Friday, 29 March 2013

Solo-Cation: #jordantime on her own

Today I am taking a mini vacation by myself. A solo-cation, I guess. I'm staying at the Hotel Indigo here in Ottawa, and I'm blogging whenever I'm not busy just giving myself some needed downtime. You can also follow twitter for my tweets with hashtag #jordantime. You can read the intro post here.


Waiting at Starbucks for 3pm check-in time at the Hotel Indigo here in Ottawa. I realized I have forgotten to charge all my devices, so I sure hope there's lots of plugs in the room. 

I think I've forgotten to mention that I have a roommate living with me now. Bruce--we'll call him Bruce--is an absolute sweetheart and came highly recommended by past roommates. Already I can see why. Though I did have to laugh at him the other day when, shortly after announcing that he'd be around to help me deal with my aggressive male neighbour, I found him staring nervously at the air vent from across the room. Apparently he thought something furry was moving inside of it. A quick check with a flashlight revealed a large dust bunny. I gave him a swat and said, "Oh, big strong man is here to protect me, eh?" And he replied, "From bad men and spiders, yes; from supernatural shit? That's a different thing!" I'm not sure how a mouse or squirrel in a vent would equal something supernatural, but okay, then. Mice will be my responsibility. 

I'm sitting in an armchair at Starbucks and there's another one right beside mine (ostensibly so I could chat with a friend if I brought one); a strange man with his pants tucked into his socks just moved my stuff off that extra chair and sat down. I feel like my solo time bubble has been popped. At least it wasn't  my doing.

I also just realized that everyone in this Starbucks is on a Mac, and I was about to silently shout, "hipsters!" at them all, but then I remembered I'm on an iPad.

Realized I forgot my damn stuffed dog. It's not (just) a security thing: he fits perfectly into my neck at night so I don't get sore. Dammit.

My buddy Ben asks messages to ask what I'm up to today. I tell him I'm at Starbucks waiting for the hotel to let me in. He says, and I quote: "Are you one of those hipsters that works with their laptop in starbucks?"

I spent the first hour getting settled; I ended up asking for a different room, though not because the hotel isn't amazing, which is really really is. (This is the most well-done hotel I've seen in a long, long time. And I've been in a lot of hotels in a lot of price ranges and cities.) It was that a gaggle of twenty-something women were boisterously fussing around in their room, which was adjoined to mine. I figured, if they're that loud at 3pm, I don't want to be near them at 11pm. Anyway, the hotel staff kindly and efficiently moved me, and I've been settled in for a while now.

Then, after unpacking, I did something wild: I went through my entire inbox. And I got it down to 28 emails.

Maybe you have to be as busy a person as I am to understand what sweet heaven this is; but I tell you, if I accomplish just that, plus a good eyebrow tweezing tonight, this trip will be a stellar success in my eyes.

K, I'm off to do something more fun. I don't know what yet. But that's all you get for now.

I'm at Coasters in the Byward Market. I actually really like this restaurant, but I'm having a hard time. I got here and when the host said, "Hi, how are you this evening?" I panicked and said, "Just me." I guess that could have been an answer to the question... "I'm just me tonight, nothing more." Which is still a better answer than, "Fine," which sounds like, "I'm fiiine to look at," or something. Anyway, the host gave me a funny look, then clued in and was actually really congenial, saying that that was a great number and why didn't more people come on their own because it was really easy to seat one. 

Then he gave me a menu and disappeared. And no one else reappeared. I am pretty sure they thought I was waiting for a guest.

Ten minutes later, I waved down a busgirl and asked if someone would take my order. She's now scrambling around for me, getting confused and asking if I want dessert. We eventually figured out that she meant a drink.

My food eventually showed up and now I've devoured the entire plate--a rarity for me, but man was it good--and now I'm in that happy ten minute period where I love everyone here because they stopped the hypoglycemia and fed me something delicious. Fifteen minutes from now, when I realize how full I am, I will have a mild sense of resentment towards these people for giving me the tools with which to gluttonize myself. Yes, I just invented a word: gluttonize.

