An Affair with America….

im 15,

sitting in Mme Rikkart’s 2nd period French Class,

the Principal comes on the PA, and says that that something has happened in New York City, and that the news is not to be watched in classrooms

it was September 11th 2001

This was before iPads and smart phones and Twitter and Facebook. We knew what the teachers told us, and that was that something big had happened in New York and Washington and that we being  a Catholic High School we should pray.

I remember thinking that it couldn’t be as bad as they were making it out to be, it couldn’t. New York was a mecca for good, it was were movies were shot and tv shows I loved were set (this was the Will & Grace/ Friends era after all). Nothing could hurt New York

Then I came home, and turned on Much Music (the Canadian MTV before MTV Canada was a thing) and I will never forget George Strombolopolis’s face as he said something along the lines of: We know this is a big day, and we wont be hurt if you watch the news insead of us, so were going to play some music videos and try to keep you updated.

That day changed the world, it changed the lives of the family and friends of over almost 3,000 victims in a way that no-one can put into words. It changed how we travel, how we speak in airports, how people dress, how religious groups were treated, it changed the landscape of America; literally and emotionally.

It changed my life, that was the day that put my life on a track that I am still following today. I began a love affair with America.

As a Canadian I often get made fun of for my American love affair, but its as much a part of me as my love of lacrosse or music.

9/11 is the apex of why I studied US History and why I continue to read as much as I can about it and learn as much as I can.

I will watch any movie or TV show that is 9/11 centric because as tragic as that day was it also showed the good in people.  You saw people helping each other to ambulances, read stories about people like Lauren Manning who was engulfed by flames and suffered burns over 80% of her body and was saved by the kindness of a stranger. (Her book ‘Unmeasured Strength‘ is one of the best books I have ever read), saw movies like ‘World Trade Centre‘, hung on to every word of Denis Leary’s phenomenal show ‘Resuce Me’, sung along to Alan Jackson and Toby Keith’s patriotic anthems (Where Were You and The Angry American respectively),

I bought and read all the magazines I could get my hands on, I still have them tucked away in a box in my parents house.  God Bless them they save the paper from every September 11th  since for me.

9/11 changed the world, it changed me. It changed a lot of things we don’t even realize it changed and a lot of things that you cant avoid seeing as a change.  It opened up people and forced the world to see that there is evil yes, but there is good to.

So tonight I leave you with 2 things, the first is a quote from ‘World Trade Centre‘ and the second a clip from the first episode of ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart‘ since the attacks.

“9/11 showed us what human beings are capable of. The evil, yeah, sure. But it also brought out the goodness we forgot could exist. People taking care of each other for no other reason than it was the right thing to do. It’s important for us to talk about that good, to remember. ‘Cause I saw all of it that day.”

– John McLoughlin, Port Authority Police Department NYC 

and:

so take a minute today and tell the people you love that you love them, because alot of people didnt get that chance 12 years ago.

until next time

– be a river with me

Good Enough??

I work in the food and beverage industry, were the sad fact is the better looking you are, the more money you make.  Dean once told me “I only hire pretty girls that make me money” and in a burst of confidence I asked him if he would hire me, and he paused and said “yes, because you could make me money” and to this day i’m not sure how to take that.

As I’ve said before, I’m a plus sized woman, and being one in this industry makes it a little harder for me. So what I lack in “Babe-ness” i try to make up for in my personality, i can talk sports with the best of them, i’m a pop-culture genius and i make people laugh with my self deprecating humour. And you know what, i do pretty well.

Customers always laugh and like me but what they don’t know is that I self deprecate so people don’t laugh at me first, my unsung motto is “if i make fun of myself first it wont sting as much when other people do it” and it helps, it still stings when people are mean but less then it did before.

I constantly think that I’m not good enough. I know that I have the love of my family and friends and at the end of it all thats what matters. And people do tell me that I am good enough. But confidence is something thats an internal thing, i have to believe in myself and then I’ll start to believe people, but I still walk around everyday thinking that i’m not good enough.

Not good enough at my job, not good enough to have a man love me the way i think i deserve, not good enough for the people I love to come visit me from other parts of the world.

And quite frankly, that sucks.

I am working on being more confident, and being happy. And I’m doing better.

I dont know if I’ll ever have a super high confidence level but at least writing this is a step to being more honest with myself and start getting to a place where I do feel good enough.

until next time

– be a river with me

 

Sweet Potato Pie…BARWM Style

sweet pie

One of my favourite foods of all times is my Mom’s Sweet Potato Pie.

Growing up she would make this for Christmas and Thanksgiving and all the big holidays and it was a staple for taking to guests houses for dinner parties. Then as I grew up she would make it for me when I was having a rough week. And I loved it because my brothers and dad hated it so my mom and i would have it all to ourselves.

Her recipe is full of butter and brown sugar and maple syrup (the good stuff from the family farm, not the store-bought Aunt Jemima stuff) and it was AMAZING!  So I decided to make my own version, its not as good as my Mom’s, but nothing of hers I make is ever as good. So I made a different version, a BARWM/Weight Watchers one.

