hakone and many more. The country and cities are breathtaking at the best of times, but it was fall, and especially beautiful. We saw Mt. Fuji twice in the distance on separate trips, apparently quite a feat. Ironically on the day we went to see the volcano it remained shrouded behind the cloud cover!  

Now a year later I am dying to go back. My desire possibly exacerbated by the knowledge that I cannot go right now. I am actively resisting looking up seat sales on Flight Centre's website as my little family is on the cusp of a new adventure, (one I will tell you about later) and I know it will be a while before we can spend our time or our money in such a way again.

Tokyo Tower at Dusk

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Stuff(ing) of Legends...

Trace, this ones for you!

This coming Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving.

A few years ago I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. The rock being my L-O-V-E for the traditional family dressing that has been passed down through the generations. The hard place being my pregnant belly. You see, the preggo are advised NOT to eat stuffing cooked IN a bird. Salmonella or some shite.  Anyhoo, the future Godparents of my fabulous daughter were hosting an expat-style Thanksgiving (ironic since most of the expats in attendance have no such thing in their home countries, but the idea is just so darn catchy!!!)
I was in charge of the bird. I knew that my Grandmother's dressing (a recipe I will NOT be giving out) needed to be prepped and cooked outside of the bird (insert dead relatives turning in their graves here). Then, inspired by a video I had seen for a "Man-Style BBQ Chicken" involving the insertion of a tallboy beer can into the cavity of a chicken thereby essentially steaming the bird from the inside whilst cooking, I had a revelation.

The Magnificent Martha Stewart Ladies and Gentleman!

I quartered a heap of apples and stuffed as many as I could into that big ol' organic turkey. The premise was the same (apples steaming the bird from inside) but here is where it differed; when basting draw juice from the apples inside the bird. The sugar from the apples effectively caramelizes the outside of the bird resulting the most beautiful golden brown turkey you have ever seen. And it is SOOOOOO moist. The gravy is both savoury and slightly sweet. Delightful!

Last year I insisted we abandon carving the turkey in the old fashion for a new style. I know, how Victorian of me, right?! About my discoveries: the internet is awfully humbling and I have realized roughly several gagillion-million people also stuff their birds with apples. Even more carve in the "new fashion" so here it is - I am sure your way is great, but this way is better: How to carve a Turkey

K, so since I have had a few glasses of wine I'll give you one last of my Thanksgiving secrets: a dram of Grand Marnier in homemade cranberry sauce is TO DIE FOR!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

To All the Rossland Ladies

Heather Good -

I have been so inspired by the women that populate this town since I have moved here. They are entrepreneurs, teachers, nurses, mothers, artists, adventurers, and more. Last night a new found friend brought me to Glee Club. Yes. Glee Club. And do you know who was there? Everyone, see above.

Michelle Tanguay
A few weeks ago another wonderful new friend, pictured right *gulp*, took me mountain biking (real mountain biking) for the first time since before I had popped out poppets. And do you know who we saw on the trails hiking, biking and berry picking? Other women. Again, see above.

There is a women's Roller Derby Team (Gnarlie's Angels), Women's Shuttle Night (a van takes/pulls women/bikes to the top of Red Mountain and they bike down) and on select evenings there is wine and chocolate at Mountain Nugget which is owned and operated by one of the towns  Womentrepreneurs Trish Dyer whom I featured in last weeks Artist Homage after the ride. The town is home to Stephanie Gauvin who is a a world class artist, and skier...and I am dying to meet her. There is even a town-wide ladies night out on occasion!

When all is said and done I am stoked to raise my daughter here surrounded by strong, compassionate, artistic, cultured, talented, athletic, self-sufficient women! The candy on the apple is really that the men of Rossland support the women and patronize (the good way!) our business endeavours. I always joke that the boys in town are ruined for life outside Rossland, the girls they were raised with could do anything they could do - and lots of times better :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dummy Fairy

Have you heard of the Dummy Fairy? The Dummy Fairy has been to our house once before, she will soon be visiting us once again. I am gonna go ahead and humble myself right now and confess it is not my fabulous idea but that of the Super Nanny. There I said it - but it is one hell of a notion and I have adopted it fully into my parenting arsenal.

When Jack was almost three our house had a visit from the Dummy Fairy. The Fairy came in the middle of the night (just like her cousin the Tooth Fairy will) and took away his dummy to give to a baby who needed it. In place of his beloved she left a rechargeable night light and a puzzle. That was me - I thought something for the night and something for the day would help a little man out.

Isla will be three this fall. The time is fast approaching for our next visit from the Dummy Fairy. Isla is in her "big girl" bed, she is potty trained (day and night), has slept through the night for forever, and she is already sort of weaned from her dummy. I guess it just comes down to her parents.

For all of the reasons listed above, I am the one having a hard time with the Fairy arriving presently. She is growing so fast, in so many ways but, when she is using her dummy she still makes baby noises.  Those noises stopped as soon as the Fairy came to Jack. Sigh. Her prezzies are even waiting in the closet. I am going to have to suck it up, I know, I know. I think I'll go for a snuggle.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Homage Monday - Meg Sholdice

Meg SholdiceMeg's Youtube channel.
I met Meg in Theatre School and have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with her on several occacsions, but what I really loved was getting a chance to sit back and enjoy her as an audience member. She is just so interesting - and funny. Like Catherine O'Hara funny...and I would be remiss if I failed to mention she is also Marilyn Monroe sexy! What Meg brings to the stage, or into a room which is rare and admiral is the power of her presence. She is very easy to watch.

After graduating from Mount Royal University Meg went south to pursue a 'real' career, "...the story goes like this, I was an actor but I was scared so I became a teacher..." At the University of Lethbridge Meg acquired both a Bachelor of Fine Arts AND a Bachelor of Education in 2005. 

Teaching did two things for Meg. First it helped her realize that she didn't want to give up acting entirely. In 2005 she started a improv theatre troupe for a hobby on the side. Then secondly, "...working with children, who have infinite potential, magnified my desire to follow my own dreams, so once again I am an actor."

Meg quit teaching to risk it all as a starving artist,  and her courage has paid off. She now bears the prestigious and highly coveted title of "Working Actor". In 08/09 she was even the Artistic Director of Alberta High School of Fine Arts.

Currently Meg is the Box Office Manager and heads the Educational Programming at the Pumphouse Theatre in Calgary, Alberta. She is an Artistic Director, Producer and Actor for Late Late Brakfast Show, and most recently she can be seen in the Shakespeare Company's latest production of the Scottish Play as one of the three witches. I highly recommend you get a ticket!

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