I couldn't blog anymore last night because my hands were covered in various lotions and potions as I gave my feet and face some much-needed TLC. Also I wanted to focus on the quiet time. But it was great. I did my nails (albeit in my usual 'it looks like you did these in a moving vehicle' fashion), and put on a pineapple mud mask from Log House Perennials (a vendor at the Ottawa Farmer's Market), did a bit of yoga, and watched a bunch of Gilmore Girls episodes. I eventually had to admit my day was over, so I crawled into the giant bed, and woke up buried in a sea of cushy pillows. Fantastic. 

My time alone continues 'til about noon, so off I go for a little more. 

I had such a fantastic solo-cation. This was my first all-out downtime since my separation, and the first time I'd done something so absolutely self-indulgent in...well, maybe years. When I was engaged to be married, I'd been asked what I wanted to do for my bachelorette party, and I'd said, "I want to stay in a hotel for a night, completely alone, and by myself." My request was voted down by everyone as being anti-social and sort of sad. But I'd been about to embark on a long-term commitment where I'd always have a travelling companion, a bedmate, a housemate, and a person to answer to. I dropped the suggestion but never forgot the idea; and when we separated, I began thinking about it again. 

Whether you're engaged, single, married, widowed, or the parent of five screaming quintuplets, I recommend you try something like this for yourself. Choose a place you're going to enjoy staying--I can genuinely recommend the Hotel Indigo Ottawa after staying there myself--not just some $50-a-night motel. Be good to yourself, bring your favourite snacks, and prepare yourself for the guilt that will eventually creep in when you realize you're having a fabulous time when no one else maybe is. I left Alan with a flu-ridden two year-old to go on this adventure, and I'm so glad I did because I came home refreshed and dealt with her myself for two more days after that. Sometimes we don't know how badly we need a break until we take one; and after a certain age, once you get used to sitting in a cramped open-concept office all day, then going home to a place full of family or roommates, you forget what an elixir solitude can be. 

When I saw Alan the next day, he looked at my refreshed face and said, "We should make this an annual thing." He could see how much more focused I was and better in touch with myself than I'd been in months. Also, he's just a wonderful human and would do anything to make me happy. I'm pretty blessed.

But truly, friends: for yourself or for a loved one, I recommend a night or two away. Mother's Day is coming; consider putting Mom up for the night. Same with Dad in June. Or don't wait for an excuse at all: pack up your favourite book, some bath salts, and head out tonight. Do it midweek and return to work renewed. Do it 'cuz it's raining and the rain makes you introspective. Just do it for yourself. I am so grateful for the time and it was tons of fun to blog about.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Going Solo: a staycation on my own

Friday I am taking a mini-vacation. Solo. 

I'm not going far--just downtown Ottawa, where I'll be staying at the very cool Hotel Indigo--but this is a first. I realized recently that I have never done anything like this. I've traveled on my own, but always heading towards a person I was visiting. I have never taken time to be alone, for the purposes of leisure, away from the dubious respite of my messy house.

I have taken partners to hotels or inns for downtime; indeed, I am a huge proponent of mini stay-cations, and recommend everyone takes one from time to time with their sweetie. But it just never really occurred  to me before to give myself that same TLC, all on my own. Of course, it's been a while since I was single, but I don't think a person should have to be single to do this. Solitary time, especially for us introverts, is crucial. When one is mated with another human, that time becomes even more scarce; maybe it's important to reclaim it. 

I'm not sure how it's going to feel to do this. I'm nervous, to be honest; my goal is to spend the time *alone*, not chatting on the phone or on google chat. I'm going to paint my toenails, tweeze my eyebrows, and go to dinner. I'm going to watch whatever movies I want, and in the morning I'm going to head down to the Byward Market for some bread and treats. I will decide what I want to do and when I want to do it, all on my own--no compromising, group planning, or negotiating. I will be at the mercy of my own whim.

It's kind of scary, though I don't know why. 

You can follow my tweets at @girlcrafted with hashtag #jordantime and there'll be a blog post after the stay. Or possibly during it, if I'm lonely for the sound of my own 'voice'.

