Mid-Week Tangent: the great hot cross bun debate

I’m a little late to the party on this one given that Easter is over and bakeries are probably already clearing out space for the next holiday’s baked good of choice. Still, I noticed this year a lot of heated debate about the hot cross bun. Who knew that it was such a contentious topic?  Apparently hot cross buns are either dearly loved or bitterly loathed. Our national news publication even wrote a whole article about it (which, brief side note, come on CBC, you can do better with ‘news’).

When I pause to think about it, I suppose we have the candied fruit to blame. It seems to have a divisive power wherever it shows up (fruit cake, I’m looking at you).  Personally, I’m candied fruit agnostic. It shows up in a number of baked goods that I like and an equal number of baked goods that I do not like. Therefore, I can only assume that the candied fruit itself is not a problem for me.  However, I won’t take away the candied fruit haters’ opportunity to vehemently oppose that which they hate. Food aversions are real.

Where am I going with this? Today, I am entering myself into the hot cross bun debate as staunchly pro-hot cross bun. I am not here to convince the hot cross bun haters that they should hop on board the hot cross bun train. I support your need to hate them, even if your hatred has nothing to do with candied fruit. However, I also reserve the right to share my reasons for loving the hot cross bun, which are few and simple:

1. They are a sweet(ish) bread product eaten for breakfast. Any opportunity to eat sweets at breakfast is welcome in my books.

2. They are occasionally glazed. See above point.

3. My mother bakes them from scratch and they are not only infinitely more delicious than any store-bought hot cross bun I’ve ever had (even without glaze…which she inexplicably stopped making years ago…hmph), but also twice the size of a standard hot cross bun. Go big or go home, particularly with anything remotely sweet. If you don’t believe me, read my post on my beloved apple fritter.

4. You can add copious amounts of butter to them when toasted. Butter on hot toasted bread products is pretty much at the pinnacle of my personal food pyramid.

So there you have it, one more vote cast in the hot cross bun debate. You can agree or disagree, but my voice shall be heard! And now, yours can too! What do you say? Hot cross bun, yay or nay?

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Monday Musings: always turn the light on

Easter 2018 won’t go down in history as my first in Vernon or even as the year that, as a 38 year old no less, I insisted that my partner plan an Easter hunt for me because my parents (who usually stage me a hunt) declined our invitation to join us.  It won’t even be known as the year that my partner knocked the Easter hunt out of the park by leaving a trail of chocolate eggs from our bedroom door, all the way down the hallway, and down the stairs into our living room. It should be, but it is not.

Instead, Easter 2018 will go down in history as the year I broke my toe. Because I was too lazy to flip on a light switch.

I will  spare you a picture because no one needs to see pictures of feet on the internet and also, if I’m being honest, it’s not even the horribly bruised and impossibly crooked kind of broken toe. It’s just slightly swollen and with the faintest of purple hues developing around its tip. In other words, it’s not even an impressive broken toe.

Although, as my partner pointed out, it is sort of impressive that I managed to break the toe next to my pinky toe without at all harming the actual pinky toe. It’s somewhat implausible, and yet there it is. But that’s a bit of an aside, my point was that it’s really an unimpressive break. I can still walk* pretty much normally.  I don’t have to suffer the humiliation of some sort of weird air cast. I don’t even have to hide my foot in shame. Totally unimpressive.

Still, it is my broken toe and I’m presenting it to you as a cautionary tale. Next time you ask yourself “should I turn on the light before walking down the staircase?”, do not respond to yourself with a slightly offended “um, NO, I can walk down the stairs in the dark without hurting myself, thankyouverymuch.” You cannot. I cannot. I have the broken toe to prove it. Turn on the light. Just do it. If you turn on the light, you will not ram your foot into the corner of the staircase wall with roughly the same force as a professional football player winding up to kick a field goal.

So turn on the damn light. Save your toes. It is almost flip flop season, after all.

 

*I cannot, however, run, which, to once again be honest, I’m not at all upset about. 

Monday Musings: limitless energy

Have you ever been dead tired? Like the kind of tired where every muscle in your body is aching and you wondered how you would possibly stay awake to get done what you set out to get done? And then not only did you stay awake to get done what you set out to get done, but you also did more?  This has been my last four days, start to finish.

We moved this weekend, and I think we can all agree that moving is one of the more exhausting and stressful life experiences. This move has involved four days of wonderfully rich moments like the bank waiting until the last possible second to send info to our lawyers so that we could take possession of our home; movers showing up and delivering only 85% of our possessions (where the other 15% is remains a mystery); the basic joys of unpacking 50+ boxes, finding a home for everything, folding packing paper, and breaking down boxes; visiting household stores at least three times each because we kept forgetting things; and spending three hours assembling a new credenza, somehow without killing each other.

