Monday, January 28, 2013

Welcome to Dinner Night!

Since moving to Alberta, some of my friends and I have started a monthly dinner night ritual. These nights see a pair host dinner where they create a main course to share with 6 guests. The 6 other guests rotate between bringing dessert and beverages. The nights usually end with board games and other fun activities that tend to lead into a session of gut-busting laughter. Food, friends, and games...what else could be better? 

This weekend, Andrea and I were up to host dinner night. Before I go any further, I need to back track a bit about a month to Christmas 2012. For Christmas, Mom wrote out some of my favourite family recipes and arranged them into a book for me. What a special gift! So, I knew immediately that I wanted to make one of these family favourites for my friends. Meal of choice? Lasagna! And I don't think I've ever been so nervous to cook for a group of people. The meals we have had so far during these dinner nights have been outstanding! Homemade tacos (and by homemade, I mean EVERYTHING made from scratch - from the tortillas to the refried beans) and delicious comforting chili at another. Also, I was making a recipe I have never made before. Not always the best idea when hosting 6 people for supper, but with patience and by following the recipe exactly, I knew I could do it...(and with a little encouragement and reassurance from mother and father dearest!) 

 Good thing I read the recipe earlier in the week before making the lasagna on Saturday! Because to my surprise, I had to let the sauce simmer for 4 hours. I completely understand why this step is necessary - to help develop and marry the flavours together. So the sauce simmered, and simmered, was stirred and stirred, then simmered some more. In all honesty, this recipe is super simple, just takes time. 

Once the sauce is done, and the lasgna noodles have been cooked in boiling water, all that's left is to layer everything together. A little bit of sauce needs to be placed on the bottom to keep everything from sticking, then you layer noodles, sauce, cottage cheese, and mozzerella cheese, repeating until the pan is full. I made two layers. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 1 hour and you've got a gooey, delicious, cheesy main course. To go with the lasagna, Andrea made her mother's homemade caesar salad. The dressing Andrea made was to die for! Garlicy and creamy, it truly is a good thing we were all eating the same meal. Garlic galore. And it was a hit! 

I've really been enjoying these dinner nights. I'm getting to know new people, getting to explore the things I love (cooking and food!) and I'm getting to try new things. It's an affordable way to have fun in this large city! I Skyped with one of my good friends, Cara, yesterday. During our talk, we discussed how sometimes I feel like my life is stagnant and I'm not going in the right direction. When I told her about these fun dinner nights, she was amazing in reminding me that this is proof that I'm putting myself out there and finding new adventures. Sometimes it's hard to keep these things in perspective when you watch other peoples lives develop and change as well. But it's good friends like Cara that keep me level headed. And it's these dinner nights that keep me passionate and allow me to have fun!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Kathryn!

I have a great friend named Kathryn. Today is her birthday. She is turning 24! And this blog post is dedicated to her...

Dear Buda,

I want to wish you the happiest of birthdays. I went back and looked at the blog post I wrote on your 23rd birthday and I smiled so big because it was full of so many memories! The Harry Potter cake, "here's to the time...", "surprising" you with a gathering when you thought it was just a visit, and having you home again from your adventures in St. Andrew's. Today, I can't believe how quickly a year has flown by. I am so proud of all of the things you have accomplished in your 23rd year. You have seen, experienced, and a done a lot! You inspire me to think bigger and broaden my horizons. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful friend like you! 

We aren't in the same province this year for your birthday, but that doesn't mean I can't pop open a bottle of cheap champagne and toast a "here's to the time..." to you: 

~ Here's to the time you accepted my awkward and lame introduction and took me in as a friend anyway almost 6 years ago. 

~ Here's to the time you opened my eyes to Jason Statham. Thank you. 

~ Here's to the time we danced to your ring tones on the beach in St. Andrews.

~ Here's to the time you sent me a Christmas present from Scotland and it hasn't arrived yet...

~ Here's to the time you came to the Christmas Formal via a wall of pictures of just your face. 