See you on the flipside.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

DO STUFF: Adventure Show and an Interview with Angus Adventures!

This March, I made a trip down to the Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show at the Ernst & Young Centre in Ottawa. I blogged about this show a bit in advance, when I chatted with show's guest speakers Colin and Julie Angus of Angus Adventures. This intrepid couple circumnavigated the globe using only human-powered modes of transportation. I think they're nuts, but turns out, they're also funny, friendly, and generally awesome.

The show was a ton of fun. Usually I've found these types of shows to be a place at which to gather a hundred pamphlets, and then you go home and don't remember anything you've seen. But this show was highly interactive with lots to do. An entire kids apparatus was set up, as well as a climbing wall, a slackline, and a pool for boating demonstrations. But enough text; here's a video of the show:

And for those of who you think the Angus Adventures couple sounds pretty incredible (and they ARE), here's a full in-person chat I had with them. The outtakes at the end are worth the whole watch.

I heartily encourage you to follow the Outdoor & Adventure show on twitter and facebook so you can attend next year, because the show is constantly growing. I also suggest you follow Angus Adventures because they're really, really cool. And while I'd never want to actually do some of the crazy stuff they've done, it's pretty awesome to live vicariously through their stories.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Dark Pony Empire: away in a manger...

I can't quite recall when I became known as the girl with the thing for unicorns.

But I do I remember the first unicorn gift; it came from Alan and it was a drawing of a My Little Pony unicorn turned into a superhero. Which is awesome, because it reminded me of how much I love My Little Pony. (Except they're kinda skinny and anime-looking now, and they've made them sorta more violent so that boys can feel okay about collecting them. Which is a rant for another day.)

Anyway, however it began, my reputation for pony/unicorn fanatacism continues, amplified by the fact that Tokidoki came out with a line of them called Unicornos and I fell in love. I was looking for a substitute addiction after deciding that my Hello Kitty obsession had outlived its appropriateness. This was decided after having dinner with a group of adult Korean exchange students who belly-laughed at me when I tried to explain that Hello Kitty is also for grown-ups in Canada. 

ANYWAY, I started out with one Unicorno. Then Alan got me another. Then, in a moment of awesomeness, he got me a My Little Pony unicorn *custom made* to be my spirit pony. She has purple and green hair, a star (my favourite thing), and roller skates (my other favourite thing). Her name is a secret; she is only referred to, reverently, as the Dark Queen. The Dark Queen came to reside on my desk, along with my Adios plushie, my Unicornos, and some other creatures that adopted me. So the the Dark Queen came to rule the land of Jordan's Desk, with a fair but firm iron fist. Er, hoof. 

The Dark Queen. I found a background to photograph her on.

Last week, series 2 of the Unicornos came out. I am actively, furtively searching for a few specific ones, but Tokidoki packages them to be a surprise when you open them, so this could become an expensive search. Anyway, the one I bought turned out to be a military one. Which was perfect because how else could the Dark Queen maintain her despotic rule of the Desklands without a military to enforce her dark laws? We're practically building a cutesy version of the Sith Empire. 

I wasn't sure you'd all have the imagination to understand exactly what was happening here, so I took pains to illustrate with some helpful speech bubbles. I kinda love that the Dark Queen has a devil horse as her advisor. The pretty one is obviously her concubine, though she's macking on the military dude.

So then today, Alan shows up and he's got a present for me. Alan is very good at remembering things, and I'm helpful too because I have a goldfish memory and retell my stories a lot of the time; regardless, Alan is aware that my true love and obsession is dragons. If I could get one wish (aside from the usual pat answers and Miss America altruisms that I would undoubtedly put first), it would be to own a dragon. This has been my wish since I was twelve. Alan remembered that I wanted one, so he's done his best to make it happen by presenting me with a dragon egg.

I realize that I'm 31 years old and should probably try to look less insane by saying how this was a nice gesture and what a pretty rock this is. But Deskland makes me happy and gives my imagination something to do. So I will tell you what I really thought as I held that egg in my hands: I'm going to make this sucker hatch.

