Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Five: Home Decor Edition

Will Smama over at the Revgals is in the middle of her first home purchase, and invites us this morning to think about renovating and decorating in the Friday Five!

1) If you could, what room in the place you are currently living would you redo first?

BATHROOM! We only have one and it has a funny lay out and some weird paint colours. I'd like to redo it in the classic early 20th century style, with light colours and a black and white checkered floor.

2) What is the most hideous feature/color/decor item you have ever seen in a home?

When we moved into the Wee House, the living and dining room were painted a very dark orange colour. It was so harsh that it actually affected our mood. When we got the first coat of primer on, we both felt much less angry. Also, the bedrooms were goosesh*t yellow.

3) What feature do you most covet? Do you have it? If not, is it within reach?

I would love to have a walk-in closet that would afford me the space to build and grow the kind of classic wardrobe that I want to have. This won't happen in our current house, but is likely to happen if we move this summer! Yay!

4) Your kitchen - love it or hate it? Why?

LOVE IT. We renovated our kitchen a little more than a year ago, and I love it even more every day. We added counter and cupboard space (lots!), we put in an over-the-stove microwave, we painted a beautiful dark rich red colour and we put in a dishwasher. I think it's beautiful.

5) Here is $10,000 and you HAVE to spend it on the place you are living now. What do you do?

See above, re: bathroom.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Choir Sections Part 1

I've wanted to do a blog series for a while now that talked about the defining characteristics (and characters) of the eight sections of a standard choir. And I say eight sections because I believe that second sopranos are different from first sopranos, basses are different from baritones, etc. Obviously, there are differences between professional choirs and community choirs and church choirs, but there are some distinct similarities too!

So I'd like to start my survey at the "bottom" with the basses.

I've heard it said that double-bass players in an orchestra love their job. I think the same applies for choral basses.

Basses love what they do. Most of the basses that I've had the pleasure of knowing love being the root of the choral sound, the pedal point, the foundation. There's a consistency and a comfort to the traditional bass sound that is, from a witnesses point of view, as pleasant to sing as it is to hear.

Despite the love, Basses often present an outward persona of gruffness and disapproval. Don't mind them; they don't mean it.

Basses tend towards suspicion of music that asks them to sing up in their high range or even worse, falsetto, because it takes them out of their comfortable rooted place in the deep low range. After all, that's what we have baritones and second tenors for, right?

Basses live for singing KING OF KINGS in the Hallelujah chorus.

I have never sung in a choir that didn't have at least one deaf bass. Often, there are TWO deaf basses who sit next to each other and try to help each other out. This is not productive.

Basses are the section most likely to keep singing when the conductor signals a stop in the rehearsal, but Basses need, and love, a conductor who cues well.

Basses are the singers most likely to have mustaches.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trader Tuesdays

Honestly, I can't think of anything today. I made a great mushroom and sausage stew last week that was fantastic, but I want to make sure I get the proportions right because the recipe came from the WW 20-minutes meal cookbook, so quantities are important. Look for that next week, I hope...

In the meantime... are you the kind of person that keeps old bananas in your freezer waiting to bake something with them? I am that kind of person. Except, I don't usually get around to the second part, i.e. the baking something. So I'm looking for inspiration. What do you do with the rotten bananas in your freezer??????

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Five: Cabin Fever

Today's Friday Five from Singing Owl is all about the long dreary days of winter. She writes:

Here in snow country we are settled in to what is a very long stretch of potentially boring days. The holidays are over. It is a very long time till we will get outside on a regular basis. The snow that seemed so beautiful at first is now dirty and the snow banks are piling up. Our vehicles are all the same shade of brownish grey, but if we go to the car wash our doors will freeze shut. People get grumpy. Of course, not everyone lives in a cold climate, but even in warmer places the days till springtime can get long. Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world?

1. Cook wonderful food. There is nothing like a hot, home-cooked meal to make a person feel cozy and comfortable, no matter how hard the elements are raging outside. Bonus points if the wonderful food comes with wonderful wine. And double bonus points if it comes with wonderful company.

2. Take advantage of weather relief: Here in Prairie City, where the current temperature is -25C and a forecast calling for a wind chill tonight of -38C, you have to take advantage of any respites from the cold that might appear. Last week, we were fortunate to have a string of days when the temp was above freezing, so WH and I took advantage by getting outside, doing some yard work, taking walks, and enjoying the sunshine.