~ Here's to the time we bawled on my couch when we said "bye" before you moved to Scotland. 

~ Here's to ALL OF THE TIMES! 

I love you, buddy. And I only hope your 24th year is a stellar and adventure filled as your 23rd. 

Yours truly, 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Today, I turn 24. Hmmm.

Last night, I went back and looked at my blog post that I wrote when I turned 23. I was surprised at myself because I got slightly emotional. Then, I went back and looked at the photos from my 23rd birthday. And I got even more emotional. I think it's because my 23rd birthday was filled with love. I have never felt more love all at one time in my life. This year will be my first birthday away from home - the first time I won't celebrate my birthday with my family, and without some of my closest and best friends. And those thoughts break my heart a little bit. 

Honestly, I didn't expect myself to get emotional prior to my birthday. I didn't expect to feel any emotions at all out of the ordinary. But here I am finding myself feeling anxious. I think a lot of it is stemming from the anticipation of how I'll feel through the day today. All I want to do is eat a delicious meal, spend time with friends, and forgot about the fact that I'm getting older. So, I'm pulling up my socks and will take the time in the rest of this post to reflect on the last year...

If there could be a theme for my twenty-third year, I would choose "surprises." I surprised myself a lot over the last year. I think that since turning 22, my emotions have changed. I often make quick jokes about how I wear my emotions on my sleeve, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I've become more open with talking about my feelings, and I'm a firm believer that they are better out then in. I guess you could say I'm "less in my head." So, in saying this, when I decided to move to the other side of the country, I didn't think my emotions could handle it. And thus far, I've made out just fine. I love my job, I love exploring this new city (with some of the most amazing know who you are), I've made new friends and created stronger relationships with those I had already acquainted myself with, I reunited with some old high school friends, and I am quickly learning what it means to be an "adult." But I'm certain there is much more to learn. I've matured in a new way, and I'm surprised at how well I've handled it.

My twenty-third year also saw a second degree, goodbyes and see you laters, a whole lot of tears but an equal amount of laughter, new beginnings, my first apartment to myself, a cross-country trip, money struggles and triumphs, connecting with family from far away, sight seeing in the west, a health scare with my eyes, long talks about life, love, and the future, weight loss, dancing, road trips with best friends, and life full of love. 

Though I'm sad to not be surrounded by my family on my birthday, I'm blessed to have great friends here in Calgary to celebrate with. I'm blessed to be surrounded by love. Because in the words of my idol, Michael Jackson, "Love Lives Forever." 

Here's to my twenty-fourth year. May it be just life-changing and profound as my twenty third.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I'm Back!

What a whirlwind 2 weeks...but I wouldn't have had it any other way. 

I spent my two week Christmas vacation back home in New Brunswick. Family, friends, traditions, reminiscing, creating new memories, and a whole lot of love. It truly couldn't get any better.

And now, as I sit in this room, drinking a cup of tea, listening to a cheesy 90s playlist on Songza, and thinking back to my time at home, my heart slightly aches from missing the good times, but at the same time my head knows I've made the right decision to experience a new life in a new place.

Things I learned during my time at home: 

- Never will I fly from the West coast to the East coast on the red eye flight. Flying all night plus loosing 3 hours really screws up your system. 

- "Distance makes the heart grow fonder"

- As much as I don't think I'm built for the small town life, there truly is no place like home. 

- I have the best friends in the world. Though we live on different ends of the country, when we meet again it's as if no time as gone by. 

- Snooty Fox not only has the best wings and artichoke and spinach dip in Fredericton, they are the best in Canada...or at least in my books and with my taste buds they are! I have yet to find a spinach dip as cheesy and delicious as theirs. 

- Memories last forever, even if you don't have pictorial evidence. Those memories are forever yours.

- It's more likely you'll regret the things in life that you didn't do.

- Hockey is built into my blood.

- Family is forever (but I sorta already knew this).

It's good to have been home.

Happy New Year everyone! May 2013 find you happy, healthy, and surrounded by love.