I went back to my desk, reworked the Dark Queen's podium to become a dragon cave, and tucked the egg into a bunch of shredded paper where it can happily incubate and one day, hopefully provide my Dark Queen with a dragon to do her bidding. I rearranged the kingdom's subjects around the egg to watch in awe, and then I realized I'd inadvertently created a very twisted sort of nativity scene, complete with an angel on top. Huh.

This is how legends are born, my friends.

Also, Alan makes life better. And so do ponies. And dragons. And the occasional T-Rex, but that's a story for another time.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Spring Fashion 2013: what not to hate yourself in


Military is in. Note: camo print does not
necessarily mean it's 'military styled'.
In another lifetime long ago, I was a certified image consultant. This means I was trained to show people how to dress for their personality and body type. I never ended up using the course in its intended fashion--as a personal shopper, perhaps, or as a bitchy gay man on a makeover show--but I have found what I learned to be helpful many times because sometimes the fashion industry seems to be trying to torture us. So here, for what it's worth, are some tips on surviving Spring 2013 fashion trends.


Military styling is always good stuff. There are almost no body shapes that don't suit a military cut because it's generally quite structured, and naturally aims to create an hourglass silhouette. Just be cautious of the colours: if the khakis are two warm-toned, some of us will look washed out. Also remember that anything double-breasted (with two vertical rows of buttons) is meant to be worn done-up and will look boxy if you don't.

Tunics--or, simply, long tops--are still around and this is a good thing, because...

The legging won't die. I love leggings, don't get me wrong; they allow me to wear skirts year-round and that's a wondrous thing because I HATE women's dress pants. But there are still way too many people who wear leggings as pants. Leggings are not pants, people. I don't care if you are 20lbs or 200lbs, you do NOT look good in leggings as pants. Leaving cellulite and pantylines out of it, the simple reality is that most of us are wider in the hip/thigh than we are in the calf/ankle, and this means that leggings make us look extra cakepop-shaped. Throw on a pair of bootcut jeans, though, and the eye will naturally thin the thigh and hip area. Anyway, if you insist on wearing leggings, throw that tunic over top.

I love these, actually; but beware of your proportions. As a woman with short legs, some maxis work on me and some look like I'm impersonating a Pacman ghost: floating along, legless, and shaped like a big bell. Try to have the dress hug *some* part of you so you can see there's some shape under there; I usually go with ones that hug the chest in an empire cut. 

Which is really the start of:


Balance your pastels with a bold/dark piece.
Pastels are deceptively hard to wear, so don't be surprised if you don't look right in them. It's a hard time to wear them too, if you're a pasty near-transparent white girl of Irish descent like myself. Be careful to choose fabrics that aren't too warm in tone: go with powder pink instead of peach, for example. Another easy tip is to wear darker colour with the pastel to balance it out: a stellar pair of inky blue jeans, or a rich brown leather jacket. 

There's a push to have us all wearing really baggy layers in flimsy fabric with bleached-out stripes or mismatched patterns. I don't understand this. If I wanted to look like I'd gotten dressed in the Salvation Army clothing bin during a blackout, I could do it cheaper by actually just doing that. Also, it reminds me of my 80s childhood in some ways and that scares me. 

Be careful of your hemlines. It's an old rule, but if your shorts or skirt is shorter than the reach of your arms when you stand up straight with your hands pointed downwards along your thighs, your outfit is too short for work or normal daily living. Going to the bar? Wear whatever you like, I suppose. But if you're going to the office or the farmer's market, save yourself potential wardrobe malfunctions by just saying NO.

I don't know what to say about this, except that studs on clothing can be cute, or it can look super, super trashy. I know this firsthand: I owned a bedazzler when I was younger. I've made the mistakes, folks. Save yourself by following this simple rule: if you have to ask yourself, "Is this too much bling?" it probably is. The other option: go ALL OUT with it, and then you can say you're wearing it ironically.

