27 February 2010

Waterfront sadfest

halifax attempted to have some winter festivities down in the tourist waterfront area.

to celebrate the end of the olympics and hopefully the winding down of winter, halifax decided to organize the "waterfront winterfest." from what i could tell, this isnt something they regularly do, but they wanted to do something for the olympics and to promote the 2011 canada games (which will be held in halifax!). activities planned were snow sculpting, snowboard competitions, a skating rink, and outdoor winter treats.

while the weather (see previous entry about the EXCESSIVE wind and rain) decimated nearly all hopes of a "winter" atmosphere, they did still attempt to celebrate. we ventured down to the waterfront around lunchtime to see what we could see. two blocks from us were the trucked in blocks of snow that were supposed to be sculpted later. they must have been brought in after the storm, but they still looked grey, lumpy, and depressing. next to them was a maple syrup treat tent...we came back for this after lunch. :)

we walked further down the waterfront to the "main center" of the festival. the jumbotron was being set up to view live olympic events for the final two days. the jumbotron was sandwiched between the dismal looking snowboard area with mucky snow and the "ice rink" that was actually made up of some fake ice material that still allows you to glide with skates. weird. but, at least there was a trusty "beavertail" stand in the mix.

(the beavertail cart)

ever since we encountered this heart attack treat while skating on the canals of ottawa six years ago i have come to associate it with canada and winter. the beavertail stand pumps the smell of grease out almost as well as they pump their treats out. basically a flat doughnut, you can put sugar, a squeeze of lemon, chocolate, apples, maple syrup, bananas, nutella, or almost any other thing on your beavertail. you cannot justify eating one unless youve already burned some serious calories for the day. i was actually more repulsed than drawn to the stand this time.

instead, my stomach led me in to the touristy restaurant called the waterfront warehouse which was located right in the middle of the action of this jumpin winterfest. they had a special reduced price menu, so i figured it would be their one chance to impress. the sandwich i got was actually decent (first tasty ciabatta bread ive had since i arrived) and the price was right (like $6 or $7) but our waiter was like a used car salesman. ew. after my cheapo sandwich (and water) dave and i finished the snack with two of their cookies that came wrapped in cellophane, which our waiter bitterly referred to as "canteen food." okay guy, youre really winning me over, i didnt really wanna come here in the first place and im happy to leave only $12 in your restaurants purse. kiss my butt!

anyway, after food we wanted to leave because the scene was just so depressing. we walked back to the maple syrup tent and got to enjoy a sweet treat of hot, condensed maple syrup poured over ice while being swirled on a stick. mmm. i love maple syrup in every form. the tent was representing a maple farm north of us, near the b&b we recently went to, called sugar moon farm. they are located in earltown and regularly hold maple syrup pancake meals and related events. i think we will definitely have to get up there sometime.

although we left the "winterfest" with a maple treat induced smile on our face, i have to say it turned out to be a bummer. even if the weather had cooperated, it didnt seem that they had anything impressive going on (we ended up checking in with the jumbotron at night to see how the gold medal curling match was going and the atmosphere and crowd were still lame). but, of course, the crap weather had come through, so it just made everything that much more pathetic. however, after seeing the major devastation our storm caused when it got to western france (spain and portugal too), we definitely got off easy.

Un-wind with thai food and friends

under lovely weather conditions, we had dinner out with our fellow pregnant couple friends.

a storm from the u.s. came in overnight and brought LOTS of wind and rain and the storm continued to rage ALL day. dave, insanely, chose to ride his bike in to work when the winds were up somewhere at 104 km/h (some might say hes just a hardcore, dedicated biker, but im frightened about monsters gene pool). it felt like hurricane season. thankfully, we didnt lose power at the apartment (somehow!), so i worked from home all day.

our plans this evening were to have dinner down the street from us with friends emily and craig, the ones with a due date the day before me. since the thai place was literally a block from us, even though the storm continued, we kept our plans. sporadic parts of town (including some restaurant strips) were without power though, so when we arrived at the restaurant it was packed. thankfully we had a reservation, but service in general was slow. if we hadnt had friends to talk to i would have gnawed off my own arm, or at least played the "pregnant lady need food now!" card. as it was, we were able to chat, catch up (i had seen emily at the prenatal things, but we hadnt seen craig since before christmas), discuss the olympics, and tabulate baby stuff.

as for the food, we still havent really found a thai place that works for us here. to be fair, i didnt want to get curry for fear of heartburn (i did get their take-out curry a while back though and it was just okay), but my chicken with veggies on glass noodles dish was almost too bland. dave ordered some vegetarian cashew dish that was "meh." the saddest thing though was that he ordered a thai iced tea, a normally fabulous beverage, and it was SO not okay. instead of a chilled smokey tea with cream, it was like a creamy fruit juice. icky. at least we had good company for the evening, and it was nice to get out of the house. the weather was just a bit too dramatic today, i hope we see some sunshine sometime soon.

Dou-la wanna good birth experience?

we have chosen to hire a doula as part of our birth plan.

now, the word doula only entered my lexicon about three years ago when my public health friend was getting ready to have her daughter. it sounded like some tribal african word for someone who would chant around a stick of incense while you were in labor to ward off bad spirits. i didnt know what to make of it.

well, the word is actually from ancient greek and the birth support they provide has been around, in some form, most likely since the dawn of woman. while they are NOT midwives (as some might assume), a doula can provide prenatal support, postpartum support, and most often labor/childbirth support. there are informal doulas and, recently, there are doula certification programs. these women get trained in all kinds of things: relaxation techniques (including lamaze), child care, breastfeeding, and much more. they are making a visible resurgence in the u.s. and canada where c-section and epidural rates have soared.

research has shown that there are many benefits of having a doula. a doulas presence at birth: tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications, reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans, reduces the mothers request for pain medication and/or epidurals, and reduces negative feelings about the childbirth experience. and, parents who receive doula support: are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics, have greater success with breastfeeding, and have less postpartum depression.

anyway, with our isolation here and the fact that neither of us has had more than a few brief brushes with hospital atmosphere, we wanted to have someone else there with us who would be knowledgeable, helpful, and solidly in our corner. i look forward to the help, but i also didnt want dave to feel nervous or helpless or confused either. this is a new moment in time for him as well and he shouldnt be left out of the opportunity to have a positive experience.

so, i contacted a few doulas whose names i had seen thrown around town. the first one was booked. the second one we met with was nice and organized and fairly structured. she was kinda like me and we three got along fine, but we met with one more woman just to get a sense of who else is out there. this woman is named wanda and she is a single mom with three boys. she gave birth at the same hospital as i will with all three kids and has attended something like 90+ births. she is confident yet calm, patient but firm, knowledgeable yet soft. she seemed to have all the tools i value and she made dave feel at ease right away. we decided to go with her. so now we have our doula.

we get to meet with her a few times before monster comes to prepare and discuss our goals, fears, etc. and then she will come to the hospital with us (and/or our apartment, if i can stay here for the majority of time before we need to go to the hospital), and she will stay for a couple hours after monster arrives to help get us situated and comfortable breastfeeding, etc.

now, doulas can be free (the informal kind), but the certified ones do cost money. in my brief little survey, it seems that this cost varies by region and by supply. a doula friend i have in north carolina costs about $600 for the same type of "service" i described, while she has friends who charge $1200 in the new york area. anyway, there is also a fair amount of variability here, but with the recent unexpected arrival of a check from daves grandma, we decided this was definitely something we could feel comfortable investing in (we paid more for nutmegs butt surgery for goodness sake!).

so, here we go with a little more confidence toward monsters arrival date...

