May 9, 2013

Moving Tips

budget-truck-moving-tip

I have pretty much become a pro at moving now. I hope to be in our current place for awhile, but I know another move is likely in our future. Hopefully several years from now.

Here are some tips for if you’re moving! I’ve learned things that are important for if you are moving now, have an impending move in the near future, or are pregnant.

If you’re moving NOW:

1) Label ALL THE THINGS

Seriously, moves are chaos. Even if you are moving across the street, at some point shit is just going to get thrown together in panic. The better you organize what goes into boxes and make it easy to find, the smoother things will go.

Label your boxes in detail. Include all the items in each box. Include where it came from if it is something you don’t use often. Be Martha Stewart and tape colour-coded construction paper to boxes based on room or category (however works best for your space). Have a separate colour for those things you will want to unpack immediately. Tape the code to as many visible places in your new space as possible for people lugging boxes.

2) Pack in the opposite order you think you should pack in.

The last 10% of your shit will take the same amount of time, if not longer, than the first 90% of your shit. Trust me, it is always this way. Everyone things they are in great shape because their kitchen and books are neatly packed and all that is left is their wall decor, their sports closet, and their clothes and shoes. You know, all the shit that doesn’t fit into neat, orderly little boxes.

If you do this, your brain will be so fried by the end of the move you will curl up in a little ball, cry, and then end up throwing this stuff in garbage bags that will explode all over your moving vehicle. Then you will cry when you have to unload. I speak from personal experience.

Pack your clothes, coats, and shoes first. Keep out only what you need for a few weeks, and keep it in a separate back pack or duffel bag. Pretend you’re going on a vacation.  Pack your other clothes in tubs you can somewhat access, and group them by things you definitely won’t need soon (i.e. snowsuits in the middle of summer) and things you may need for unexpected things (i.e. a dress for an unexpected semi-formal event).

Closets and cupboards should be packed early because they hold the most shit. You will find boxes and boxes of shit you forgot you had at the back and top of your front closet. Properly disposing of it takes as much forethought as packing it. The kitchen and bookshelves are the most straightforward thing to pack. You also need a lot of it until right before you move. Save it till last because you can just wrap and zone out.

3) Pack small, pack light.

Remember, you will be lugging tons of these things around in a short period of time. Would you rather lift 1000 boxes of tissue paper or 100 boxes of encyclopedias? I know my answer. You will inevitably have some things that are light and some things that are heavy; mix them if possible.

Liquor store boxes are a good size for heavier things. Large plastic tubs should be reserved for light things like clothes, shoes, bathroom toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. When packing books, pack the box halfway then fill with pillows, linens, writing supplies, or other light items.

If you’re moving SOON:

1) Cleanse

Lose all the shit you don’t need. Be brutal. Clothes you don’t like anymore, hobbies you no longer practice, cords and old cell phones take up boxes you are going to open and go “WHY?!” later on. You want to open your boxes later and remember why you love all the shit you’ve collected. Get rid of it if you don’t love it or desperately need it.

2) Get your shit together

The best thing I did at my last place was only half-unpack my stuff. Anything that was in a permanent box, like a plastic tub or a decorative box, and was grouped well just got thrown on a shelf. When it came time to pack, It just needed a few more things to fill it up, a lid, and to be taped up and labeled. Easy peasy. Then, when you get to your new place, you can just open those boxes, remove the few things that need to come out, and put the box in its new location. Done, unpacked.

If you have time between now and your move to get things into bins, boxes, and baskets, DO IT. Not only is stuff easier to find, it is easier to pack. Cabinets under sinks, food stuffs, clothing accessories, and hobby supplies are big targets for this.

3) Make friends with landscapers, construction workers, bodybuilders, etc.

I wish I was kidding. Friends with upper body strength and stamina are the best when you move. We had to do an emergency move once out of a 4th floor walk-up (thanks fire!). Our friend that landscapes and rock climbs was INVALUABLE. Bribe these people to be your friends with beer and witty conversation skills.

