May 31, 2012

4 Recipes: Beth-Style

I love to bake and cook. It feels therapeutic to me. I love dreaming about what meals I could create. The only two things I dislike are the preparatory shopping (I can never find all the ingredients) and the need to follow a recipe precisely (usually because I’m missing at least one ingredient, due to oversight or grocery store frustration).

The result: no two recipes are quite the same! Sometimes this is a disaster, sometimes it is a great success. Here are some of my more recent successes – good luck duplicating them. Also, I have no photos. I think there is one on Karen’s camera of the bread…but that’s about it.

(I’m doing all the wrong things on this blog post: no photos, long entry, unhelpful ideas to duplicate.)

Artichoke & Tomato Pasta

Olive Oil
1 can artichokes
¾ yellow pepper
Garlic, crushed/minced
Fresh herbs (I used rosemary, salt, pepper. Would like to try basil)
Half a pint of grape tomatoes
½ c. White wine
½ c. Vegetable stock
Pasta (I use non-white)
Cornstarch (we were out of flour)
Goat Cheese

1. Chop veggies to desired size (I like big chunks).
2. Heat olive oil in the skillet – just a bit. Two twoonies worth.
3. Add pepper & artichokes to the oil. Add garlic & herbs.
4. Brown.
5. Add white wine, vegetable stock, remainder of veggies.
6. Bring to boil. Cook pasta as usual.
7. Thicken sauce slightly with flour/cornstarch, simmer for 5 minutes with no lid.
8. Remove from heat. Drain pasta.
9. Put it in a bowl. Top with goat cheese.
10. Eat. Will be hot. (if you want spicy hot, I bet you could add chili flakes)

Whole Wheat Crusty Loaf

1. Start with a basic no-knead bread recipe.
2. Substitute in 2/3 c. whole wheat flour. Add 2 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp water.
3. Follow recipe directions, encrust with wheat germ.


1 can chickpeas, drained
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Fresh herbs (I used thyme, Karen uses mint. Mint is best.)

1. Blend in food processor.
2. Taste test.
3. Adjust flavor to your liking.
4. Put in container(s). Refrigerate.
5. Eat with veggies, pitas, nacho chips. Or a spoon. Or, if you’re having a super-ghetto-night, on rice noodles with crushed cashews.*

Almond-Date Bars

Almonds (the rest of the bag)
Ground almond (1/3 of a little bulk bag)
Dates (the rest of the container)
Dried cranberries (small handful)
Flax seeds (a small pour)
Cocoa (1/4 cup-ish)
Vanilla (couple drops)
Honey (Tbsp or two)

1. Coarsely chop the dates & almonds.
2. Whip the dates through the food processor.
3. Add everything else.
4. Process.
5. Taste-test. Adjust ingredients as desired.
6. Texture-test. Should stick together when pressed, but not too sticky.
7. Process again, if necessary.
8. Dump into wax-paper-lined dish. Press firm into bar shape. Choose thickness as desired.
9. Refrigerate. Cut into pieces and EAT.

*not naming names on this one, but it may have happened.

May 30, 2012

Bored or Something Bigger

I'm bored of blogging.

Actually, as I think about this more, it's not exactly boredom.

I’m at my digital capacity. Maybe past it.

waitingI need to rething this whole interweb thing. It was easy when I started, back before Facebook or Twitter or Flickr or Skype or GMAIL! And I’m not even on Pinterest or Tumblr or Instagram (yet!).

Back then, I blogged. And I emailed.

And now…now I do SO MUCH. Or I don’t do it all, but I want to, because I like staying connected to people, and I like feedback and encouragement (and bald-faced lies about how great I am) and…maybe someday I'll get famous off of this (yeah. right.), and...and …and all the things that are hazards of our current tech-savvy, real-time responding culture.

I took this photo back in January of 2008. I was bored. And unsettled. I am bored and unsettled again, although this round is different. Not worse, not better (maybe better), just different.

(insert intentional end to a ramble that could vaguely go on forever.)

ps. Tonight, I'm taping a video for a job application and I'm curious to see what hilarious and awkward moments I unintentionally create. Thank goodness for a friend with skillz who will edit them out.