23 February 2010

FASCC 4 - sushi nami

sushi club met again.

this time four of us ate at sushi nami royale. matthias ordered his typical nigiri and maki menagerie and rajesh (our newer addition) ordered the "donburi mono unaju" (basically a rice bowl with bbq eel) and the "yaki-nasu" appetizer (grilled eggplant topped with sweet miso sauce). he liked both of his dishes.

for us, dave ordered the "deluxe maki dinner" (22 pcs maki: 4 black dragon, 4 gold dragon, 3 california, 3 spicy salmon, 3 tuna & 6 yam tempura roll pieces) and i ordered the vegetable soba, again. and i think im done ordering it. ive had SO much better back in michigan that it makes me sad. the soba at this place came with lettuce and green and red peppers as some of the choice veggies. nope. the peppers are not japanese and their strong flavor fouled up the whole taste of the broth. plus, lettuce in soup is just gross when its all limp. ick. and, while daves maki platter was okay, we are both burning out on the local sushi options. nothing is even coming close to our favorite spot here. i mean, i would think a few places would have something that they did well enough to stand out as worthwhile to come back for, but really no.
(daves maki platter)

so, since we will likely be switching the club up to involve other ethnic foods, i thought i might mention the quirky menu item weve seen everywhere in town. each sushi place so far has had "sushi pizza" on its menu. total white person cuisine infiltration. this seems totally wrong, though ive been mildly tempted to try it...just to say i have. here is the menu description: lightly breaded & deep fried sushi rice with a topping baked with creamy cheese sauce (topping choices: bbq eel, salmon, tuna, chicken). we routinely hear people ordering this and the one time i asked our waitress about it she raved about it. hmmm, im not convinced.

another sushi oddity, dave came across this little internet game called sushi cat. its kinda like PLINKO but you drop a cat down the gauntlet and its eats up pieces of sushi to become "full" and advance to the next level...the graphics are really cute.

21 February 2010

Pict-a nice spot for a night

spent the night at a b&b.

dave came home from work on friday with the idea to try a night out at a b&b (well, it had been my idea for a while but it never got off the ground). he found a great deal ($60 for a king-sized bed room with hot breakfast in the morning) at a nice little place on the northern coast that faces prince edward island. he called them that night and booked the room. the plan was to head up on saturday after his ultimate game.

so, i picked him up at the gym on saturday and we drove north. the weather turned to snow at some point in the drive, but we did finally arrive in the town of pictou (pronounced pick-toe) and stepped in to the willow house inn. we immediately found out we were the only guests that night, which i guess wasnt such a surprise, but it was amusing. we were shown up to our very large room with an extremely comfortable king sized bed (i think the mattress was that fancy memory foam stuff) and then invited down for tea.

(map marker is on pictou)

in the dining room, the b&b owners were spending the evening with a couple of friends of theirs. they were finishing dessert when we got downstairs, so we sat and chatted with them for a bit. the woman was from cape breton island and her husband was from france (clermont-ferrand to be exact. see map below.). they were older and friendly and had lots of questions for us: how did we like living here, what have we seen so far, what brought us here. and through the course of chatting the woman mentioned she worked locally for end-of-life care (aka palliative care) services. i mentioned that i just started a project at work on that topic and she was tickled to make the connection with a young stranger.

(map marker is on clermont-ferrand, france)

after they left, we sat for a long while longer with the b&b owners. they were discussing some of their travels (their favorite u.s. spot seemed to be california) and spent lots of time sharing the history of town, the area, and the province while giving us a nice rundown of the fun things to see and do. new activities on my to-do list, per their suggestion: the pictou lobster carnival, the great canadian lumberjack challenge (apparently the local firemen smoke salmon on cedar planks all day and serve a community dinner at night during this event. yum.), and touring the glenora single malt whiskey distillery in cape breton (not that i like scotch, but i can think of some potential visitors who would be interested. plus, its always fun to learn about something direct from people who make it). as for the history, apparently pictou is the site of the landing of the ship hector (on september 15, 1773) that brought the first group of scottish people to the land.

anyway, after much chatting we finally made it up to bed where we sprawled out and fell asleep. in the morning, we were greeted with a wintry scene of the town from our window and a view of the water. we headed down to the dining room where fresh (and still warm) biscuits were awaiting us along with a colorful row of homemade jams and jellies (strawberry, blueberry, peach, and grape). there was juice, milk, a row of cereals and some slices of fresh bread for toast, plus i got some scrambled eggs with cheese whipped up for me as well. i basically gorged on the biscuits though. yum.

(our b&b in the morning snow)

after breakfast we packed up, said our thank yous and goodbyes, and took a little walk around town. the walk basically consisted of the main waterfront area and the two or so blocks of main street. in the waterfront area they have docked the original ship hector. its a very beautiful boat whose image, for me, conjured up adventure, like the ship from "goonies."

(the ship hector; a squat lighthouse on the waterfront near the ship)

heading back from the waterfront down main street took us past a few notables. one being the scottish gift shop with tartan-wear for babies and kids. another being the local knife company. and lastly, right near our b&b was another b&b which bore a plaque reading "former u.s. consulate." now why on earth would there ever have needed to be a consulate here? i cant imagine the town as ever being that big or having such a need. bizarre.