Basic optical illusion: if you're not a
stick insect, wear a larger print.
It's not a total no-no, but floral prints can be hard to wear. If you've got a bigger frame, or you have one-half of your body that's wider than you like (I mean, the top or bottom--not the left or right), avoid the floral print--or at least avoid *tiny* floral print. Again, this is something best balanced out with another piece of clothing in a bold colour and no pattern.

Best saved for tall girls. I know, I was disappointed, too. But as a girl with eerily short legs, this hemline seems to just make it more pronounced. 

If you want to be sure you're not going to go home and hate your purchases twenty minutes after buying them, try this simple trick: put on the outfit in the changeroom and look in the mirror; then squint. When your shape is sorta blurry, ask yourself if you look washed out? Strangely proportioned? Pale? Wider than you are? This is a very simple way to avoid some bad purchases.

Wear whatever makes you happy. Love yourself, because if *you* think you look good, your confidence will cast a glow upon you and you will pull off your outfit 80% of the time. But the best way to break the rules is to know them first; so now you know some of the rules, and now you can break them consciously instead of buying a bunch of stuff, getting home, and wondering why you never quite feel like a million bucks. Go forth and dress, my friends!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Dairy-free Week 5: various things worth eating

Continuing with my six weeks of no dairy dieting (in an attempt to reset my lactose tolerance) I made quite a few new things this week, and discovered some deliciousness that I will undoubtedly keep making even after I can partake of the dairy again...
Coconut milk-oatmeal french toast, ya'll. YES.


I found this recipe on Pinterest (and you can see a bunch of other dairy free things I found on there, too). I followed it to a T, and it was fantastic. I don't eat a lot of french toast but when I think of what it's like, it's always sorta gushy mooshy eggy grossness. But this was wonderful. The coconut milk was a great flavour, and the oatmeal encrusted on the outside got toasty and crunchy. I really will be making this again, and I don't think I'll ever go back to the original style. Oh, and for beginners: this was my first time making french toast and it was dead easy! Note: only substitution was that all I had was spelt bread, sliced normally, so that may change your experience.


I got excited about coconut milk, so I made a stir fry just by thinking one up. I honestly couldn't believe it worked out--I was totally prepared to run to the store for a salad or something--but it was great. I just cut up a zucchini and a red pepper, sauteed them in coconut oil, then tossed in a half-can of coconut milk. I realized I needed protein, so in a moment of great daring I threw in a can of tuna. I didn't really think that it would be a good flavour comibination, but it was! To help it along, I crushed up some coriander seeds and threw in some other herbs; I'd tell you what they are but I stopped labelling them a while ago so now I just sniff them to see if I think they'll be good in the mix. I made a batch of tri-colour rice, poured this over top after the coconut milk reduced down, and voila. Simple and fast dinner. Note: sorry there's no nice picture of this on a plate; it was so good I forgot to take a picture, even the next day when I ate the leftovers for lunch.


While I continue my loathsome dairy fast, I made up a batch of muffins that I've already been making for a year or so now, but with a twist. This recipe comes from my friend and food hero Jodi Turner, a nutritionist here in Ottawa who rocks my socks.

The recipe calls for spelt flour, which I ended up using, but usually I just use a whole wheat flour because I feel better about that than white flour, but the texture and moisture level is more what I'm used to. I also had to substitute one egg, as I needed two and only had one. I checked online and people said you could use a mashed banana instead, so I gave it a try; they turned out just fine!


Makes about 12 large muffins
Preheat oven 325’
Prep a muffin tin with muffin cups or lightly spray with sunflower
oil or your favorite oil.

In a large bowl, mix together…

2 cups spelt flour
1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup oat bran (or omit and use 2 cups of rolled oats)
1 Tbsp cinnamon (or more!)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of sea salt (optional)

In another bowl, beat together…

2 eggs
½ cup sunflower oil (or sub in coconut oil for a new flavor)
½ cup honey or maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk (or milk substitute & add a spoonful of vinegar
to make it sour like buttermilk)

Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together only
until incorporated. Do not over mix.
You may need to add a little water depending upon the refinement
of the flour…you want a nice moist batter.
At this point, you can add berries or nuts or whatever you like.
Scoop into muffin tin and bake 20-25 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

To make them more awesome, I added dairy-free chocolate chips, and a generous handful of edible lavender buds. They have a sort of minty-rosemary flavour and kind of make the muffins more 'grown up'. Plus they're pretty and people are always impressed. And they go with chocolate. And I feel like I live in Jane Austen times.