May 28, 2012

My Second Long Weekend

This weekend was full of food and people and food and sun and food and celebration and, did I mention, food?

I hardly had time to be un-full, and certainly never got all the way to hungry between meals. Thankfully I came back to a nearly empty fridge, so today will be easy on my tummy. It needs to recalibrate.

Despite its prevalence, this weekend was not about food. It was about laughter and joy and had a bonus topping of sunshine. Lots and lots of sunshine. A sunny day in Vancouver is one of the most happy-making experiences. Add on coffee and lunch and parties with delightful friends, and it is no exaggeration to say that I couldn’t stop smiling all weekend long.

Some other notes and thoughts:

1. Lynsey found us the perfect place to stay in Vancouver: Point Grey Guest House. Book a room that is at the back of the house, off 10th Ave. Breakfasts were a legitimate highlight, with fresh fruit, yogourt, homemade baked goods and blackberry jam from berries picked across the street! Delightful hosts. Same price as a hotel, ten times homier.

2. Turns out I really love wearing dresses. I think this could become the Summer of The Dress. This is one of my new goals.

3. Someone asked me my favourite colour and I said, “Periwinkle or teal.” He said, “Those are really girly colours.” And I said, “Yep. I’m a girl.” I don’t know if those are actually my favourite colours, but I do like them a lot. And I like the words periwinkle and teal. I think my actual favourite colour is cream or some off-white variant. How boring is THAT.

4. I could spend hours lying in the grass with Kirsten, eating blueberries and feeling at rest.

5. I don’t like carob, and that’s why I need to trust my gut, even when I fear being high-maintenance. This small moment of epiphany is part of a larger life “turning-point,” as Kirsten identified it.

6. Some friendships are incredibly easy to fall back into. Especially when you are in touch through the phone. Phone calls with faraway friends are a beautiful thing. Eating a meal with those same friends is even better. And if the view is of the (strange and wonderful people at a) beach, or you're role-playing a 1920's murder mystery? Icing on top.

7. I know many great guys in Vancouver. Why did so little dating happen in my life when I lived there?? And why do I know so few quality men in Toronto? (If you’re a Toronto guy and you’re reading this, you’re quality. 95% guaranteed.)

8. Sometimes I like being in charge of parties, and sometimes it is a little stressful. But usually, everything works out just fine, and the little hiccups are hidden by the great fun people have.

9. Dan and Christina are finally married. “FINALLY” seemed to be the theme of the day. I love attending a wedding where the guests are fully and enthusiastically on board with the newlyweds. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a kiss get a partial standing ovation before.

10. I loved everything. Like I said, couldn’t stop smiling.

May 24, 2012

A Rare Post About Dating & Love

I hardly blog about relationships and dating and love.

 Three reasons for that:
 a. I have many opinions and much speculation but few (if any) concrete answers,
 b. I place a high value on privacy, both mine and the guys I date, and
 c. I do NOT want to become THAT girl who only ever talks about her relationships (or lack thereof).

These (almost) always outweigh my desires to share ridiculous stories, vent over perceived wrongs or philosophize ad nauseum about things out of my control.

And now I will say this: I have decided that I understand not even a third of what I once thought I knew about dating and romance. BUT I feel three times more sure of who I am, and increasingly clear on what things matter to me and what things are negotiable. I sometimes feel cynical and am often confused, but underneath, there is hope.**

Also, I will admit that I think often about these things. I have many, many thoughts. Here are three particular snippets that my mind continues to come back to:

 In January, I posted this entry that mentions a re-thinking of my dating/relationships assumptions (with further thoughts in the comments). I have definitely moved out of the motivation & framework I held as a student/fresh graduate. But I haven’t yet cohesively articulated where I find myself now. Maybe I will pull these rolling thoughts together and put them on paper sometime soon.

 Several few weeks back, my friend Kat posted this quote on her blog:
 "We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It's easy. [...] They all count. But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like. These are the most important people in your life, and you'll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years. But there's still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it always happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of those lovable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. You will remember having conversations with this person that never actually happened. You will recall sexual trysts with this person that never technically occurred. This is because the individual who embodies your personal definition of love does not really exist. The person is real, and the feelings are real-but you create the context. And context is everything. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they're often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else." - Chuck Klosterman 

I like to pretend that the past doesn’t impact my present, and that I’m impervious to influence from sources I don’t want to influence me. Buuuuuuuuuut, that’s a big fat lie. Not sure I agree 100% with Chuck on this, but I think he raises some things to consider regarding expectations, reality, and owning our histories. 