If you’re moving PREGNANT

1) Sit DOWN

Seriously. Now’s the time to call in those bodybuilder/construction worker friends and let them do the work. Sit in a chair and point where you want things. Get yourself a director’s chair if it helps set the mood.

Unless you are having one of those earth-mother-birth-goddess perfect pregnancies with glowing skin and boundless energy, you will need to take eating, drinking, and napping breaks, even if you are just sitting and pointing. Build this time into things. Remember: you are living with a parasite that is leeching energy, fluid, and calories from your system. No one would expect someone with an intestinal fluke to keep up with a healthy person. Don’t expect to operate at normal capacity.

2) If you can’t sit down, rent a dolly

Sometimes you don’t have friends to call in. Sometimes you just gotta do.

Moving lists always say “hire a moving company” or “rent a truck”. Kudos if you have that extra few grand kicking around. It is a worthy thing to spend your money on. However, moving while pregnant usually means you have a big expense or two already on the horizon. The cheapest favour you can do yourself is to rent a dolly or hand truck. This may seem like a luxury or a frivolous rental. THIS IS NOT FRIVOLOUS. Get one of those hand trucks that you can load as much onto as possible and push.

If you do have a few hundred dollars kicking around, Frog Boxes are a good option. You pack them, and someone else does the heavy lifting. If you can’t call in friends, these are economical friends to purchase.

3) Case the joint

If possible, know ahead of time roughly where things will go in your new place. Add notes to closets for people moving things. Pregnancy brain is real, and you will get flustered and overwhelmed with the amount of stuff. Designate at least one room or corner as the “I Don’t Give A Fuck” space, where stuff can go for you to sort through later.

Case your new neighbourhood as well. Know where you can get food and drinks easily (this includes liquor for your helpers). Find one or two places near by that you can order somewhat healthy food from. I’ve been fine with just pizza and fast food during other moves. This one, with the heart burn and the carb-fatigue, I wanted light, healthy meals and felt like shit eating otherwise.

Know where your local hardware store, dollar store, Costco, etc are if you will need to go get specific things like hooks, nails, TP, soap, or other odds and ends. If you are moving far away, know where you local hospital/medical care facility is. God forbid you should need it, but if you plan for it, it won’t happen.

April 23, 2013

Announcement and Changes

There are some big changes coming around here – mainly prompted by some pretty ginormous life changes!

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Yep, Hubby and I are expecting a baby in September! We are very excited for this new adventure. The Dahg will be a great big brother to his future sibling.

We have also decided to move back into Vancouver. New West is a lovely suburb, but suburban life is not for us. The commute to work is killing us, as is the distance from our friends. We will be moving to Commercial Drive – a slightly different part of our old East Van Hood. It is very family friendly, and we have several friends within walking distance.

This means a few things for the blog. First, my morning sickness explains the lack of cooking posts from the last few months! Second, we’ll have some home decorating projects to share. Third, and most importantly, you will probably see some baby stuff pop up around here.

That is all for now – I hope you are as excited as I am for the upcoming changes!

December 18, 2012

Snow!

First snow of the year in the Lower Mainland. The Hubby woke me up with the news, and I knew instantly I would have to take advantage of it. The Dahg and I walked him to the Skytrain on his way to work this morning. Then we stopped at Starbucks for an eggnog latte on our way to the Hume Park off-leash area. He was a very happy dog in the snow!

happy dahg 12-18-12

Nothing makes me happy the way snow does. It is one of the major things I will miss about Montreal. I was so stoked to put on all my snow gear this morning. Here are some of my favourite snow pictures from last year to commemorate!

