24 October 2010

Hot air 15 - Scraps of "culture" in a post-momma world

so, ive been at this mom thing for half a year now and post-X ive been making a list of the few things that have entered my realm that might possibly be construed as "culture." its a small collection of the new tastes, sights, experiences ive had of late but im hoping it will grow as i get the hang of this new life.

food/recipes:
- a zucchini, goat cheese appetizer: after purchasing his new calphalon grill pan, dave was on the lookout for some fun things to make besides meat. these things were tasty and simple.
- a rice, fruit, chicken salad: on occasional sundays we have the time and ingredients to make a hearty salad that can last me several lunches throughout the week. this recipe was extra yum because it was prepared by naked chef dave. good story, he started the rice for the salad and got in the shower while i was putting X to sleep. he forgot to get his underwear or any other clothes out of the bedroom beforehand. after his shower, X was asleep. he didnt want to open the door and risk waking her up...thus, this recipe was made almost entirely by dave in the buff. and no, there were no pubes in my salad.
- a black bean, chicken salad: it also would have been good as burrito filling. dave had clothes on when he made this one. ;)
-oatmeal chocolate chip cookies: simple but wonderful recipe we found one night when we decided to make cookies at 10p...since X was keeping us up until 1a.

tv:
not much excitement here since we barely have 3 minutes to rub together at any one time. we mostly catch on-line episodes of the daily show (im also guilty of using it as my only/main u.s. news source), but recently we found a streaming web-channel of HGTV. that channel is almost harmfully addictive. i could probably stare at the screen watching it until my brain liquefied. thankfully i have X to drag my attention away. lol.

in other tv news, this summer the "live with regis and kelly" show came to PEI (prince edward island) to film for 4 days (july 12-15). apparently the province paid $1 million to bring the show to them, in an effort to boost tourism. so it made for some news around here.

movies:
haha. havent had much time for these either, but i do find ways to watch pieces of movies throughout the day (while nursing, while sitting in bed when X naps, while eating, etc.). unfortunately nearly every movie ive made time for has been dull and/or disappointing. i guess my standards/expectations are higher since my time is so precious?

the only thing worth mentioning is the documentary "art & copy" about the brains behind successful ad campaigns of the past. normally i dislike advertising people, but this wasnt about attacking the messages they send, this was about how their artistic minds work to create the successful campaigns that sold Nike, milk, beef, VWs, Macs, etc. i always like climbing inside creative peoples minds for a while and hearing about their process. this movie fed that desire.

books:
while napping with X i was able to enjoy a decent amount of the short stories in "when you are engulfed in flames" by david sedaris. not his favorite book of mine, but i did chuckle at most of the stories written about life in france.

new yorker articles:
i read every issue in my year-long subscription (during X naps). and now it has ended. so you can all rest easy, you wont have to see this section anymore. probably.

-brief review of a play i would love to see. a musical called "american idiot" with music by green day. doesnt sound like the typical "mamma mia" or "we will rock you" anthology-type production.
-brief blurb about the architect who designed several of the NYC Apple stores.
-brief comic piece paralleling the recent college grad with infant care.
-brief blurb mentioning another broadway play i'd like to see ("bloody, bloody andrew jackson") and a cool sounding comedy show ("find the funny").
-brief blurb about americans financial illiteracy.
-brief commentary about immigration reform. interesting.

-short review of an art show of yves klein works with a short rundown about the artist himself. pretty interesting.
-short article about some awesome new playgrounds in NYC. one is going to be designed by frank gehry. looks like future trips will involve some momma research for kick ass playgrounds. X is a lucky kid.
-short article about the horrendous, nightmarish traffic that plagues moscow. frightening and stress inducing just to read about. also, makes me never want to visit.
-short comic piece from david sedaris about airplane travel. good stuff.
-short article about a new parking structure in miami that is groundbreaking in its architectural style. im really learning a lot from the short architecture articles in the new yorker.