(the baby tartan gear. also of note, apparently this is the official tartan pattern of nova scotia; the former u.s. consulate building in pictou)

back at the car, we piled in for the drive back. we popped in to the town of new glasgow to find it was mostly a commercial/industrial-type city, so we proceeded to truro to find lunch. as it was sunday, we had a limited selection of restaurants that were open. we finally had to settle on the kind of place i hate. a kitschy seafood joint in a strip mall totally overdone in maritime decorations and touting itself to be the best fish n chips in the atlantic provinces...sure. dave got the fish and i got a burger (fearing fried food overload). the "fish" was mostly batter (though the tartar sauce was decent) and the burger was tiny and ick. our coconut cream pie was large but "meh." overall, we were glad to get out of there without a huge dent in our wallet or explosive diarrhea.

but, the trip, in general, was a nice, if brief, diversion from everyday living. an inexpensive getaway from home to explore a new area. plus, with the new recommendations for nova scotia activities to add to my list, it makes for potential future fun. so, good stuff all around and good idea dave. :)

20 February 2010

I-ssa[y] that ma'noosh is good

ate at issas saj house lebanese restaurant again.

we ate here several weekends ago before we went bowling and got our falafel and hummus taster staples. once we "approved" of the restaurant based on these dishes, we wanted to come back for another try at the menu. in particular, i wanted to try the ma'nooshs that they said they were known for. its basically just a simple flat bread with a multitude of potential toppings.

i chose the chicken and cheese ma'noosh (djaj jibni on the menu). it was right up my alley, basically a fabulous pizza without the tomato sauce. the bread dough was perfect (soft, not too thin but still had crisp on the edges), it wasnt swimming in cheese oil, and the chicken was basic but had a great marinade (or was at least spiced and grilled well). yum yum. and it turned out to be plenty filling.

dave ordered the vegetarian platter. what a deal. it was like $11 and he got 2 falafel patties, 3 vegetarian grape leaves, hummus, tabbouli, mjadara rice, tahini sauce, pita slices, and a spinach fatayer. every single item on the platter was yum. i even found the tabbouli to be edible (i normally cant handle that much parsley. and dont get me started on tomatoes).

it may pain my mediterranean food loving friends to know that there are two things we just started eating since weve been in halifax: veggie grape leaves and spinach fatayers. i cant explain this. first, ive had spanakopita many times but thats spinach with phyllo dough, not turnover-type dough. i love spinach in every baked form so now i add the fatayer to the pile. and as for grape leaves, i dont know what my issue was. i never knew they would taste so good, so, when presented with a mountain of other yummies, i never went for it. my loss. but now i am converted!

(my chicken ma'noosh; daves veggie platter)

anyway, we had a tasty time but we were so full we didnt have room to try one of the yogurt and honey (or nutella and banana) ma'nooshs. darn...i guess we will just have to come back another time... :)

19 February 2010

Healthcare corner #7 - Quality of life and primary healthcare

dalhousie actually gave a snow day(!) on wednesday, so class was canceled...and rescheduled for today, the friday afternoon before "spring" break. imagine how many people showed up...

(from no snow the night before, this is what we saw outside our building in the morning. and it was still snowing. although, compared to the recent east coast slams, i realize this is nothing.)

**i warn in advance that this one is a bit denser than others. i tried to cut it down, but then there wouldnt be a point to writing it in the first place. i dont blame you if you are dulled to sleep, but at least skip to the interesting websites at the end**

the wrap-up to the "effectiveness" topic was a discussion on quality of life measures. so, traditionally, measuring life expectancy or mortality rates or reporting on the number and types of diseases present in a population are the preferred statistics to see how healthy your citizens are. the task of counting deaths for the year (to produce mortality rates or life expectancy) is something that even the most poor nations can usually do. the statistics you get from this action are considered to be very accurate and can easily be used by everyone in the world to get a number that can be directly compared. but, how much of the picture of health do we get?

in the developed nations with more money for research, newer measures have been created. the thought is, its great to try to understand the picture of when people are dying and from what diseases, but shouldnt we also care about the quality of the years of life they are living? what is the point of living longer if you are in a wheelchair, laying in the hospital, taking 40 pills a day, etc.?

in north america and europe, there has been development of measures to better understand the quality of the years people are living. the "health-adjusted life year" (HALY) combines information on both the length of life and quality of life. this type of measuring has been going on, solidly, since the late 1980s or early 1990s. its not as "strong" as a mortality rate (its more "touchy feely"), so it requires much more thought, debate, tweaking, etc over time to make sure you are measuring what you want to measure. europe has developed a measure for this that works for them, the u.s. has a couple they use, and canada uses the "health utility index" (HUI).

the HUI compiles information from 8 health areas: vision, hearing, speech, ambulation, dexterity, emotion, cognition, and pain. the standardized/tested responses in these health areas are given weight/value and are condensed into a scale of 0 to 1 (0 = dead, 1 = perfect health). i will stop with further details, but i will say that canada uses this HUI to measure quality of life in some of its large, routinely performed, national surveys (the canadian community health survey and the national population health survey).

measuring HUI provides plentiful research fuel for scientists, but its also useful for cost-effectiveness analysis. for example, you can look at how much an intervention will cost to extend one additional year of life (is it worth it to fund something that costs $5 billion and will only increase the populations life by 1 year?) or extend one additional health-adjusted life year (is it worth it to fund something that costs $5 billion and will only increase the length of the populations period of "ideal health" by 1 year?). note: these quality of life measures (HALYs) are utilitarian in nature; the goal is to find the most efficient use of money that will maximize the total "good" for a population (so, no extra weight or consideration is given to "sicker" or "vulnerable" groups).

for the other part of the class we talked about primary healthcare and chronic disease management. due to canadas healthcare history, they have been covering hospital care for many, many decades. they have a strong system for that. but, as technology and trends have moved things out of hospitals, canada has had to learn to adapt. chronic disease and non-emergent care is in much higher demand than anything else now. however, the economic slow down in the 1990s didnt help canada move quickly in this area and its been lagging behind its european counterparts.

canadian general practitioners have lower marks (compared to western europe) in areas like: having patients records stored electronically, monitoring diseases and experiences of the patient pool served (monitoring the patient population of your entire practice. ie. how many patients do i serve with diabetes? how many get regular eye exams?), participating in quality control efforts, providing continuity of care for patients, and ease of patient access to doctors (by email, etc) or medical records.

efforts are underway to attack this problem and realign canada with its goals and vision of healthcare. researchers and policy makers would like to see the problem tackled like the wait time issue. when wait times were deemed to be inappropriate and in need of action, a government mandate provided funds and resource recommendations to make the situation better (not that its fixed completely, but it was shown to have made an impact). for primary care and chronic disease management, there are already provinces (ontario and quebec) doing well in these areas that can serve as models for the rest of canada if a new mandate were to come.

lastly, if you are still with me, a few different people have brought some interesting health-related sites to my attention:

1. my boss showed me this website that maps some health indicators by state and county in the u.s. its easy to use and might be fun to check out how your state or county is doing.

2. dave showed me this website that charts different countries of the world against many different statistics (i.e. life expectancy, deaths from earthquakes, number of computers per citizen). you can look within the u.s. (and other countries) or you can compare countries to each other. its kind of similar to that "equal societies" talk i went to.

3. my friend meg brought this website to my attention. its a new endeavor by an innovative u.s. physician who hopes to present and promote the idea that healthcare can be like any other consumer-driven market. with emerging technologies, we can put an individuals health more at their fingertips. by showing them what innovations are out there or coming (blogged about on the site) they can start driving the supply and demand chain and modifying the healthcare system. an interesting idea. i have yet to buy in completely, but i love the post about happiness and vacation planning.