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December 11, 2012

Almond Sugar Cookies: a pictoral

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I am a junkie for almond flavouring. When I went to Starbucks as a kid (I’m from Seattle. We went to coffee shops as children in the 80s/90s, okay), my mom would order a latte, and I would order a steamed milk with almond flavouring. The almond flavouring went out of vogue a number of years ago and not all coffee shops have it anymore. Another childhood favouite was poppy seed muffins, and yes, I mean the giant ones you buy in bulk at Costco. I hold no shame in saying those sticky, oily things are freaking DE-LICIOUS. Why? Because they use almond extract instead of lemon. I don’t think I can rant long enough about the UNHOLINESS that is LEMON poppyseed. They almost exclusively sell lemon poppyseed muffins now, and I just can’t with them. Gluten-free poppyseed muffins are a project for another day though. Today, because it’s Christmas time, it’s all about cookies.

My mother baked the best sugar cookies when I was a kid. They always had this distinct flavour that was different than anyone else’s sugar cookies. When I was learning the artistry of cookie-baking, I tried countless recipes trying to get the right taste. I finally figured it out: the key ingredient is almond extract. Most sugar cookies call for vanilla extract. Almond, though, is so much better. It’s warmer, cozier, richer.

I leave you with a simple recipe for almond poppy seed muffins. Don’t let the tiny half-teaspoon of almond extract fool you. With the addition of almond flour, these pack a cozy punch. Add too much more, and they unfortunately suffer from the twinge of bitterness that comes with too much extract. Moderation is key to almond flavouring.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
October 4, 2012

Whiskey Sour Cupcakes

I have found my passion for baking again. Now that I’m starting to get a handle on gluten-free flours, I am really excited to launch some new baking projects with flavours one typically doesn’t find in their desserts.

For celiacs, there is some debate on how safe whiskey is. It has to do with how much of the starch is converted to alcohol, and if it meets the 20 ppm standard for foods considered to be safe. I tolerate it just fine, unless I’m having a particularly celebratory night, in which case how I feel after could be equally attributed to a hangover!

Anyways, back to baking. One of my favourite fancy cocktails is the whiskey sour. Often times bars don’t have a great selection of sipping whiskeys, so a whiskey sour is a good mixed drink if the selection isn’t very tempting. I can also attribute my love of whiskey to gradual introduction by a slow combination of the whiskey sour and occasional sips of the Hubby’s expensive, peaty whiskeys.

I thought the combination of lime citrus and earthy whiskey would lend itself well to a cupcake. When combined in one bite, the spice of the cupcake and the tang of the frosting are a delicious pairing. The combination of flours used results in a moist, bubbly mixture that I was surprised to find in a gluten free combination. The cake texture and flavour had rave reviews from all tasters!

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup tapioca or potato starch

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp xantham gum

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup applesauce

1 1/2 milk

1/2 cup whiskey

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

nutmeg and cinnamon to taste

For frosting:

I used a basic buttercream recipe such as this one. Replace the traditional vanilla with either 2 tsp lime extract or the juice of 2 limes.

Instructions:

Let all ingredients sit out until room temperature. This is especially important for the eggs. Room temperature ingredients rise more quickly when introduced to heat. Since it is hard enough for non-gluten batters to rise, this step is important to allow for as much rising as possible!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients, minus the sugar in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter, eggs, and sugar together until thoroughly mixed and light at fluffy. Add the dry ingredients gradually, and then add the rest of the wet ingredients. Spoon into a muffin tin with liners, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.

For frosting, cream the butter and sugar, and then gradually add milk and lime until the frosting reaches desired consistency and flavour. This will be a bit of a trick, as you don’t want the frosting too watery or too sweet. I found it easier not to chill the frosting, but as you can see, my frosting technique leaves something to be desired! Garnish with some lime zest or fun sprinkles.