-longer article chronicling the authors adoption of a haitian girl post-earthquake. very interesting. sounds like adoption is more complicated and heart-wrenching that i even imagined.
-longer article about julian assange, the man behind the website "wikileaks.org" that securely posts documents/information sent in by anonymous whistleblowers worldwide about governments, companies, etc.
-long article profiling actor/comedian steve carell
-long article about the need for doctors and terminally ill patients to have open discussions about end-of-life care. well written. brought a tear to my eye. also, if anyone cares, this topic is one small branch of what i was working on at my dalhousie job before i went on mat leave.

16 October 2010

Nocturne-al immersion

got to stroll through a unique halifax experience: outdoor art installations, at night.

the third annual nocturne: art at night project happened in halifax tonight. we missed it last year because dave was in portland, i was preggo (and thus feeling like crap), and nutmeg was having butt problems that required attention. but this year a high concentration of artsy things were occurring just down the street from us and i was determined not to miss it.

the event was going on from 6p-midnight and X had spent the last few nights keeping us up late, so i thought "perfect, if she stays up late, we can see lots of these installations. win, win." so before dave started dinner we popped out at 6p for a quick peak at the closest art stations. we saw a circus troupe doing some warm-up fire dancing, we tried to find something billed as a "giant baby mobile" but of course we had no luck. we did catch an artist who was on exhibit literally mopping up a puddle of her own tears though. but everything else we tried to see (something called "free parking," a facebook exhibit, a glimpse into the inner workings of a local postal initiative) was just not up and running yet. damn artists, not a punctual bunch.

so, after dinner, we went out again. we got to see more fire dancing but now barrington st was very crowded and almost too busy to really get up close to see the other exhibits. so we went down to the waterfront installations. my favorite one of the night was a tall white box thing that had an accordion air bladder attached to a horn that faced out onto the water (#32, The Same Boat Horn). you pulled a handle to fill it with air and then leaned on the bladder to push a somber-sounding cry out of the horn onto the dark and quiet waters. very affecting. although, at one point, dave and X went around to the horn side to check it out when i was just starting to push on it and X got spooked by the loud noise and started crying. and we were done with that one.

the facebook installation was also on the waterfront but it wasnt very impressive so we headed back up toward home. one block from us, at the jazz east location, they were having an art exhibition, live music, and free charcoal portrait sketches. X really seemed to like the acoustic drum/bass music so we stayed until they took a break, at which point it was clear she was very ready for bed. this was 9p. there were still lots of interesting live street performances to come but of course this was the one night of her recent sleepless stint that she didnt stay up late (and by late, i mean 1a). oh well, at least we got to experience a little of the energy of the night. it was the kind of thing i thought was perfect for halifax and made me happy to live here.

04 October 2010

D-not underestimate the power of a relaxing weekend with a friend

back from our MI visit in time to welcome good friend ntina to town!

i met ntina (pronounced dee-nah) in college, she was a few doors down from my (and georgettes) room in our sophomore year dorm. we later lived in a big house together (senior year) and have been visiting each other ever since she moved away from MI. we have done chicago, DC, virginia beach, boston, st louis, florida, nashville, new orleans, NYC (am i missing any?) together, and, her and ben (her partner) came to see us in france. now she adds halifax to the list (ben was off traveling for work so we missed him). i would (almost) stake my life on the fact that she would visit us in an igloo in greenland, should we ever be so unfortunate as to live there. :) we are so grateful that she is willing to come, wherever we are, and make the most of the weather, the local activities (or lack thereof), and the new lifestyle(s) we find ourselves in.

her flight brought her to us on friday (a little delayed) and dave was able to pick her up. we promptly headed over to janes next door to get some tasty sandwiches and treats to fill our bellies. once consumed, ntina brought out the baby gifts. the lady rarely ever passes on an opportunity to pick out something special for the people she loves and we are always welcome recipients. X got some new books and new clothes (a "mommys monster" onesie and a "babys first thanksgiving" onesie [because its my favorite holiday], plus a white fleece bear suit for the cold weather).