18 February 2010

Nessie news - 29 weeks

29 weeks. gettin there.

dr appt:
gained 1.5 pounds. yay. my blood pressure was 105/62. urine was fine. baby heartbeat was fine. we talked about getting booked for the "birth pre-admission clinic" at the hospital (to get pre-registered so you dont have to do much when you come in actually in labor). i also asked about pediatricians for monster. since i dont have any other doctor here, it is possible that my doctor will take me (and monster) as her patients after i deliver. otherwise, some people just get referred to her during pregnancy and go back to their regular doctor after the baby is born.

1. glucose test(s). so, i had my first glucose blood draw at the hospital. you have 5 minutes to drink 10 fl oz of some nasty orange pop (containing 50g of glucose). then, you wait an hour and get your blood drawn to see how you metabolized it. while there, i heard a "code blue" announcement that was going on in a maternity room. having my handy hospital system worker badge i was able to look up what this meant...cardiac arrest. scary. i hope everything turned out okay.

anyway, i ending up failing this first glucose test (had a level of like 9.3 when the maximum "normal" amount was 7.8). this meant i had to go in to my doctor for a consultation and a new appointment for another test. a fasting glucose test appt.

arrived at my fasting glucose test appointment some days later at 8a. first you get your finger poked and they squeeze puddles of blood into a tube. painful. then they put a drop on a test strip and get an initial glucose level (i started at a good level of 3.8). then you have to drink another bottle of orange pop (75g of glucose this time. you have 10 minutes to drink it. on an empty stomach. in the morning. if you barf, you have to go home and try another day). then you sit around and get your blood drawn at one hour and two hours. the only fun part of the experience was that they gave me a yellow newborn hat for monster. cute. not so good part: while waiting those two hours, i heard another "code blue" going on in the eye clinic. :(

results: i passed! my one hour level was apparently one value away from "abnormal," but i did pass. no gestational diabetes. phew!

(dave and the tiny newborn cap we got from the hospital)

2. dave baby dream. dave rarely remembers his dreams, but he was able to retain snippets of his first baby dream after he woke up recently: we came home from the hospital as a family and i was immediately back to normal (not tired, not sore, full of energy, etc). we apparently hadnt found out the sex of the baby at the hospital, so when we got home we checked it out and saw that it was a girl. the baby was very calm, and dave remembers thinking “wow, the baby isnt as fussy as i was expecting.” the end...dare to dream. lol.

3. monster video. thought i might get the hang of using the video mode on the camera, and with the power punches from within, i thought there might be something entertaining to catch if i trained the lens on my belly. unfortunately, monster seems to be camera shy and saves the best activity for when my belly is covered by my shirt, but i caught a few seconds of a mild session. here is a sample video:

(only about 30 seconds long and most of the "action" is over at around 20 seconds. i didnt say anything, so you wont be missing anything if your sound is off.)

15 February 2010

Heart to art

spent our anti-valentines day at the city art museum.

we had been saving the visit to the art gallery of nova scotia for particularly bad weather. but, some weather is so crummy we didnt want to walk the several blocks from our apartment to the gallery and most other weather is not particularly lovely, but reason enough to get out and do other things. anyway, today we bit the bullet and it became art day.

(dave and a comb[?] in front of the art museum; me and a swan[?] in front of the art museum)

the art museum isnt particularly large or filled with famous works, but it does have lots of nova scotian works of pride. for example, they have a full room dedicated to whimsical folk artist maud lewis who was a treasured nova scotian. she was born and lived in extreme poverty near digby. she had severe rheumatoid arthritis as a child which mangled her hands for the rest of her life. but, she found painting to be a joy and started by painting christmas cards with her mother. people loved her bright, happy pastoral creations and started buying slightly larger works. she never became wealthy from her work, but she seemed to have a lot of fun with it. the small 10' x 12' house she shared with her husband was almost completely painted in her cheerful designs.

(photo of maud [note her hands]; a sample of mauds work; this is mauds actual house. tiny and painted. looked like a happy place)

upon being exposed to her paintings when we arrived in nova scotia, it seemed like i had encountered them before, but im not sure. her little scenes are very simple and happy and perhaps are just universally pleasing in a way that makes them familiar whether or not youve actually seen them before. either way, she not only succeeded in creating pleasing images, but, having lived here for a bit now, i find that she also managed to perfectly capture her homeland. the countryside, the winter, the animals, the boats, the churches are all very "nova scotian." just like my naive surprise that the famed french artists were accurately painting the true essence of french life, so too does maud perfectly capture rural maritime life. funny how that works.

anyway, the other wing of the museum was fairly small and crammed with stuff. the top floor had maritime sea, seaside, and fishing industry paintings. meh. interesting as a collection, but to sit and try to cherish each piece individually was not capturing my attention. the floor below was packed with all manner of nova scotian folk art: wood carvings, handmade rugs, samplers, carved and painted furniture, lawn ornaments, home accessories, etc. normally this stuff is somewhat boring to me as well, but the collection captured the energy, focus, and spirit of these maritime people and their lives. plus the colors are so cheerful. finally, the bottom floor was the more contemporary art, including abstract paintings and photography. while this is normally my favorite section, it wasnt as absorbing as the other parts of the museum. many items, i think, were from local artists, so it was a representation of another form of regional expression, but it wasnt as interesting as the folk art to me.

(uhhh...in the nova scotia folk art area, its a wood carved obama family, complete with bo the dog [although his name was misspelled 'bow'])

after touring, we had tea in the museum cafe. it was also here where we had started our visit to the museum. a group of older dutch men had called us over to help orient them on their map of the city. what they were doing vacationing here in february is beyond me. and their opening question was "wheres the city center? every city has one." which made me think that perhaps they were all senile and had mistakenly gotten on a plane that landed in nova scotia.

thus far, we havent really encountered much that could be called a real downtown. there is a business center, a touristy waterfront area, three different university campuses, a shopping/student street, a "seedy" strip, an "alternative" neighborhood drag, a hodge podge rundown road, and historic stuff and restaurant clusters thrown in every so often. so, we tried to advise the men as best as possible. it was also a sunday, so im really not certain what they thought they were going to be able to see and do. strange. oh, and one of the men remarked that he thought i was having a girl.

after our tea, we toured the small museum gift shop. lots of cute stuff including baby onesies with maud lewis designs on the front. but for $24, i couldnt justify it. plus, at that point we wanted to exit the area due a remarkably audible fart emitted from another customer. um...thanks.

14 February 2010

Ice, ice[wine] baby

i was the spectator during a mini booze cruise event for dave today.

so, apparently canada has become a world leader in the icewine field, and nova scotia contributes its own unique flair to the offerings. the annapolis valley (north of us, it starts in wolfville and proceeds west down to approximately digby) supports most, if not all, of the wineries in nova scotia. this year, the first two weeks in february celebrated the icewine festival. while there were events in halifax, the real stuff was occurring at restaurants and the local wineries themselves up in the valley. we decided to go to the source.