3. Take care of yourself: I think that one of the things that can make the long days of winter more difficult to bear is when a person stops putting the effort into making themselves feel good. So even if it's cold and layers are needed, make sure those layers are in flattering cuts and colors, do your makeup, brush your hair, get exercise, stay mobile and of course, no matter how big and clunky and practical your winter boots are, have your fun shoes in your bag for indoors!

4. Play board games: This Christmas, WH and I discovered King's Cribbage, which is essentially a combination of Cribbage and Scrabble. The board is like a Scrabble board, but instead of making words, you make cribbage hands. We have spent many happy hours this winter playing this game and others!

5. Make summer plans: I always find that one of the things that keeps me going in the winter is to make plans for spring and summer, whether those plans are for travel, for home and garden, for outdoor activity. How lovely is it to think ahead in a productive way to the beautiful days to come?!

Have a great day everybody!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not a lot to say...

... about yesterday that hasn't been said already, but
  • I thought it was a really neat day to witness, even from afar
  • I thought he spoke beautifully, both at the ceremony and in his various speeches through the evening
  • The First Lady is FIERCE
  • I wonder what was said in the helicopter on the way to Texas
  • Aretha's hat was a wonder to behold, and I could not pull it off in a million years
  • It is a powerful thing to see people inspired
The time has come to set aside childish things.
In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things that make me hysterical

Pantry Product Replacement Challenge

So, Maureen over at fotos by Meg has launched what I think is a really cool culinary challenge that involves choosing an item in your pantry and then replicating that item from scratch! I've signed up to play along because WH and I eat a lot of pre-made frozen dinners and I've always thought that we could make our own if we were just a little bit more organized and determined about it. This challenge seemed like a great way to go about it. I encourage you to read more about the challenge at the link I've provided! If you participate, post on your blog what you've chosen and how you went about replicating it. Recipes, people, recipes!!

And don't feel restricted to food! If you're the kind of person who makes your own cleaning products, soap, etc., post about that too!!

Have fun!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Five: Take me, Baby, or Leave Me...

Today's Friday Five from the Revgals asks us to list five things that people should know about us!

1. I have many wonderful skills and qualities. Patience is not one of them.

2. I work better, either at home or at my job, when I have music on. This morning that music is Handel's Solomon.

3. I desperately dislike being bullied. I have a number of ninja-esque anti-bullying techniques that I have spent many years honing. These skills include killing them with kindness, being gracious but firm, and saying mean things about them behind their back.

4. I'm an alto. Altos rule.

5. I'm a big sports fan. Baseball, mostly, but also hockey and football and curling and golf and the Olympics and a myriad others.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Words to Live by...

... courtesy of my husband.

We were having a conversation over the Christmas holiday about grocery shopping. WH had been to the Big Chain Grocery Store earlier that afternoon and was relaying frustrations with carts and long lines, etc.

Chorus: Well at least you had had a good lunch before you went grocery shopping. It's never fun to shop when you're hungry, and they say that you're more likely to buy a whole lot of junk food if you're hungry while you're grocery shopping. Whereas, if you've eaten, you feel more energetic and less likely to buy all kinds of junk you don't need!

WH: That's true.... Isn't it funny how the same premise is NOT TRUE for the liquor store?

Monday, January 12, 2009

In which Chorus judges celebrities

I watch two award shows a year - the Golden Globes and the Oscars. I watch those two because I like TV and I like the movies and I'm always interested to see who wins what, but also, admittedly, because I like to judge what everybody is wearing.

And in that spirit, after watching the Golden Globes last night, I would just like to say:

Renee... Glenn... Cameron.... WHAT THE H*** WERE YOU THINKING?!

Kate Winslet looked lovely though.

Hope you all had nice weekends!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Say what, now?

Conversation in the dining room tonight:

Chorus: Honey, we haven't really done a very good job at keeping the cats from clawing the couches.

WH: Yeah, we've kinda given up the goat on that one.

Chorus: I beg your pardon?

WH: What? We've given up the goat.

Chorus: The goat?? I think you mean ghost.

WH: No, goat. Goats are more tangible than ghosts. It's a family expression.

We do have fun together, him and I.

Friday Five: Pancakes!

Something "light and fluffy" from the Revgals this morning, on the subject of PANCAKES!

1. Scratch or mix? Buttermilk or plain?

I am the very proud and lucky partner of a husband who makes fantastic pancakes and waffles from scratch. He has a few different recipes that he uses, including one that was included with the heart-shaped waffle iron we got for our wedding, and a terrific recipe for whole-wheat waffles that we found online.