 Recently, in a conversation about #1, a friend commented, “I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how love is irrevocably intertwined with trust and really the person you end up loving with your whole heart is the person you trust to take on your baggage and vice versa.”

Yes! Someone who wants me to help carry their baggage and is offering to take part of my load. That’s a beautiful thought, isn’t it?

**I don’t just mean hope that I will get married someday. That’s not a given, and even if it does happen, it doesn’t guarantee a “happily ever after.” I mean hope that my life will be full and rich and I will continue to take risks and care for people with my whole heart and be a blessing and not a curse to their hearts.

May 23, 2012

Mid-Week Music

Grouplove - Love Will Save Your Soul

First Aid Kit's "Tiny Desk Concert"

May 22, 2012

3 Kinds of Friends

My most recent theory: there are basically three bases (basises? basees?) for friendships:

1. shared history.
2. shared worldview.
3. shared life-stage/interests.

Sometimes you have all three in common with a person, sometimes you have a combination, and sometimes you just have one.

Also, you might have all three in common with someone, and two years later, you've only got the shared history left.  But in a few more years, maybe you'll be back to sharing other things too.

Friendships look different depending on which platform(s) you're building off of, and that's ok. So long as you don't expect your new-concert-best-friend to understand the total complexities of why you feel a little bit panicky in the post-concert exodus, or think that your friend-forever-and-new-mom will be up for a last minute weekend road-trip. Different relationships, different strengths.

What do you think? Is this accurate or way off base? How do you recognize & respond to these sometimes subtle shifts in your friendships?

May 21, 2012


Dandelions CP
Originally uploaded by bethaf.
Sometimes dandelions are lovely and fun.

I haven't taken photos for a long time, and it was fun to capture the hilarity and love of my brother and sister-in-law and their kidlets.

May 17, 2012

Women in Media: 3 Questions & A Quote

Last night I saw The Avengers. This is not a review, although I enjoyed it and think it was the first superhero movie I have seen in theatre. Superhero movies are a genre that is distinctly lacking in my life.

Anyway. Prior to the viewing, I was chatting with two lovely ladies who had already seen the flick, and of course, we discussed the women on the big screen (Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cobie Smulders). Karen brought up a very interesting series of questions that she asks about movies and their portrayal of female characters. They are:

  1. Is there more than one female character?
  2. Do the female characters talk to each other?
  3. Do they discuss anything other than other male characters?

Huh. Insightful questions.

Reminds me of a conversation with Wendy back when I watched my first Bond movie, and I wondered if we really have come all that far in the world of feminism and portrayal of women in film.

The answer, I believe, is yes and no. I know there are a lot of complex factors (women want to see romance played out on the big screen, etc etc), but I always appreciate the chance to think critically about the media I feed myself.

Related: this blog post from author Rachel Held Evans, someone I've recently discovered and come to admire.

But the way I see it, TIME gave us a something of a gift. By stripping that cover of all pretense, it revealed in plain language the lie behind so much of the media’s messages for women: If you aren’t a sexy, put-together, powerful, super-mom, who breastfeeds her kids until they’re four while baking apple pies, making crayon art, and investing in a successful career,  then you’re a failure. You will always fall short. You will never be enough. Such an idea is so absurd, it should elicit laughter, not groans.  It’s like millionized lashes and fortified fruit science—too stupid to take seriously!
And yet a small part of us believes it.

For the record, the female characters do not talk to each other in Avengers. And each one exists primarily in relation to a more/equally dominant male character.

May 16, 2012

Hey Ocean!