(the part of the black line from digby to wolfville is the annapolis valley)

from the list of festival events, we chose one that was free and simple (since i couldnt participate, it didnt make sense to try and attend an oyster and wine pairing, or cheese and wine pairing, etc). we settled on the muir murray winery, the newest in the valley wineries, which is right outside of wolfville.

we arrived during a lull and dave was able to get lots of attention from one of the wine girls. he tried almost all of their wines and enjoyed many. not that i know much about wine, grapes, etc but here is some info on what he tasted (and his rating):

favorite: their "cape split" red wine made from "leon millot" grapes

good: their "summer song" rosé wine made from "marechal foch" grapes, their "orchard view" semi-dry red wine made from "marechal foch" grapes, their "black walnut" red wine made from "leon millot" grapes.

okay: their "atlantic tide" white wine made from "l'acadie" grapes and their "eagle soar" made from "baco noir" grapes.

fair: their "1755 reserve" white wine made from "l'acadie" grapes

and what about their icewine you ask? he really liked it. theirs is called "the solstice" and is made with "vidal" grapes. apparently a true icewine is harvested in the winter after the grapes have had 3 consecutive days on the vine between -8 and -11 celsius (12-17 F). the grapes are then ready for immediate and speedy harvest and apparently "each frozen grape creates just one drop of icewine." bunch for bunch, you get about one-fifth the amount of wine from frozen grapes as you do from normally harvested grapes. thus, the 200ml bottle of icewine we purchased was $26 (compared to the 750ml bottle of "cape split" we also got for $17).

(our purchases)

i am intrigued to try the icewine (one day) as she said that with different dessert options the wine tastes different. she suggested only about 1 oz of icewine per person and a dessert plate filled with chocolate covered berries and sliced pears with bleu cheese spread on them...okay! im there.

with wine purchases in hand, we drove into downtown wolfville to find something else to do since we had made the drive. i was thinking about a soup or dessert or something, but i wasnt quite ready for food yet so we went to paddys irish pub and dave got a beer sampler. keep it flowing man.

he took his time imbibing and we were able to spend a few delightful minutes watching the olympics on the bar tv. thankfully, at home, we are able to get canadian webcasting for pretty much every olympic event on ctv.ca. they are so proud their athletes, i cant help but say its "cute." since skiing was a big part of daves childhood, all things mountain during the winter olympics are a must-see. it was nice having a change of viewing scenery from our apartment.

but, finally he was done and the ski jump event was over. we made our way down main street to the vegetarian lunchbox. so far, weve only had their desserts, but they are great. dave got some coconut chocolate balls and i found the very basic and simple oatcake to be perfect. i would really like to come back for a proper meal there, all the creations on their menu board look great.

12 February 2010

This gang pressed our food button

did another night out at a fancy restaurant with the "dine out" week menu.

this time we didnt have any other errands or engagements, we simply made a reservation and dinner was our only activity for the night. and with three full courses, its about all we could handle. tonight we chose the pricey "press gang" establishment located downtown at the edge of the town square called the "grand parade" which is midway in the line from the city high point of citadel hill down to the waterfront. framing one side of the grand parade is the citys oldest building, a church built in 1750. interestingly, the press gang is located in the citys second oldest building, built in 1759.

anyway, on to the grub. their dine out menu was $45 per person and had some mouthwatering choices we were excited to try. upon arrival, we were seated in a tiny alcove that only housed our little table for two. kinda nice.

so, for starters, dave had a garrison imperial i.p.a. by his side as we shared the "ranchero acres goat cheese tart filled with boar bacon and valley mushrooms topped with arugula and fresh shoot salad" and the surprise delight of the night the "roast chili crab cake topped with pickled onion and market apple slaw with side of avocado yogurt." both were very good. the tart had a good balance of flavors, neither the goat cheese nor the bacon were overwhelming and the crisp of greens on top was a nice finish. but, i guess since the tart tasted as expected, it wasnt as much of a winner as the crab cakes. neither of us has ever voluntarily ordered crab cakes. they always look boring and dry to me and it seems like an easy way to skimp on crab meat and mash a bunch of cheap ingredients together. not so! these crab cakes were crispy on the outside yet packed with lots of moist and spicy flavor on the inside. the pickled onions would normally turn me off but they jazzed up the spice even further while the divine avocado yogurt helped cool everything down. well-paired appetizer. off to a good start.

(the goat cheese, mushroom, bacon tart)

for main dishes, i got the "northumberland lamb shank braised in marechal foch wine with spiced squash puree and roasted beets." im not sure ive ever had that cut of lamb before. it was rich and kinda pot roast-y and felt like a very manly dish. the side of spiced squash puree tasted like belated thanksgiving, i ate it all! and for dave, he ordered the "chicken breast stuffed with roast thigh and smoked shallots, fox hill cheddar roesti, and dried cranberry jus." while the chicken was delightfully moist, the stuffing and cranberry jus were not overly impressive or memorable. the roesti, however, was a nice little crispy hash brown pancake that tasted like potato chips. yum.

(the lamb shank with squash puree)

to finish off, dessert. i ordered the "blueberry panna cotta with nova scotia blueberry, honey, and shortbread cookies." it was a much lighter panna cotta than ive had before and the blueberry taste was so mild that dave didnt even find it to be distinctively fruit flavored. the honey drizzled shortbread was a tasty treat to round out this creation. and dave, he ordered off the regular restaurant menu (since we didnt want an espresso cake, the other "dine out" menu option) the "lavender crème brûlée with icewine marinated berries." this one was less memorable than my dessert. the lavender flavor disappeared after a few bites, leaving it tasting like plain crème brûlée. i would expect a top tier restaurant to buy quality lavender to do the dessert properly, or, if they did that, then i would expect them to know how to handle it and create a dish that was adequately infused with the flavor. if the local ice cream wizard, dee dees, can make a mean lavender ice cream, i expect this place to be able to do a crème brûlée.

(the blueberry panna cotta with honey and shortbread cookies)

so, if it seems like i was a little bit in heaven and a little bit whiny about the food...you would be correct. for me, and for the price, i would expect to come away with more than just a few memorable winners in the form of a surprise awesome crab cake appetizer and yummy main dish sides (the squash puree and roesti). plus, i had to go pee while we were there and their bathrooms were markedly sub-par. the facilities were akin to those found in a cheap and greasy mexican joint. bathrooms mean a lot to me, you may recall i remark on them often, and this one just wasnt cutting it. finish off the evening with a loud and obnoxious bunch of ENT (ear, nose, throat) medical residents seated right near us and the evening ended up being a stalemate. we were glad the dine out menu allowed us to come and afford the evening out, but we werent inspired to come back and pay full price for our meal. for our money, five fishermen was the winner.