Yes, four days of that.

What’s my point? My point is that throughout this all we’ve been tired, so very tired. On many more than one occasion it’s been tempting to take a load off, maybe even take a mid-afternoon nap, run from our piles of disorganized crap and take refuge at the nearest watering hole where we might drown our collective frustrations and exhaustion in some fine Okanagan wine. But we haven’t. No matter how tired we’ve been, we’ve kept moving, kept doing, and kept getting more shit done.  Even when we think we have no energy left in us, we have proven that we actually do.  Because getting our home settled matters to us, and doing something that matters sparks a seemingly infinite pool of energy.

I think of all the times during a given work week that I’ve felt like I’m dragging my ass from task to task all day only to go home and find myself ‘too tired’ to do anything but lay on the couch like a slug. I’ve tended to genuinely think that my energy is spent.  After these last four days, I’ve been reminded that our energy is not so finite a resource as we sometimes think. When you feel tired, sluggish, incapable of carrying on, is it really because you’ve done too much, worked too hard, and spent all your available energy, or could it also be that what you’re doing doesn’t matter to you enough to keep you going?

Monday Musings: 4 weeks to go

Ever since we bought our place in Vernon, it’s seemed like something so incredibly distant.  We bought back in July knowing that our place wouldn’t be ready until January at the earliest.  That seemed a lifetime away. Even as we sold our old place and moved into a rental in October, January still seemed like a million years away. Then our possession date got pushed back to March and I really started to feel like we were never going to make our move. Long story long, it’s never felt like our move was coming any time soon.

Now we suddenly find ourselves just four weeks away from a scheduled possession date. That’s four weeks to get our place packed and reorganized, get everything organized to move into our new home and, most importantly, to say goodbye to the people and place that have been our network and home for the vast majority of our adult lives. As we start to make lists of things to do and people to see, and slot those people in to dates, it’s clear that there’s really not much time left at all.

I’m generally pretty pragmatic about such things in life. I’ve moved a lot, left people behind a lot, managed the logistics of big moves more times than I want to remember. There’s steps to be taken and things to be done.  In some ways it’s old hat to me, but what never gets familiar is that sinking feeling when you realize: right…things are actually going to change in a really big way. 

A move to a new city shakes up all the comfortable, routine patterns of your life. It’s little things, like your local grocery store, the place you go to get a bottle of wine when you realize you’re out of wine, where you find the best coffee, who makes the best donuts, or where you go when you want an ultra satisfying dinner out.  But it’s also the big things, like being able to call up a friend and see her at the drop of a hat, like realizing the Sunday family dinners (which, ironically, were mostly hosted on Saturdays) that you used to have monthly are at risk of never happening again or at very least will require some serious logistical masterminding, like realizing we’ll have no family closer than a four hour drive away from us, like absolutely everything being new and different, even if only a little bit.

Don’t mistake this as second-guessing our decision to move. I couldn’t be more excited to go. I’m excited for the potential positive impacts to our lifestyle and to our careers, and incredibly excited to be so dangerously close to all of the wine. But one can be excited for the future while still experiencing a feeling of heavy loss for all the good I’ll leave behind, of which there is a lot.  Amidst the excitement of leaving, and all the waiting and having it feel like it took forever to get to moving day, I carry a bit of that heaviness and grief with me every single day. And I know that feeling of loss will continue to grow over the coming weeks as I start to realize that every time I see friends or places I love, it’s one visit closer to not seeing them in person as often.

In some sense, it is beautiful, this conflict between excitement and sadness. It tells me that this place and its people matter to me and that I need to make sure that I stay connected even if at a distance. It tells me that, even though I am leaving, there is a lot of potential to expand the people and places I love once we (finally!) get to Vernon.

Monday Musings: Old Haunts

This weekend was my father’s birthday, so off we went to Cochrane to celebrate with him.  In efforts to help him ring in his 70th year in style, we took him out to the mountains, one of his most favourite places. I won’t lie, they’re also one of my favourite places.  Banff and its surrounding area has always held a special place in my heart, and it occurred to me this weekend that somehow I let myself go a year and a half without stepping foot within park boundaries. I didn’t know just how much I missed it, just how much a part of me it is, until I found myself there again this weekend, standing on the banks of the Bow River staring up at the mighty Mt. Rundle.