October 2, 2012

Cabin Weekend

Cabin Weekend

Jigsaw chunky sweater
$155 - jigsaw-online.com

Angie tribal top
swell.com

BDG button down shirt
urbanoutfitters.com

Theyskens’ theory wide leg jeans
$385 - farfetch.com

Current/Elliott boyfriend jeans
$225 - farfetch.com

Helmut Lang elastic waist pants
$200 - flannelsfashion.com

Going to the family cabin for Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend! I am so excited. Thanksgiving and good family times are all well and good, but what I’m most excited about is crisp beautiful fall weather! It has been getting colder in our temperate region, so I’m hopeful that the weather in the Cariboo will be crisp and bright with everything tinted with gold and mustard and bronze.  The above was me playing around on Polyvore, working out what I’m going to pack for a cozy weekend of sitting by the fire, chopping lots of wood, and cooking up a feast for the holiday. This weekend can’t get here fast enough!
September 5, 2012

5 Things For: Organization

Programming note: I’m introducing a new regular feature I’m calling “5 Things For”. It will be products and links that are unified by one theme. I’ve been inspired lately to organize my new home, and here are some things I have found helpful!

1. The All Out Of Pad by Knock Knock Stuff. It makes your grocery list for you! Love it!

2. Boogie Board Rip by ThinkGeek. An LCD writing tablet that clips to your fridge. I have the original Boogie Board, but this one has a much-needed “save” feature.

3. OXO POP Containers. These are perfect for storing all my various foodstuffs, especially my flours. It also works well for rice, coffee, and dried pasta.

4. Pot Lid Organizer from Fresh Finds. Pot lids are the bane of my kitchen organizing existence. This seems like a pretty good solution.

5. Knodd Bin from Ikea. I plan on getting one of these to serve as a laundry bin for cleaning rags and dishtowels, to keep them separate from our clothing. They could also be used for wastebaskets, umbrellas, or cleaning supplies. I love the yellow and aqua colors!

September 3, 2012

Squamish

When we left for Montreal, one of the things I was most upset about leaving behind were our frequent summer trips to Squamish. My first time climbing outdoors was with my husband when we first began dating. Over the years we have introduced many friends to it. We are not serious climbers by any means. Many of the community’s more fervent members would look on us with scorn for our late-morning start times, our lax pace on the rock, and, most of all, our ritual pre-climb meet-up place: Taco Bell (the Taco Bell in Squamish recently closed, and is not GF-friendly, so our days there are over, but recounted fondly!). Our motivation when climbing, however, is to have fun being active and to always be safe. We aren’t out to break records, just to have a good and relaxing time.

The drive from Vancouver to Squamish is among my favourite of all the drives I’ve ever done. The highway runs right along the coast, where the mounain tumble sharply into Howe Sound. In late evening, the sun pokes out in gods-rays behind peaks in the middle of the ocean. The highway winds in tight S curves, and it is a delight to fly down when the roads are clear. There are many lovely look out points to stop along to snap pictures, but few gas stations.

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The Chief, post-hike, on a rainy and fogged-in day.

 

You know you’ve arrived in Squamish when you barrel around a corner and catch sight of the Chief: a giant monolith of granite lumped on the east side of the highway. The Chief is the second largest rock of its kind in North America. The hike to the top is a definite “bucket list” item if you are looking for a challenge. The ascent is pretty much like doing 2 hours of stairs (sometimes crossing over and through a creek), except for the last 15 minutes which is like doing 15 minutes of rope laddering. We hiked it in the pouring rain, and I do not recommend it – dangerously slippery. The feeling at the top is pretty astounding. And then you must down-climb that rope ladder descend those stairs, and my god 2 hours of plunking down stairs does a number on your knees and hips! There’s talk of putting a tourist gondola up the back of the Chief to attract more tourists. I was firmly opposed until I realized I could hike up and take the gondola down. Then it became a touch more palatable to me!