The Press Gang on Urbanspoon

11 February 2010

No nippy the tippy

picked up an interesting tidbit at the prenatal gathering tonight...about circumcision.

so, boobs had their day in the sun and now the wang gets some exposure. since something like 75% of our group is having a boy, there was much chatter about all things male. one thing i tuned in to was the topic of circumcision (why not, how fascinating?). apparently, in general, its not very common for boys/men to be circumcised in canada.

this perhaps is a result of several things, but, notably, "non-therapeutic male neonatal circumcision" is not covered by the public medicare system in any of the canadian provinces. while in the hospital, no new mother is asked if she would like her son to have the procedure. if, however, you want it for personal or religious reasons you can request it and they will do it (at your cost). interesting and good to know.

10 February 2010

Healthcare corner #6 - General effectiveness measurement and current controversies

missed class last week because i had a cold :( but i didnt miss anything in terms of content on the canadian health system. and this week was about effectiveness, in general, so it was still light on canadian-specific info.

so, effectiveness is "the degree to which attainable improvements in health are, in fact, attained." and it appears that there isnt really a mapped out system to collect, monitor, maintain, or report on large scale/national level effectiveness. this may be due to the fact that it would be too costly, time consuming, and/or statistically confusing (because the federal government only sends funds to the provinces who then create separate and specific health care systems for their citizens).

but, there is data availability on the smaller scale. provinces, regional health authorities (RHAs), hospitals, doctors, and research scientists may (and do) collect, maintain, and report on statistics that help them guide health policy and monitor the outcomes of the health system.

here are some policy strategies available to help improve the effectiveness of a health system:
1. medical practice guidelines, such as the canadian task force on preventive health care, are produced by summarizing research findings to suggest best practices for doctors and hospitals (fyi, there is also a u.s. version of this type of site).

2. health planning and reporting. there is no large canadian version of this, but, for example there is a u.s. version that uses the national medicare patient database to report on. its called the dartmouth atlas of health care (my friend meg mentioned this in an earlier comment). for a more palatable "regular person" synthesis of some of their data try this new york times graphic.

3. routine population health reporting, such as the health indicators project, supplies data on general health outcomes for the country and provinces (c-sections rates, rates of heart attacks/stroke/etc).

4. systematic review libraries, such as the cochrane collaboration (summarizes individual medical research studies into one review per topic to find out what really works and what doesnt) and the campbell collaboration (summarizes individual social policy studies into one review per topic to find out what really works and what doesnt).

while these sites are more for the medical/scientific community, they do produce a very short summary blurb to help most regular people get the gist of the results. if you are interested, you can browse the topics on, for example, the cochrane site and find things like "how well do birth control pills work to treat facial acne?"
some current canadian health controversies in the news, for your reading pleasure:
- scandal...the premier of newfoundland/labrador went to u.s. for heart surgery.

- yikes, pelvic exams! my coworker told me about this globe and mail article exposing a frequent canadian medical practice of letting medical students practice pelvic exams on women who are knocked out under general anesthesia for surgery such as hysterectomies, tubal ligation, etc. these women are not consented for this pelvic exam and arent told it was done to them afterward. awesome. glad to see in the article that at least the u.s. doesnt do this.

09 February 2010

FASCC 3 - minato sushi

our sushi club has grown!

this week we ("we" i guess technically being dave and matthias) added another american and an indian to our group. this time we chose minato sushi. they actually have one of the few korean menus in town, along with their sushi. after noting that the cost of my normal yam tempura roll was $11 (!) i decided to try a different dinner option. i actually ended up picking a korean soup (i think it was called "man du duk") which was a vegetable soup with an egg, dumplings, and rice. i ended up eating everything in front of me, so it was pretty good. it did leave me feeling like i normally do after chinese wonton soup though...kinda like the broth was too salty/greasy for how healthy the dish seems.

(my soup. the snotty looking stuff is the egg. appetizing right?)

as for dave, he couldnt make up his mind and was also tempted by the korean menu. he did get a sushi hybrid though, as he ended up with a korean sashimi salad. so he got slices of sushi grade tunas and salmon. to get his eel fix, he did order a bbq eel roll as well (forgetting to omit the nasty cucumbers). he was rather underwhelmed with his food and the freshness of the sushi. nothing can compare to the clubs unofficial "first time": he and matthias continually put doraku on the pedestal (which i agree with, but its funny how there is always mention of doraku after the meal).

as for the others are the table, matthias ordered his typical nigiri, sashimi menagerie. while the newcomers mixed things up: one ordered a mini matthias menagerie (as im now calling it) with a side of kimchi (spicy korean cabbage). the other person ordered the yummy korean dish of bi bim bap. it came in a hot stone bowl with the raw egg on top. once you poked the egg and mixed the bowl up everything was cooked together. fun and tasty (try some back home in ann arbor at the random Kosmo diner counter in kerrytown)!

(matthias menagerie platter; bi bim bap before the egg is poked and cooked)

anyway, the growing group is nice because there was talk of other cuisines. since we only have about 5 more sushi places in town to hit up, perhaps we will get a chance to branch out to other food types. such a great way to learn. even if you dont get to sample other peoples dishes you still get to see what is out there and if they liked it and why, so you can teach yourself about other food options and have the courage to try something different next time.

06 February 2010

Big boobs munro

thanks to a random university holiday, i was able to check out a local breastfeeding group.

its probably borderline blasphemous to mention the savior of dalhousie in the same sentence as a pair of knockers, but im going with it. university workers and students got today off to honor george munro, a famous canadian publisher who donated enough money back in the day to keep the university from closing. his huge gesture is honored by a huge gesture from the university to give everyone the first friday in february off, paid. pretty cool.

so, not having to go to work, i was freed up for the day. the nurtured baby store has a regular friday breastfeeding group which meets from 1-3p. naturally anyone who is not a stay at home mom coping with a newborn and the challenges of breastfeeding wouldnt be able to attend this mid-day time slot. and, while i have some time before i need to deal with this topic, i thought today was a good day just to go check the group out. ive heard/read several people say that getting pre-birth breastfeeding knowledge and tips would have been vital to helping them establish confidence and know-how for when reality hit.

the group is lead by a local doula who has 5 kids of her own. the woman has experienced probably every breastfeeding woe known to motherkind, including having thrush with every child and mastitis 15 times! plus, it was great to hear from the other moms who came. there were 3 of us who were pregnant (and were there to absorb info) and there were 2 other moms besides the doula.

the one first-time mom had a 10 week old who had only recently started to feed properly. this lady had a 30 hour labor, followed by an undesired c-section, and then had to endure 6 weeks of attempting to get her son to breastfeed! wow. and she had enormous boobs that came equipped with their own problems. she had mastitis once and had had to deal with all the fun sounding issues related to inverted nipples. while she was dealing with breast and nipple problems, her son wasnt a fast learner on how to feed himself. they had to start with finger feedings (taping a tiny feeding tube to your finger that is attached to a syringe full of milk. you teach the baby how to suck on your finger and they learn that milk comes from this action.) and then move to cup feedings (you put a small cup full of milk up to a babys lower lip. tilting the cup slightly to get the milk near them, you wait for their tongue to move out and they use it to lap up the milk, like a cat. the pressure on the lip teaches them the cue to then use their tongue to get milk into their mouth.).

finally, there was another mom there with her second child. she was determined to breastfeed her daughter because she had given up with her son previously. she too had nipple problems as well as baby latching issues. whenever she has tried to get the doula to help, her daughter has been asleep. this happened today too. she tried for a while to gently wake her up, but she never became active enough to attempt it. bummer.

a walk-away piece of advice for women having problems was to consult the canadian breastfeeding guru, dr jack newman (what!? a man!). he apparently has a clinic in toronto and is constantly turned to for help, advice, etc. he has some books and a website (complete with videos to actually show some tips), and apparently he personally responds to email questions/concerns. typically he does this in a very timely fashion, even in the middle of the night! good to know. and...now ive filled your boob/nipple quota for the week/year/lifetime.