Without a doubt,  this is the longest I’ve gone without visiting Banff since I was a child. When I was a kid, we camped around Banff every single year.  It captured my heart so much so that I moved there as an adult. I spent almost four years in Banff, and they were truly some of my best years.  I had hiking at my doorstep. In fact, it’s the place responsible for my true love of trails and the birthplace of my trail running adventures. For the first time in my life, I was part of a small community, the kind  where you couldn’t go anywhere without running into someone you knew. I was part of a quirky, delightful, challenging and absolutely fascinating team within an organization that helped me carve out a path for myself that I never would have considered otherwise.  Many of those quirky and wonderful teammates became friends, friends I still see to this day, though not as often as I’d like. It was a life-altering experience in many ways.

So this weekend, as we visited Banff and surrounding areas I found myself lost in my old haunts: browsing through the Christmas store even though it was nowhere near Christmas, agonizing over what type of fudge to choose from the Fudgery, cutting down back alleys to avoid the hordes of tourists,  thinking of nights out at virtually every restaurant and bar in town, remembering the smell unique to the Rockies in winter (a mix of snow and trees), staring in awe at the grandeur of the scenery in all directions,  and reveling in the familiar motion of winter hiking and the feel of dry, rocky mountain snow (so much better than west coast snow, by the way) beneath my feet.

It was a feast for my soul in so many ways. It reminded me of times when I was at my most active, invigorated by fresh air and the constant presence of epic mountain scenery.  It felt like coming home again. I always hear that expression ‘you can’t go home again’ and, to be honest, I’ve never felt it to be true. Of course places change and evolve. Even in Banff, so many storefronts and restaurants and neighborhoods are different than they were when I lived there.  That’s not the point. Home is nothing more than a feeling.  Being able to step foot into a place and have it feel familiar, even when the sights and sounds around you are not exactly the same, to have it instantly transport you back to a wonderful time in your life, that is what home is.  And I can tell you that any time I find myself in and around Banff,whether in town on on the trails, I am home.

 

Mid-Week Tangent: Christmas at New Years

We’re a couple days past Christmas now, and perhaps the sparkle and magic of the holidays is starting to wear off. Perhaps this is making you sad.  Sure, New Years Eve is coming, but let’s face it, NYE is sort of a heinous excuse for a holiday. There’s all this pressure to have big plans which almost never turn out to actually be fun.  If this is the reality staring you in the face right now, I have an idea to share with you, a way that you can both avoid the horror of making ‘big plans’ for NYE and extend the Christmas magic a little bit longer. It is truly the greatest win-win and I promise you this is going to become the next big trend. Just remember you heard it here first.

What is Christmas at New Years? It’s only the best thing ever. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Its simplicity is what makes it so great. Here’s the deal: many of us have multiple family engagement over Christmas itself. Rather than offending anyone by declining their Christmas invites, why not propose two Christmases: one at Christmas and another at New Years? We did this for the first time last year when faced with the fact that we couldn’t see my parents and my boyfriends’ parents at Christmas because my parents live in a different city. What were we to do? Well, we spent Christmas in town with his family and then flew out to see my parents for Christmas at New Years. It was the best! We did all the same traditions all over again! Christmas felt never-ending!

Here are just a few of the perks of celebrating Christmas at New Years:

1. If you do have to fly anywhere, flights are ever-so-slightly cheaper over New Years than Christmas.

2. TWO sets of stockings on TWO different days! Technically, it’s not more presents, but it is spreading the presents out over more time, which gives the illusion of more presents.

3. The potential for TWO turkeys!

4. It’s an excuse to do even more holiday baking! You might say ‘but I’ve had my fill of holiday baking by the time Christmas is over!’  To you, I respond: there is no such thing as ‘having your fill’ of Christmas baking! More is always better.

5. No hurt feelings. If you make New Years into a true Christmas spectacle by replicating the experience of stockings hung by the chimney with care, etc. etc., you can celebrate the holidays without one set of parents or one part of the family being offended that you didn’t come for ‘real’ Christmas.

I promise you, you will not regret this choice! We loved last year’s experience so much that we are doing Christmas at New Years yet again this year. You’re welcome for this opportunity to a) get more out of Christmas and b) hop on the trend train before it becomes so ubiquitous that you start to find it obnoxious.

Monday Musings: Merry Christmas

It is Christmas Day, and whether you celebrate traditional Christmas or not, it is one of the few days of the year when most things close down, when there is quiet, and when there is opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Wherever you are and whatever your spiritual beliefs, I hope that you are finding love, kindness and happiness today.

And for those of you who, like me, love to celebrate Christmas with a fervour most common in five year olds, I wish you the merriest of merry Christmases!