If you aren’t up for such an intense ascent, Alice Lake is a good spot for a leisurely hike. The Four Lakes Loop starts off steep, but flattens quickly and is quite pleasant. If you fancy a bike ride, Government Road from Eagle’s Run to Bailey Street to Cleveland Avenue is a nice route along the Squamish River. The best view of the valley, however, is a short stroll into Smoke Bluffs Recreation Area. Take the trail in a ways and you’ll see a neighbourhood of homes. The view from the west side of Cliffside Lane, just up into the resident’s front yards, is sweeping – the Chief is unobstructed, as are views of the Coast Mountains, with peaks directly west and north as they turn into Whistler, Pemberton, and beyond. Be jealous of all the homeowners whose properties scatter along the edge of Burger and Fries, the beginners climbing wall just below.

Howe Sound Brewery Inn has a good rates for places to stay, and a good restaurant if you don’t have food allergies. Their beer is divine. If you have food allergies, Onatah Coffee is a good spot for a morning treat or nut bar. For a romantic but still reasonably priced dinner, hit up The Nest – their GF pizza crust is fantastic, and I have rarely had such helpful and friendly service. They also have GF pasta available!

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Delicious, gourmet gluten-free pizza. There are some fantastic topping combinations!

 

Squamish is a unique place, full of friendly hippies and outdoor enthusiasts, with some of the most spectacular views in all of Canada. Access to it is one of the many reasons I am thrilled to live here!

September 3, 2012

And We’re Back!

Hi everyone! Summer is coming to a close, the sun on the last long weekend is setting, and I finally have my life in order enough to return to blogging. I hope you enjoy some of the posts I have coming up for you! I’ve refocused my direction a touch since moving back to Vancouver. Returning to the West Coast has really made me appreciate the natural beauty out here. I am keen to share some great day and weekend trips, focusing on active travel. I’m also really inspired by my new home, and I will be sharing some of my adventures in organizing and decorating. Finally, I wouldn’t be happy if I couldn’t share my culinary adventures with you all. I have started taking my gluten free baking to a new level, and I am learning more about healthy, seasonal cooking. I cannot wait to share some great recipes!

May 30, 2012

Uptown Live

This weekend was Uptown Live, a music and street festival in the 6th and 6th are of New West. We were really excited to go because it was the first community event going on in our new home since we decided to move there. There were some good local bands, the weather promised to be good, and the 6th and 6th ‘hood is really nice for restaurants.

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It really was a lovely day, and overall a well-run festival. There was enough going on to keep the crowd moving and entertained – BMX bikers jumping off ramps, circus performers of various ages, and great people watching. We saw some excellent characters while sampling gelato from the Cone Zone. We saw a 3-legged mini poodle, a Muppet man, a hipster girl with a mustache on her shirt strategically drawn under her boobs so it kin of outlined them (tasteful!), and men in full Hawaiian regalia carrying a pig on a spit.

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But the more important reason for going – the bands! We were there in time to see three acts. The first was No Sinner, comprised of the lead singer from Black Mountain and the guitarist from Hot Hot Heat. I expected to like them, since [name] has a great voice. Unfortunately they were more a cover band that isn’t technically a cover band. By “cover” I mean “rip-off”. One song was a blatant Jerry Lee Lewis reimagining. Others felt like taking every 80s pop ballad, throwing the lyrics in a pot, and pulling out the most “epic” lines.

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Luckily, the Zolas saved the day and were adorable as usual. Its good music that makes anyone was to tap their toes. Cayne from We Are The City filled in on piano.

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We Are The City kept the momentum going. They were up to their usual rhythm changing tricks. For “In A Quiet World”, Andy got the crowd clapping on the right beat, which took some instruction because as usual their rhythms were switched up all over the place. The boys have a strange fan girl following, and it came up during the show when they were gifted painted portraits by a crowd member. Not gonna lie, it was a little awkward!

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Overall – I hope Uptown Live becomes an annual event. It might be nice to have it in one of New Wests awesome parks for more of a music festival feel rather than a street fair with bands. Though I am sure the businesses 6th and 6th were happy for the good turnout! My only major gripe was there appeared to be a few technical issues, as every band seemed to have a few glitches. But all in all, it felt like a great introduction to our new home, and hopefully a great new annual event!

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