So simple, even *I* haven't been able to screw them up, and I've done every kind of substitution you can imagine as I forget to buy all the right ingredients!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Wil Wheaton, Martha Stewart, and Lady MacBeth Get On a Bus...

Just some random goodies that were too short to be included as regular blog posts...

Toronto Comicon: crowded, crowded place.

I had a dream the other night that I was really mean to Wil Wheaton and made him cry. I'm not sure what he did to piss me off, and I'm not sure what I said that made him cry, but I woke up feeling bad because somehow I couldn't shake the feeling this would mean he'd never hang out with me in real life. Sorry, Wesley.


I have had a mantra since getting separated last year: Be the Martha Stewart of divorce. But then I found out that Martha Stewart is already divorced, so I guess that already makes her the defacto Martha Stewart of divorce. So now I'm feeling a bit rudderless. I guess I can settle for being the Bridget Jones of divorce (clumsy and social awkward? Check!), or maybe the Niles Crane of divorce (you know, from Fraser...neurotic and OCD). Or maybe I'll be Martha Stewart Lite, since there's no way I can keep up with her post-divorce crafting-baking-cleaning-cooking-home-decoring schedule.

Unshakable desire to scrub my skin off.

I went to Toronto Comicon last weekend. It was really overwhelming. I don't mind crowds but when the numbers are well into the tens of thousands, sometimes I crack a little. Anyway, the first morning of the con I went out for a smoke, fighting through the crowds to escape for a minute, and when I came back I decided I should pee before going back in. So I did. And then I stood up and realized that some other chick had totally gotten a surprise visit from Aunt Flo. All over the toilet seat. The toilet seat that I'd just sat on. I stood there for the longest time making hyperventilating gasping sounds while my brain tried to turn off the wailing OCD sirens that were going off. I don't remember if I pulled up my leggings, but I know I stumbled over to the row of sinks, made up some hot soapy paper towels, and scoured myself like Lady MacBeth. Then I went back to the con and told MJ what had happened and we both agreed we would never speak of it so that my brain could cut the experience out of my memory forever. But it didn't work. So now it's in YOUR head, too. You're welcome.


I was taking the bus home from work this week and the sun was still up, thanks to Daylight Savings (where we all turn our clocks ahead an hour). Anyway, everything was going fine but then I realized it had been so many months since I'd seen my neighbourhood in daylight coming home that I didn't know where I was. I recognized absolutely nothing. I hesitated and decided to stay on the bus 'til the end of the route, like my brother had once done on the school bus; but then luckily I recognized a sign for nearby Burnett Park and got off the bus at the right stop. Which leads me to my next odd thought: is this park named after Mark Burnett? Every time I see the little play structure there, I picture some sort of Lord of the Flies-style Survivor episode transpiring with little children. A gruesome TV show idea that I'd probably end up watching, because sometimes you just can't stop yourself. You know: the same way you finished reading the story above about the toilet seat.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Toronto Comicon: where else can you see three Vaders together?


On Friday we headed out on the five hour drive to hit the Toronto Comicon. I haven't been to a con in Toronto before, so I wasn't sure what to expect, except that it was likely to be large and crowded. I wasn't disappointed.
A portion of the lineup outside.

The organizers estimated there'd be between 65,000-90,000 people in attendance; I have no idea how many ended up showing, but I can tell you that the show was sold out on the first day and the line to get in circled the baseball diamond (the Rogers centre) beside the actual convention centre.

I spent most of my time helping out at the Comic Book Shoppe booth, but when I did get out to look around, I got to see some pretty great sights. I'm just gonna let the photos do the talking here...