Last night, I was all impromptu and fun and went to a mid-week "secret" concert. It was a mixed bag of a night. Here are my thoughts:

  • Mid-week concerts should start before 10pm. Who stays out past midnight on a Tuesday!?!?
  • That opening band was awful. I rarely say things so bluntly, but I did not enjoy them at all. I don't know their name, and I'm not looking it up, because I don't want to bash them. I'm sure some people like them (obviously), but I did not. At. All. 
  • Concerts with Karen are fun. Anything with Karen is fun. There will be sarcasm and wit and random made-up scenarios. Last night, she began the adventures of "Gay Thomas and Totally-Straight Chad." I have a feeling I will meet them again. 
  • Selina is a Hottie-McTottie.
  • I am terrible at meeting new people. I run out of questions far too quickly to establish any sort of meaningful connection. 
  • Hipsters. So many. So lovely. So...something. 
  • People-watching is my favourite past-time. Particularly watching boys and girls interact and trying to guess who has a crush on whom. 
  • I like it when venues have seating. Couches = awesome. Relax and sprawl during crappy opening bands, sit back and observe between sets, stand up and look over the crowd during the actual show.
  • I need to be careful about my people-watching comments. I may be talking about people I will later meet. 
  • Hey Ocean! is a fantastic band. I like their sound and their groove and their skills. What rock/pop band utilizes a FLUTE!? Or has six people playing percussion at once, three on the same drum kit!? I know, right. 
  • It was the drummer's first show with this band - you would not have known this. 
  • My favourite songs are "Make a New Dance Up," "Big Blue Wave," and "Liar." 
  • So. Tired. 
(just TRY not to dance to this tune!)

(I miss Vancouver. T - 8 days til my visit!!)

May 13, 2012

I Wish I'd Written These Words

The enthusiasms of my conversion have worn off. For whole stretches since the dream, since the baptism, my belief has faltered, my sense of God's closeness has grown strained, my efforts at living in accord with what I take to be the call of the gospel have come undone.

And yet in those same moments of strained belief, of not knowing where or if God is, it has also seemed that the Christian story keeps explaining who and where I am, better than any other story I know. On the days when I think I have a fighting chance at redemption, at change, I understand it to be these words and these rituals and these people who will change me. Some days I am not sure if my faith is riddled with doubt or whether, graciously, my doubt is riddled with faith. And yet I continue to live in a world the way as a religious person lives in the world; I keep living in a world that I know to be enchanted, and not left alone. I doubt; I am uncertain; I am restless, prone to wander. And yet glimmers of holy keep interrupting my gaze.
and then later -
On any given morning, I might not be able to list for you the facts I know about God. But I can tell you what I wish to commit myself to, what I want for the foundation of my life, how I want to see. When I stand with the faithful at [my church] and declare that we believe in one God... I am saying, Let this be my scaffolding. Let this be the place I work, struggle, play, rest. I commit myself to this.

from Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner

May 11, 2012

Bring It On: The Musical

48 hours ago, I didn't even know there was such a thing. Then I found was offered tickets, and I went, and I loved it.

Loved it.

Plot-wise, it was not at all the same as the movie. Similar framework (preppy cheer squad & an inner-city school with a dance crew), and similar level of intensity (none: a rom-com for sure), but otherwise, a completely new storyline.

Music/style-wise, the hip-hop influences and cultural references were current and grrrrrrrrreat. Nadine commented that in ten years, it will either feel really dated or a perfect slice-of-life...true. It is very much set in the pre-teen years of this century.

And dance-wise. Ho-ly cowwwww. The cheer moves knocked my socks off. INSANITY. Many of the ensemble were competitive cheerleaders, and I can't imagine how much training it takes to do what they did. On multiple occasions, I said to Nadine, "WHAT? HOW? If this were a DVD, I would need to rewind and re-watch that."

Here's a little montage:

May 7, 2012

There Was No Time to Run

A recap of my oh-so-full and oh-so-delightful weekend:

Meet with my spiritual director (a new and good addition to my life)
Nadine & Matt pick up their stuff. Great to see them. Sad that there is officially nothing "Nadine" left in my home.
Great convo with Karen about life and Jesus and growing up.
Dancing - actually had fun!
Home to bed at 2am.

Up at 6:30 to shower & catch the 8:30 bus to Guelph.
Take my parents' car, go visit Mere & Russ and meet their new baby! BABY WYATT IS SO CUTE.
Tea with a former co-worker/very-wise-woman.
Birthday party for my niece. Love this family of mine.
Late night drinks & life-conversation with Jesskah.
Bed at 1:30.