(X and ntina)

then we headed over to her hotel to get her settled. we chatted until X needed a nap and then walked back to the apartment. while X was asleep, we went out for a walk by the water to get a brief view of the city. when we got back, our minds were already turned toward dinner.

i had told ntina that the weather in late september is iffy and with X not liking the car...we might not get to give her a real visit/experience of nova scotia. she said she totally understood and was coming for the company, not the scenery. bottom line. so...i tried to relax about being a tour guide. but, one thing i knew we could do was to satisfy the foodie in all of us and expose her to some of our favorite things here and to brave some new restaurants with her.

before dinner, we headed in the direction of davids tea. my new obsession. they have half a wall of loose leaf teas that are decaf (herbals and rooibos varieties) and i am in love with their "mint chocolate rooibos." after making our drink selections we headed over to the bbq joint we wanted to try called "Q," as in bbQ. it seemed like an odd choice, being so far away from the traditional bbq region of the american south, but we had read good reviews.

thus, we entered at our own risk, but were pleasantly surprised. the atmosphere is perfect for a bbq place (order at the counter, casual dining, brick and old wood on the walls, a big basin near the trash for washing your sticky hands) and the menu has all the options id want, except perhaps greens. we all ordered (me: pulled chicken sandwich, dave: half chicken and ribs, ntina: beef brisket) and took our food up to ntinas hotel room which was right around the corner. the food was good and her room was large so we had a nice time eating, talking, relaxing until we took X home to sleep.

on saturday we woke up ready to shuffle through the crowded farmers market in search of more foodie goodies. we started with a snack of vegetable tamales and a soft pretzel, and then purchased fresh apple cider, a pumpkin muffin, some goat cheese with cayenne and garlic, spinach pies, pita bread, fresh bread loaves, strawberries, and haddock...to be consumed later that day.

after carting it all home, we busted into the stash for lunch. the cider was a highlight for me. yum. couldnt have any last year since usually the good stuff is unpasteurized. made me kinda sad though that there arent cider mills with donuts around here. :( anyway, after hanging out a bit we all retired to take some naps before the UM football game. watching the game alone on the computer has always been tolerable for us, but with another person it just didnt feel like we were getting into the football spirit without a big tv and couch lounging area. oh well. and the night kinda fizzled from there. while dave was making a tunisian fish soup for dinner ntina got a bad headache. she ended up going home to sleep it off and we ended the night alone, with warm bowls of surprisingly decent soup.


(watching the UM game. X is wearing the gift jen and james got her)

sunday was our last day with ntina and for some unknown reason X decided it would be cool to wake up at 4:30a. needless to say, we all started off the day feeling kinda crummy. but, since our list of "must dos" was blank, we took it easy and didnt push ourselves. we just hung out until we felt up for brunch.

my brunch suggestion was to try the new restaurant "MIX fresh kitchen." i had really been wanting pancakes for about...6 months, but i hadnt wanted to waste the time and dirty the kitchen with them so i was pretty amped to get out and feed the craving. the restaurant turned out to have a nice atmosphere and the food was decent (me and ntina had pancakes with local blueberries and dave had a brioche grilled cheese), but nothing mind blowing.


(sitting like a big girl at brunch)

then we walked off some of the carbs along the waterfront and everyone took a food coma nap. but, after that, we were all feeling much better and were looking forward to the end of the day. we had a nice walk in point pleasant park before enjoying daves classic mexican dinner. we were able to wind down and just relax to end the day. and then, after a night walk with X, we said goodbye and thank you to ntina.


(parting shot)

so, while we didnt give her a whirlwind tour of the city, get her out to any of the nearby beautiful towns, or do anything particularly "unique," i will say that we had a fantastically terrific time with ntina. we did try some new restaurants and i hope she did get a little glimpse of the city. but mostly it was just as she said it would be, a visit more about the company than the surroundings, even though all of us were at times sick and/or tired. thanks for a good relaxing weekend ntin. ;)