This recipe is: Gluten Free (if you use a gluten free bread) Lactose Free (because of the vegan margarine), Vegetarian, Low Calorie, Weight Watchers safe and most of all DELIGHTFUL!!  The whole pie is only 7 Weight Watchers Points!!

SWEET POTATO PIE BARWM Style 

1 large sweet potato (or 1 can of drained and rinsed)

1 medium sized bag of baby carrots

1/2 cup Spinach

1/2 cup Kale

2 tsp maragarine (I prefer the Vegan Becel) SEPARATED

2 slices Gluten Free bread (i didnt have any so I used Weight Watchers Brown)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees

Cook the carrots and sweet potatoes (In separate pots, the carrots will take longer to cook) until soft *if using canned potatoes, check the label, most of them don’t need to be cooked 

Add them together in the bigger of the 2 pots and mash. Take 2 tbsp out of the mix and set aside

Once all mashed, add the spinach, kale and cinnamon and mix well 

Pour into a LIGHTLY greased pan ( use a glass pie plate for best results) with 1 of the tsp of margarine and smooth out 

Toast the bread slices and crumble 

Mash the bread crumbs with the carrot and potato mash you set aside and the margarine, 

Sprinkle the bread crumb mash on top of the pie

When your ready to serve it, jus toss in the oven until the top is golden brown and serve it up!

This keeps for 2 days in the fridge, or a week in a freezer. It re-heats really well and is a great make a head meal. Just heat it up in the oven when your ready to serve it

This is a great recipe for people with dietary restrictions and its easy as all get out to make.

until next time

– be a river with me

Summer of Wine…an update

 

So here I am, sitting on my porch on a wonderful afternoon with a glass of wine in my hand.

I suddenly realize, that I have sadly left my Summer of Wine blog un-updated. I will also be ranking them from 1-5, 1 being I wont pay for it again, and 5 being so good I wouldn’t even share with my best of friends.

Reynella Shiraz 

Tried this with my good friend Payton. She was super keen to be a part of Summer of Wine. This was an amazing bottle that was easy to drink, we actually ordered a second bottle before we even finished the first. I really liked it for a few reasons: easy to drink, you have to decant it so you feel kinda fancy, and it works well with meaty dishes without over powering it. This one gets a 4, good to share, not good enough to keep all to myself

Ex Nihlo Merot 

In all honesty I had tried Ex Nihlo in the past, this was before my palate became accustomed to wine and all the amazing pretentiousness that comes along with a “Wine Palate” . This was another bottled shared with Payton, and we both enjoyed it. She devoured hers and I slowly sipped mine. I liked it but wasn’t in love with it. It was a little to harsh for me.  I give this a 3, I’d take it to someones house for a nice dinner party

Shooting Star Merlot

This was the last of 3 wines shared in the same meal as the Ex Nihlo and the Reynella. I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about it, maybe it has something to do with the 3 bottles before and the intermittent martinis, but I digress. This was a nice aperitif wine, it was strong without being bold, as odd as that sounds.  I also give this a 3.

Big Tease Raspberry

This was an odd one, Big Tease is made by ‘Birds and Bees’ which is Alberta’s only organic winery. I thought I was being all ‘urban hipster’ buying this wine, which just goes to show that trying to be “hipster” never works out. I shared this bottle with 2 of my male roommates (Jerome and Tim) who are both from Quebec, and Jerome is a chef whos opinion I trust. We all decided it was “A good patio wine, if its cold. Good for Sangria”. We had it room temp which played a factor once we read the back label (WHO READS THE BACK OF WINE LABELS!!??), in reading it we learnt that its meant to be drank chilled,  which would have made it way better. I give it a 3, could have been a 4 if we drank it the right way. 

Brights Spumante Bambino “Champagne”

I was given a glass of this by a wonderfully hilarious man at a wedding in the winter, and decided to try it again. I loved it!! Its a sweet sparkling wine from Canada and I LOVED IT!! I could (and might have if not for Jerome and Tim) drank the bottle all to myself.  This is a great summer night faux champagne (legally it cant be called a champagne because it wasn’t made in the Champagne Region of France). I am a woman who loves her sparkling wine (Prosecco makes my heart happy)… and as someone once said “In Victory you deserve Champagne. In Defeat you need it” .. this gets a 5.

Wyndamn Estates Chardonay

I am currently drinking a glass of this, and made some punch with it this afternoon, and I have to say I really enjoy it. I tossed a frozen strawberry in it and BAM! Summer cocktail. This is a nice sipping wine, Id happily drink it at dinner or dessert, or in the afternoon in the sunshine… oh wait, I’m already doing it. 4 out of 5.

until next time

– be a river with me

Summer of Wine.

The Summer of Wine has begun

The Summer of Wine has begun

Summer 2013 is going to be my summer of wine.

I made a resolution in January that I was going to try a new red wine every month, and so far I’m actually keeping it up. Actually I’m on track with all but one of my resolutions, which is for me a feat.

So the wine….

Today was a great day for wine, so I threw on some flip flops and headed to the store, where my instincts were screaming “VODKA!!! GET VODKA!!” but I needed a May wine. So instead of being classy and getting a wine based on the vintage and the winery, I chose the one with the coolest label.