04 February 2010

Nessie news - 27 weeks

27 weeks. we are now viable, and done with the second trimester! feels like it took forever, but the part where i have felt comfortable seems like it has gone too quickly. we'll see how long the final trimester feels.

(z bump; developmental cross-section)

dr appt:
gained only 3 pounds!! good blood pressure (95/65). urine was fine. babys heartbeat was good. got the paperwork for the blood test for: hemoglobin (iron levels), Rh factor (to make sure my body doesnt attack the baby. more important for pregnancies after the first one.), and the gestational diabetes glucose test. asked for and got a referral to hypnotherapy. someone in the prenatal group mentioned this. its free with this referral and hopefully the guy can give me some relaxation techniques or visualizations for labor. i figured it wouldnt hurt to check it out. ive been happy with my other referrals so far. and, now i graduate to doctor visits every 2 weeks. moving along!

symptom update:
1. monster movements. NUMEROUS! id say measuring when the kid isnt moving is more useful at this point. since my last dr visit, i had maybe one or two days where monster wasnt moving as much as normal, and i was like, come on, dont scare your mom, get active! be careful what you wish for! favorite active times: right before i go to bed and before i want to wake up. oh, and while im peeing. its really fun to be performing a bodily function and get kicked at the same time. movements no longer feel like the blind fish in a fish bowl, they feel like fireworks. or, well, they did until recently. now i can actually feel body parts jutting out. sometimes it feels like monster is pushing off one side of my hip bone and making impact on the other side of my belly button. and some mornings, the jabs are getting dangerously close to my ribs. joy. plus, one of the websites mentioned "tiny rhythmic movements" as being baby hiccups. all kinds of action going on!

2. in general, im still feeling pretty good. i have a slightly higher frequency of difficult-to-sleep nights, but i expect that. during the day, i can still do everything, sometimes occasionally forgetting im pregnant. there is difficulty getting socks on though. and while walking to work i still find i have plenty of energy, but sometimes i notice its harder to heft my weight up the hill as quickly or easily as i would like. so, im slowing down. we'll see how much i waddle toward the end.

3. oops, i peed. okay, heres a good one. so in the first trimester the hormones are wacking everything out and occasionally i would get caught off guard and sneeze and...yeah, i peed a little. fabulous. that makes me feel attractive. bladder control is something you dont think about until you have issues with it. luckily, the lack of control went away and for many weeks i was normal again. now with this added weight, im back to having sneezes catch me off guard and...pee. awesome. shall i buy Depends? how poetic, a woman wearing diapers gives birth to a newborn who requires diapers, who grows up to be an old person who may die wearing diapers. diapers in all major milestones of life...

4. baby dream. again just one dream in the past month. in this one, i had a baby girl and we took her on vacation (by "we" i mean myself and my hubby, my freshman high school crush named dustin...swoon, he looked like jake ryan). we were carrying her around in her car seat. we had a long way to go. at some point i noticed that she had spit up all over. when we finally arrived at our destination, i changed her and started feeding her. she spit up again. i noticed that she had somehow swallowed a pacifier. without thinking about it, i frantically reached into her mouth and started grabbing it and gouging her mouth to get it out. she puked a lot because i was making her gag, but i finally got it out. i cleaned her up and fed her again and let her nap. the end.

5. symptoms i havent had, yet. i mention these not to brag, but to take note. i wonder how many will show up in the final months. time will tell. thus far, i have not: vomited, had bad acne, formed a linea nigra (the brown central line many women get down their bellies) or a "pregnancy mask", developed stretch marks, experienced leaky boobs, been constipated, had to deal with hemorrhoids, or seen an enlargement in the early spider/varicose veins i had pre-pregnancy. and who says pregnancy isnt sexy?

1. i wanted to point out that even the minor changes the nutritionist suggested for me took a week to adjust to. i had to modify a few snack items and monitor the clock a little better for when i was eating. that was about it. but to adjust meant i had to think about it on a conscious level, and i discovered that having to think about food with a set of rules sucks (i can now assume this is how many dieters feel). you are forced to have food on the brain, but with restrictions. in defiance, it seemed, my brain and body were like "eat, eat, eat. come on you can cheat. you are hungry, hungry, hungry!" but i stuck with it and in a little less than a week, my body had adjusted to the new food expectations and i am fine. i am not always thinking about it, and better yet, i am not always feeling hungry!

2. so, last weekend we got some shelves for the apartment to make better use of our space and make room for some of monsters new things. this was motivated by the fact that the stroller arrived! we did end up getting the urban mountain buggy. tried to find it used, but no one had it or anything else to our liking available. but we were able to find a store in quebec selling discounted brand new strollers with free shipping. only thing was that they are two year old models. but who cares, they are still a solid product made in new zealand. and it was like $200 off. plus, the lady threw in the additional newborn baby carrying cot stroller attachment for like $150 off. good stuff. monster is totally decked out now. and it seems really easy to use. out of the box we put the tires on and the thing was good to go. we taught ourselves all the features and even switched the regular seat out for the carry cot and back to the regular seat, getting everything down pat in less than an hour.

(monsters pimp ride)

3. if i havent mentioned it before, i will mention now that monster is a future canadian citizen...who will then also obtain american citizenship. i was able to get all the confirmed details from governmental friend extraordinaire, ntina. :) for canadas purposes, monster will be born here and instantly be a canadian. a canadian birth certificate will be available with which i will be able to apply for american citizenship and an american passport at the same time (and who says government always does things inefficiently?). this however must be done in person, with monster...ah, theres the catch.

since we will be crossing the border with monster approximately 2 months after he/she is born (for the celini/travis wedding!), we will need some ID in a timely fashion. it is possible that the u.s. side of things could be speedy enough to get us monsters american documentation, but i have been told that it shouldnt be a problem to enter the u.s. with a baby with a canadian birth certificate even if both parents have u.s. passports. since our names will be listed as the parents, i guess they will not then freak out that we are stealing a kid (apparently we could also get something called the "consular report of birth abroad" which under the western hemisphere travel initiative [WHTI] is as good as a birth certificate). so it seems like we will be fine. im glad i had the answers "verified by experts" though. :)

another piece of info: "beginning june 1, 2009, u.s. and canadian citizen children under age 16 arriving by land or sea from contiguous territory may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a consular report of birth abroad, a naturalization certificate, or a canadian citizenship card."

celebrity corner:
1. model claudia schiffer is due in may with her third child.