Voltron costumes so cool, I just stared in wonder.

Crowded place!

The best Borg I may have ever seen.

A Dr Who Tardis turned Transformer. Much cooler than a normal Tardis.

Some very cool steampunk outfits.

See no Dark Side, hear no Dark Side, Speak no Dark Side.

The infamous 501st, a serious Star Wars fan club.

Behind the scenes of the cosplayers.

Even Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn needs a time out.

Wolverine out on a smoke break...with a cigar, naturally.

Shoppe staff! On the right is the infamous MJ!

Tiny awesome Batman.

Dr Crusher looking fine.

Riker, looking aged but still pretty cool.

Geordi Laforge looking exactly the same as ever. Go, Reading Rainbow!

Adventure Time fans with some zombies. By the end of the con, it was one big crossover.

As wild as Toronto Comicon was, I'm even more excited for Ottawa and Montreal, where I'm gonna actually be warm enough to dress up in costume. Though I kinda wish I had a Voltron costume now...

Monday, 11 March 2013

Adventure Ahoy! Julie & Colin Angus and the OAT show are coming!


credit: Sean Williams
The motto of the Girl, Crafted blog is Make Stuff –Do Stuff – Eat Stuff – Love Stuff, and so naturally, the upcoming Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is going to be a great place to scope out things to do. The 2013 OAT show is happening on March 16 & 17, spanning the large space available at the Ernst & Young Centre (formerly called the CE Centre at 4899 Uplands Drive).

The organizers of the OAT show say there’s a steady increase in the number of people looking for adventuresome activities and travel. Lying on a beach endlessly may appeal to the couch potato who wants to become a baked potato, but the rest of us—at least 63% of us, they say—are looking to do something more exciting with our leisure time.

Whether you’re into hardcore adventure time like skydiving and dogsledding, or you’re interested in something a little more tame, like canoeing or cycling, the show will have information on it all.

And, not only are there going to be tons of cool exhibitors showing off what they offer for adventurous souls, there will also be some top-drawer speakers, like Julie and Colin Angus. Julie and Colin are a Canadian adventurer couple, bestselling authors, and the first couple to circumnavigate the globe on human-powered transportation alone. I asked them a few questions ahead of the OAT show, where you can see them share their story live.


credit: Martina Cross
Who are you and what's your story?
We’re just regular Canadians that have been lucky enough to develop a lifestyle where we explore the world and embark on adventures for a living. Basically, we come up with different adventure concepts such as circling the world entirely by human power or researching the origins of the most influential fruit, the olive, and then create books, videos and presentations so we can share our adventures with the world.

What adventure are you currently working on or wrapping up?

We’re currently wrapping up an expedition we conducted in partnership with National Geographic researching the origins of the olive tree. We spent five months voyaging the Mediteranean looking into all aspects of the olive – it’s huge influence on the development of the western world, health benefits and history. We also were partnered with the Plant Genetics Institute of Perugia, Italy gathering genetics from ancient olive trees around the Mediterranean looking to shine some light on the mystery of whether early Phoenicians were responsible for spreading the cultivated tree from its origins of what is now Syria. This summer Colin will be attempting to break the human powered speed record from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

Were you both adventurers from the start, or did one of you bring the other one into the lifestyle?

credit: Martina Cross
Colin started out as a nerdy kid with a dream to go adventuring at a young age. His first adventure began shortly after graduating from high-school, buying a beat up old sailboat and spending five years offshore sailing. Julie became an adventurer much later, after spending many years in university and working in the corporate world. She was inspired to do something out of her comfort zone after reading about an English guy who planned on rowing across the Atlantic.

Julie: on GIRL, CRAFTED we talk a lot about crafting oneself; have your adventures made you who you are? How has that journey gone?

Undoubtedly, adventure has partially crafted who I am, but it’s hard to say exactly how much. My early life experiences –upbringing, peer groups, etc – helped form the determination and confidence required to embark on the adventures in the first place. Experiences such as spending five months rowing across an ocean definitely reinforced these attributes, and changes your perspective on yourself and the world in general.