Church with friends.
Auction viewing with Mom.
Ice cream with super-preggo-Amber.
Visit with sister, dinner with parents (Moroccan inpired!).
Bus home.
Throat is ticklish.
Hangout with Karen & Jill & Selina.
Bed at 11pm.

Yesterday was my first 2012 sunburn. Apparently, sitting in the sun for 45 minutes while eating ice cream, then a 30 minute walk home was too much for the one shoulder that took all the sunshine. Oops.

This morning my throat is very very sore. I drank at least 5 cups of hot water before lunch. And tried speaking a minimal amount. Hopefully this will help.

I have a massage booked after work. The combination of pre-illness and sunburn is unfortunate.

May 4, 2012

Oh, Also.

I booked a ticket to Uganda for the end of next month. I am going to visit my delightful friend Vanessa and her family. And I am going to have an adventure.

That is all.

Songs of the Week

These are the tunes rolling through my head today:

Mika - Blue Eyes

Motopony - God Damn Girl

Fun. - Some Nights

First Aid Kit - King of the World

May 3, 2012

I Wish That I Could Draw

This art project from Dallas Clayton has been rolling around in my head for the past week... what would you draw?

Draw a picture
of the thing you love the most
and beneath it write a small description
of how and why.

Take that picture and make fifty copies
the size of business cards,
cut them out and put them in your wallet.

Each time you meet someone,
instead of giving them your phone number
give them this card.

Once the first fifty are gone,
make fifty more.
Change the picture and the description
as often as needed.
Repeat until you’ve met everyone on earth.

...and I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival of my Sketchbook Project book. I wonder how I will fill it up. A top contender is some sort of daily list, like I used to blog.

May 1, 2012

Update: Slacktivist to Abolitionist

Remember the time I emailed my MP about human trafficking and the sex trade here in Canada? (Here's why I did it.)

Well. Last Thursday, I got an email from her assistant; would I be available for a phone call with Dr. Bennett tomorrow at 10:30am? No…but after 12:30? 1:40 it is.

A personal phone call. From my MP. I was a bit nervous, let me tell you. I am not politically savvy. I am not well-informed. And people in positions of authority intimidate me.

Then I realized that BillC-310, the specific bill I’d mentioned in my email, was being debated at 1:30pm that Friday. Wait a second! I thought, If she’s talking with me, she can’t be at the debate! That seems counter-productive…

And then she called. And I was nervous. And it was fine.

Here are the take-aways from our phone call:

  1. Ending human trafficking should be a non-partisan issue.
  2. Human-trafficking & the victimization of women and children through the sex trade is a multi-faceted, complex issue.
  3. The solutions to these problems lay in the intersection of legislation, enforcement, and awareness-building. I need to be pro-actively considering my responsibilities as an awareness-builder, even as I call on my legislators to do their part.
  4. My MP is listening and encouraging community engagement and involvement on the issues that matter.

I will admit, I hold onto a level of uncertainty about how much impact my one voice can have. But I do feel that I’ve established an initial connection with my MP, and that Dr. Bennett is, at the very least, amenable to hearing more from me and open to being involved in a round-table event in our community. I also feel that she was gracious with my lack of political savvy (I’m not sure whether I am less-informed than the average Canadian or whether an MP, after years of public service, simply speaks a language I am not remotely fluent in).

As the Critic for Aboriginal Affairs, Dr. Bennett has some keen concerns about trafficking and victimization of women within our own borders, and I was reminded that we (as a nation) have failed aboriginal peoples in so many ways… this is a related and tragic vein of thought that opens up an entirely separate, complex and massive area in which I would like to see growth and change…

It turns out she was in the House while calling me (how does that work??); shortly after we spoke, the House passed Bill C-310 and it’s on to the Senate. And the federal government is appealing the Ontario ruling regarding legalizing prostitution, so things are happening.

Problem-solving on a national level is never simple and threatens to overwhelm me today. But I can do a small part, and if all of us do just that much, I believe it would add up to significant change, increased safety for vulnerable people, and perhaps even get us closer to justice.