Monday, December 28, 2009

2010: New Challenges

I don't normally make new years resolutions. If at all ever attempted, it has usually resulted in instant failure. I would beat myself up for a bit for being incompetent with the change and would then go back to doing whatever it was I dubbed to be resolved.

Although I didn't make any official resolutions for 2009, I found I had accomplished a lot. I stopped biting my nails after 25 yrs; I lost 21 lbs of additional weight I had been lugging around; I changed my eating habits and made more home cooked meals and I got married to the love of my life. 2009 was an amazing year.

I figured since I had accomplished so much this year that I could challenge myself more in 2010. My husband, Robert and I plan to cut out all take out and restaurants (except our anniversary) and make all our meals at home with fresh local produce and organic meats only. We'll drastically reduce the amount of processed foods that enter the household.

Our plan is to be more involved with our hobbies. Many projects remain dormant throughout the apartment with layers of 2009 dust. My sewing machine has been calling my name as have my knitting needles. These past couple of weeks I've been lining up some projects to keep me busy like finish a scarf I've been working on for TWO YEARS. Scarves used to take me a week.

One of the knitting projects I'm planning is the Puff Daddy. This delightful little puffy chair/foot stool looks like a fairly simple challenge but it's one that will keep my busy for months. Not sure what colour I want to do, but I'm thinking maybe a charcoal (shows less cat hair).

I love photography, so I decided I'll also be participating in Project 365. Taking one photo everyday for a year will prove to be challenging, but my hope is to keep myself as busy as possible and to spend as little money and save, save, save! Taking photos everyday will also help to perfect my craft and thanks to my brother's awesome Christmas present to Robert and me (a photoflex umbrella) my subject lighting can be mastered!

2010 will be busy, it will be challenging and it will be frustrating at times. But I'm ready :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Subway Sketches

While tidying up, I came across a little sketch book I had started in early 2008. I use to pull it out during my morning commute on the subway and sketch people around me to pass the 20 minute ride. Whenever someone would become suspicious of me doodling them, I'd pretend I was looking at something else for a bit. Some people were hit and miss, only being present for just a few stops. I find that I forget details quite quickly when my subject leaves, so I have many sketches that are incomplete. Below are some of the more complete sketches.

Finding these has me excited to try it again. I look forward to posting more in the near future!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chocolate Milk/Dairy Beverage?

There's a new chocolate milk in town. It's no longer just milk but Milk/Dairy Beverage. A colleague of mine first brought this to my attention a couple of weeks ago when he brought home what he thought was a carton of chocolate milk, only to discover the word Beverage added. Both curious and wary, he decided to try it. As he poured a glass, he first noticed it's colour had changed to a "grey-brown". When it came to taste, he wasn't at all impressed by it's "chalkiness" and decided to discard the rest.

I haven't tried the new drink nor do I plan to as I am lactose intolerant. As much as I want to be a friend to Dairy, it wants to remain enemies. But for all my friends and loved ones that can enjoy milk, I was a little worried about what they might be consuming, and I was determined to find some answers.

Now, I'm not 100% positive that what I have found is the answer, but it does bring a lot more questions to the table about what people consume on a daily basis.

There is a possibility that the Milk/Dairy Beverage is made from Protelac 230, a milk replacer,which is "composed of between 35 to 45 percent lactose, between 33 and 43 percent nonfat dry milk, between 10 and 20 percent canola oil, between 2 and 8 percent sodium caseinate, and less than 2 percent each of sodium phosphate and flavor. It is to be used as an ingredient in the manufacture of instant, hot beverage mixes, to give a milky flavor and a creamy texture, or in vending machine applications, as a foaming agent.

The other theory of why it may be called Milk/Dairy Beverage is because an artificial sweetener replaced the sugar. According to Agropur (a division of Natrel), "a chocolate milk can ONLY be made with milk or milk ingredients, a flavour preparation (cocoa powder) and a sweetener. Low-Calorie sweeteners, such as sucralose and Ace-K (acesulfame-potassium) can only be used in Milk Beverages" (hence the probable change in labeling from Milk Beverage to Dairy Beverage).

What reasons would companies like Natrel, Sealtest and Beatrice have for marketing Chocolate Milk Beverage? Lower costs and greater profits? Probably. But why continue to create products that utilize chemical additives such as sucralose, aspartame and Ace-K when we know these are bad for us?

I plan to further investigate this with letters to the large milk chains and will update my blog at a later date. For now, I would probably steer this product clear from my family until I get some clearer answers.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Classic scariness

My husband and I wandered through the local Blockbuster last night in the hope of finding a "scary" movie to rent for a quiet Halloween night in. We never found it. What we did find in the horror section were gore based films. I've never really found gore to be all that frightening. Gore is . . . well, gross. There are only so many horrible blood, gut and violent images my brain can take, and after most of the shite that I've been exposed to by friends, I think my brain has had enough.

We left empty handed and I was a little disappointed that there are not more haunting style movies. Classics like Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror and The Shining. I was very much excited with the release of Paranormal Activity and we had a chance to see it a couple of weeks ago.

I liked it and there were many great frightening scenes. As scary as it is to think of someone chasing you and then hacking you up to little itty bitty pieces, isn't even scarier to think of something you can't see dragging you out of your bed and down the corridor to your potential doom?

The reviews I had read the day before were mixed. Many people were scared, but there seemed to be much more that proclaimed how "not scared" or "bored" they were, leaving me to wonder why on earth someone would want to brag about their lack of imagination. Is it possible that some people treat these types of movie as a "test" of how brave and above it all they are, viewing it with a defensive frame of mind? It's simple to do if you only concentrate on the things that remind you that you are watching a movie. But where's the fun in that?

As much as I enjoyed Paranormal Activity, I can't say I was thrilled with the ending. Leaving the theatre I imagined a possibility of endings much greater than the hollywood cheese that resulted. If you have seen it, I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven't . . . I recommend you watch it at home...alone...with the lights off.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Floating on an unfamiliar tide

Extracted from a Great Lake Swimmers song entitled "Three Days at Sea (Three Lost Years)", unfamiliar tide has much meaning to me. Here is a sample of the opening lyrics:

First day I was lost at sea
And I had nothing to eat
But I thought home was near
I found myself in an unfamiliar place
My first night on an unfamiliar tide

I never really cared much for lyrics until this song entered my life; it's always been about the instruments harmonizing together to create a mood (especially the more melancholy ones). It amazes me how a few minor key tones can set a wave of emotion through my body, making the hairs on my arms dance with excitement or make my eyes well up in an instant. Some music makes me want to get up and dance (in my head . . . I'm a little shy), while others I'll strum my guitar to and imagine that I am that performer (come on, we've all done it).

The first time I heard this song, I had ended a 6 year relationship and gone through a couple of rebounds. I had decided that I needed time to be single and to be on my own. Those lyrics translated to me that I was chartering new territory and that I was floating on an unfamiliar tide. I had never really been single since my first date more than a decade and a half ago when I was 15 and being on my own was all very new to me and a little scary, but very exciting! Being single was fun!

It was a wonderful experience; I learned a lot about myself and in that alone time I met the love of my life. After 3 years together, we married this May. We have a one and a half year old kitty named Nami :)

This blog is my new "unfamiliar tide".