2. Pure and simple, or with additions cooked in?

Usually pure and simple, but last time WH made waffles, he made them with chocolate flakes in them, and they were AWESOME!

3. For breakfast or for dinner?

We've done both! Usually for breakfast, but they make such a good option for dinner sometimes when you can't think of anything else.

4. Preferred syrup or other topping? How about the best side dish?

We love real maple syrup on our pancakes, but when I was a little girl, a friend introduced me to sugar and lemon juice on pancakes and waffles, which is also lovely!

5. Favorite pancake restaurant?

I don't honestly eat pancakes in restaurants ever because they're never as good as I get them at home. We do have a couple of breakfast places that we frequent with some regularity, and I'm sure that they all make good pancakes!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Five Reasons Chorus Loves the World Juniors

For faithful readers who aren't hockey fans, the World Juniors is an annual international hockey tournament, held in December, involving players aged roughly 17-19 at the level just below professional. Many of the junior players have either been recently drafted into National Hockey League teams or expect to be drafted in the next year. The tournament is fantastic, for the following reasons (and more!):

1. The players are highly skilled, but have usually not yet reached their full size which means that the games do not involve as much physical play as they do speed, finesse and stick-handling. Much more fun to watch than many of the heavy-hitting professionals. I always find it hard to believe that kids so young can be so fundamentally talented!

2. Enthusiasm: For many of the players, it's the first opportunity they have to wear their country's jersey on an international stage. And their excitement and eagerness is so exposed and so genuine, that it's impossible not to be affected.

3. Angelo Esposito was invited to the Canadian junior camp three years in a row. And for three years in a row, he didn't make the cut. This year was his fourth invitiation, and there was some speculation that he wouldn't come at all, that he couldn't risk the disappointment one more time. But there he was, with the same excitement, enthusiasm and determination he must have shown at his first camp. And lo and behold, he made the cut. And was a key factor in Canada's drive to the gold, scoring a key goal in the final game.

4. I love that the junior players SING their national anthems, in full off-key, belt-it-out spirit.

5. Because the quality of play is so high, it's easy to forget how young these players are. But there's always a wonderful moment when the camera pans in on a player's face, in his full wide-eyed, acne-covered, baby-faced glory. There's no hint of jadedness or weariness on his face... He's just a happy kid playing a game he loves.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Trader Tuesdays: On Stuffing

So, it might seem odd to write a post about stuffing AFTER Christmas, but I got curious while I was making my stuffing on Christmas Day about how other people make it. I know that there are quite possibly thousands of different ways to make stuffing. Here's mine, taught to me by MU.

Ingredients (quantities are all rough):

About 8-10 slices of bread, with crusts removed, cut into 1-inch squares
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 apple, chopped
3/4 cup of raisins
1 cup of frozen corn
minced garlic, to taste
savory (lots!) (This is the part of my stuffing recipe that comes from WH's side of the family. It's an excellent addition!)
Sometimes I put a dash of a hot spice too... whatever is on hand.
1 egg

I put all the ingredients together roughly in that order, ending with the egg, which acts as the binding agent for the whole thing. Then I stuff it all in the bird and into the oven the whole works go!

This stuffing is pretty wet in its consistency, but the flavours are so complementary and you get good texture from the celery and apple. YUM!

So, now, I want to hear from you! What's your recipe? Do you stuff the bird, or cook your stuffing separately? If it's the latter, for how long? Do you add unique ingredients that you don't mind sharing?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 5, 2009


I realized today that I haven't actually blogged yet in 2009. I've started a few posts about what I'm looking forward to in the new year, resolutions, etc., but none of them rang particularly true, and they all ended up in the deleted posts pile. I guess I'm going through a little bit of an ambivalent stage about blogging.

That's not to say that life is boring, exactly. Work is busy, WH and I are busy doing lots of fun and exciting things, both with choirs and at home, and I've certainly done lots of thinking about what's to come this year. I just can't seem to put good bloggy words around it these days...

So I might veer away from posts about life in Prairie City for a while, and focus more on other things. Tuesday posts will continue to be about food and trading recipes, I might use Wednesdays to post about sports, Thursdays to post about choral things, and Friday for the Friday Five. Weekends are up in the air, not that I post often on the weekends anyway.

And of course, I'll still be reading and hope you will too.