So, now until October (cause here in Alberta thats when summer ends) I will blog about my wine adventures.

Up first:

The Inaugural bottle in Summer of Wine 2013

The Inaugural bottle in Summer of Wine 2013

Wine Men of Gotham 2011 Shiraz

As I said, I totally picked this because of the label. But I was not disappointed.

It was full bodied, it was sweet but not overly sweet. The fruit tones in it (blackberry mainly) was subtle but welcome. The first glass went down easy, and the second was a lovely sipper glass. Would pair excellently with a steak.

This is a wine I would happily keep around the house, its a good bottle and on the cheaper side of Australian wines (between 10 and 15 a bottle depending on where you are).

Gotham wines has a pretty cool story to, if you have a chance heres the link:

http://winemenofgotham.com.au/winemenofgotham

Check it out.

so thats my short but sweet review of Wine Men of Gotham 2011 Shiraz.

 

until next time

– be a river with me

The Kennedys.

I have a thing for the Kennedy family. I love them, I read whatever books I can get my hands on about them. Its the history nerd in me….

They are undeniably a fantastic family to follow, they came up from “poor” Irish roots, and became President, Senators, Congressmen, Activists, Ambassadors, Lawyers, Documentary Filmmakers, Writers, the list goes on and on.

In fact, a member of the Kennedy family held a seat in the House or the Senate from 1947-2011, and regained a seat in the November 2012 election (Joseph Kennedy the 3rd, Democrat-Mass), leaving them “seatless” from January 2011 until November 2012. THATS IT!! SINCE 1947 when JFK entered the House of Representatives.

Lately I’ve been thinking, what if the Kennedys had better luck? I’ve been re-reading some of the Kennedy books I have and the thought crossed my mind.

JFK wasn’t supposed to pass by the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, they changed the route to make sure that as many people could see him as possible. – Would he have gone on to a second term and maybe changed the political landscape of the US?  Calmed Cuban relations finally, had more amazing ideas like the Peace Corps? Kept Teddy on a good path and maybe the road to the Presidency after Bobby? Quelled JFK Jr’s taste for adventure at a young age so he wouldn’t live to seek out the thrills that would eventually play a roll in his untimely death?

RFK wasn’t supposed to cut through the kitchen when he won the California primary, he was supposed to go through the main ball room.- Would he have brought “Green Initiatives” to the US doorstep years earlier? Would he have won against Nixon and made it so they were the 1st brothers to hold the office of President? Made even bigger strides in the fight against racism? If he’s hailed now as an icon of American Liberalism and a ‘noted Civil-Rights Activist’ what would we be saying about him if he got a few more years?

JFK Jr had a mess of things happen before his plane went down…-Would he have saved ‘George’ and develop it into a magazine that thrived  in a social media based society ? (we can all admit that the mag was a touch ahead of its time and would have made MILLIONS during the Kerry/Bush and Gore/Bush elections, not to mention the amazing effect it would have had on the 2 Obama campaigns) Maybe had some of the cutest kids ever with Carolyn and embraced reality tv so we would live in a Kardashian TV free world?  One could only dream. 

Who knows?

How different would the world be? Since JFK, there have been 8 presidents, 4 Dems (Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Obama), with Carter and Johnson not serving 2 terms, although Johnson did finish the remainder of Kennedy’s term, he was only elected President for one term.

Would the odds have shifted in favour of the Dems? Would the “Bush” dynasty even have happened? Just think of the ramifications of that train of thought, I mean seriously, take a minute and think of what the world would have been like in the past decade or so if the Bush’s hadn’t taken the helm at one point.

One things for sure, the SNL cast would have had way less fun during the GW time in office, and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” would just seem like a crass statement rather then a comment that has since defined an otherwise fantastic Presidency.

What if….

At the same time, the US still ended up with an amazing President in charge right now and nothing but promising prospects for 2015,

until next time

– be a river with me

BARWM- Epic Salad.

i made the most epic salad tonight. it had sweet, it had savory, it was creamy, it had all of the food groups….it was AWESOME!! So heres the recipe…and a recipe for BARWM Ranch dressing, which is a great way to make salad dressing go a bit further (that shit is expensive)

BARWM RANCH DRESSING 

1 cup Low Fat Sour Cream 

1/2 cup Low Fat Ranch Dressing (i like a yogurt based one myself)

1/4 cup green onions chopped finely 

BARWM EPIC SALAD….

1 cup Kale

1 cup Spinach

1/2 cup cherry tomatos

1/2 cup green seedless grapes

1/2 cup marble cheese (cubed)

4 chicken fingers-

some BARWM Ranch dressing

Bake the chicken fingers as per the boxes directions.  While those are cooking rinse and dry all the veggies and cube the marble cheese (should be roughly the size of a nickel) and mix. When the chicken is done toss it on the salad and drizzle the dressing on top.

Ways to Jack’em Up:  Use a fancier cheese, goat or feta work nice. ditch the spinach and just use kale (its a super food…super good for you), add other fruits (i like mangos and apples personally, add some nuts to get a little more protein (almonds and pistachios have the highest protein)

until next time

– be a river with me