2. actress sarah chalke recently had her son, but i read a short article on her pregnancy and she sounds down-to-earth and somewhat similar to me. its nice to know a few actor-types seem semi-sane.

03 February 2010

Delectable dining and dirty laundry

tonight we mixed fancy and ordinary in a whirlwind 2.5 hours.

dilemma: dave got home from work too tired to cook anything major. we needed to hit the laundromat tonight but we needed food first. we knew we wanted to do a "dine out" week restaurant for dinner one night this week, but if we ate out tonight, then we would be eating out again a couple days later...what to do...

solution: we ended up hurriedly bundling the laundry together and driving down to our dine out week restaurant of choice, the five fishermen. its the established fancy seafood joint in town that students take their parents to for special occasions. it routinely wins "best seafood" honors and they had a delectable $40 per person prix fixe menu (which is way more affordable than most of the stuff on their regular menu). we thought now was the best, if not only, time to try the place.

being a tuesday night meant i wasnt worried about not having reservations. we arrived and were seated in a beautiful historic-looking room with brick walls, dark wood tables and booths, shiny metal handrails, and white tablecloths. so far so good.

since we had perused the menu before, we were able to order right away, which helped save us time and also served to show our waitress that we were freaks. the first course was the same for both of us, their mussels and salad bar. the restaurant has a devoted space to this first course that is offered with every one of their entrees. granite counter tops envelope a boatload of salad types: corn salad, bulgar salad, cous cous salad, greek salad, potato salad, fruit salad, mixed greens with dressing options and additional sides of olives, artichokes, tomatoes. and im sure theres more but you get the idea. plus, theres a separate area for the mussel bar.

i had a yummy taster plate of a variety of salads while dave made a small plate of simple mixed greens and olives...saving stomach room for the mussel bar. with your mussel pile you could choose from 4 different sauces. dave chose the red pepper sauce. upon eating his appetizer, he declared he finally had had some decent mussels since leaving europe.

our main course was the driver for why i wanted to come; however, oddly enough, neither of us ordered seafood. i ordered the "bison tenderloin wellington with wild mushroom duxelle, creamy mashed potatoes and dragons breath cream sauce." it was really good and just what i wanted, something wrapped in a puff pastry. :) i couldnt finish it all though because monster now rules how much dense food i can intake at any one time. dave paired his glass of nova scotian white wine (a '06 sigfried from sainte-famille wines) with the "moroccan spiced nova scotia lamb rack served with israeli couscous and sweet potato scented with cumin & coriander" (btw, the lamb with white wine pairing was the waitress' suggestion). the spices of his dish were fantastic, which explains why he scraped his plate clean.

(my bison wellington plate; daves lamb couscous plate)

to top off our tummies, i got the raspberry pot de crème with coconut macaroon dessert and dave got the simple but tasty double chocolate brownie sundae. neither choice was too sweet and both were great. yay, meal success! we hurriedly paid (we spent less than 1.5 hours there) and got to the laundromat in time to do all four loads before they closed. im glad we got both tasks accomplished, but i would have enjoyed a slower meal.

i am not sure how likely we are to get back, seeing as how regular entrees alone are between $35-60, but the waitress did say (after i asked) that you can come in and just do the salad and mussel bar for $19 (this is not listed on their menu). i also heard mention of some lobster mashed potatoes...i wonder if they would sell those to me as a side...dare to dream. but, round one of dine out week was a hit. so im happy. :)

02 February 2010

Physiotherapy assessment

had my physiotherapy appt today for my pelvis.

reviewed my issue with the lady and she checked me out. she said the good thing was that all my joints are moving symmetrically together so at least i am not overly irritating just one side. she also mentioned that all the actions and stretches ive been doing to try and combat the issue myself have been good, now we need to add to that.

the area she found i need to work on is my lower abs. in some kind of cruel joke, i have to try and strengthen that area, in my third trimester. ugh. apparently the pelvis joint is quite vulnerable. its like the one joint area in the body that has no direct protection from a muscle and so if something is wrong with that area, its not like other joints where you can strength train a series of muscles around the area and get relief. even with this ab work i am only likely to make things better, not gone. thats fine i guess, better is good.

basically my ab issue is that during pregnancy the sheet of ab muscles (the ones that make the 6 pack) get stretched...duh. for some people this stretching gets to the point where the mid-line starts separating. there are varying degrees of severity during pregnancy and varying levels of post-pregnancy recovery. for me, she said my upper and middle abs are good, but my lower abs are coming apart, they arent yet at the stage where she would call it diastasis (the medical term for the separation) but that is why i need to do the exercises. plus, she said monster is riding kinda low, and maybe the exercises will encourage monster to move up a bit and take some more pressure off my pelvis.

(medical diagram of the problem)

so it was a helpful appointment and hopefully the exercises will work to provide some relief.

01 February 2010

Sloppy soupy bang bang

soup sundays took a turn for the worse today.

dave was in the kitchen preparing my next mouthwatering soup selection: red lentil soup with lime and spinach. during early preparations, the heavenly scents wafting out of the kitchen were getting me excited. and then came time for the blender part...and it all went downhill from there...

dave puts part of the soup in the blender. dave turns blender on. dave gets hot soup blown all over his arm, and then some. see me come into the kitchen. see me tell dave to get his arm under cold water while i survey the scene...it looks like a troop of babies got in my kitchen and projectile vomited all over everything. lentil soup is all over the counter, the stove, the wall, the floor, and dave is splatter painted in it. this crap stains so i got to work immediately wiping up as much as i could as fast as i could. dave is cursing at himself and despising the food. but, 10-15 minutes later things are cleaned up and i am still hopeful. the smell of lentils and cilantro are winning me over.

dave tries the blender step again. this time with less soup. blender goes on. then off. i hear swearing. i come back in. i point to the sink to deal with his arm again and i get to work cleaning the same shit i just cleaned 15 minutes ago. somehow i dont freak out or yell. if i had had the presence of mind, i would have taken a picture. but this was a serious situation and i was focused. miraculously, i got the kitchen back to almost normal (although, when they have to move that stove out one day...ew). in the end, we ordered pizza and dave didnt punch a hole through the wall. id say things didnt turn out as bad as they could have. i still really want that soup. but i think the lesson learned is: buy a stick blender.

after pizza, i sent dave out to the hart and thistle brewery for beer trivia night. he needed to drown his sorrows with the geology folk and i needed to rest. they won two free rounds of beer though, so he really did benefit from going!