What advice would you two give to someone who has a dream outside the norm?

Believe in yourself, and don’t let criticism erode your confidence. Always, when you do something outside the norm there will be people questioning your ability to pull it off. Only you know what you are capable of.

What's each of your favourite moments so far on your travels?

credit: Martina Cross
Julie: It was our interaction with a turtle so friendly, that ironically the situation became dangerous. After stroking his flippers and taking pictures of him, we realized that our boat was in danger as waves slammed the hull down on its giant shell. It got to the point where Colin and I had to row as hard as we could to escape the turtle. He gave chase, but we were able to outrun the turtle.

Colin: For me it was the opportunity to experience a hurricane intimately from a small rowboat. Of course it didn’t seem like such a great experience at the time, but I do enjoy revisiting that moment through hind-sight goggles.

Colin: on any of your adventures (I'm thinking of the Atlantic in particular), did you ever consider giving up? How did you keep going?

Absolutely, the great thing about the Atlantic was we didn’t really have the opportunity to give up without instigating an international deep sea rescue effort. That’s always a great motivator to keep going. I find the most important thing to do when I feel like giving up is to really focus on little baby steps forward. Just think about what you have to do for the next hour without overwhelming yourself about what’s ahead.

Anything else to say to an audience of Do-It-Yourself'ers?
When you have a good idea, go ahead with it. It’s too easy to let those great ideas sit in a closet forever.

credit: Julie Angus
We’ll chat more with Colin and Julie at the Adventure &Travel show next weekend, and I hope to see you readers there!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Alfredo sans dairy: more dairy-free edibles


Okay, so week 3 of my no-dairy fast started off with a bang. I think I’m getting into the swing of it. I invented a recipe and I’m soooo proud of myself for this one. I came home the other night and had nothing—NOTHING—to eat in the house except some coconut milk, pasta, and canned veggies. I thought to myself, this would be a good time to make an Alredo sauce, except I can’t do I called MJ and asked her how you make it. As she explained, I just substituted with non-dairy stuff. Here’s literally an accounting of the recipe.

Butter alternative (note that many commercial margarines still have lactose)
Milk alternative (I used coconut milk—the kind that drinks like milk, not the canned kind)
Vegan cheese
White flour
Peas if desired
Soup stock (the dry cube kind)

'Butter', but not enough flour yet.
MJ: “First, you’d melt about 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter in a pot.”
Jordan: “Done.” (Note: I didn’t measure, I just threw in about a handful amount.)

MJ: “Well, then you’d mix in some flour, a little bit at a time, stirring all the time. You keep adding flour ‘til it thickens up like icing. It kind of balls up.”
Jordan: (after a lot of hmm’ing and hawing) “Done.”

Butter and flour! This is called a roux.

MJ: “Then you can start adding in your milk, a bit at a time, whisking constantly. Just keep doing that ‘til you’re happy with the consistency.”
Jordan: “Wow, okay. That took about 2/3 of my tetra pack of coconut milk.” (Remember the extra all makes sense.)

MJ: “Now you can throw in a bouillon (soup stock) cube, and any spices you want.”
Jordan: “Done. And I’m adding peas.”
MJ: “Well, you do like cream peas on toast.”
Jordan: “This is Alfredo!”

MJ: “Now, if you weren’t dairy-free, you’d add a bunch of parmesan at this point.”
Jordan: “I have...Toffuti cream cheese. Let’s try that.” (Scooped about a Clementine-sized amount into the pot.)

Jordan: “It’s thickening up.”
MJ: “You can add more milk if you want.”
Jordan: “Done. And I’m adding spices.”

MJ: “That’s about it.”
Jordan: “I’m amazing! Look at me go! I have Alredo!”
MJ: "That took...18 minutes from start to finish."
Jordan: "And I've got about 4 servings here! Amazeballs!"

(Jordan then sits down with a big plate of rigatoni, and some sparkling lemonade in a wine glass since she doesn’t drink.)

Voila, my friends. Try it out. It’s delicious and it’s dairy-free! Enjoy!

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