Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy New Year!

2010 was a pretty good year for me: I graduated from University, travelled to Europe, went to five weddings, started taking photography courses and began volunteering. Here’s a quick photo review:

(click to enlarge)

Top row: Awesome Halloween costume (+ banana cake!), Iron Ring, ENGG Week, visiting my friend’s farm and milking a cow for the first time, Mount Assiniboine backpacking trip

Middle row: Night photography session, one friend’s wedding, me and my siblings + brother’s girlfriend at cousin’s wedding

Bottom row: Visiting my German exchange host family, Mr. Bean and I in Sweden, with my two school friends (the one in the middle got married.

What are the most memorable things that happened to you this year?


Filed under Life, Photography

Cherry Almond Crisps Version 3

I know, it seems ridiculous that I have three versions of the same cookie, but these are my family’s favourite Christmas cookie and every year I make changes to make it that much better! Previous versions were fairly dry and/or crispy, but this version of the recipe gives a nice chewy and non-crumbly cookie. Of course, eating the raw dough is my family’s favourite thing about these cookies – so it means that there are lots of snitches while I’m making them!

Gluten, Dairy, Egg and Soy Free Cherry Almond Crisps

1 1/2 c. chopped candied cherries
1/2 c. blanches slivered almonds
1/2 c. coconut oil, softened at room temperature
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg replacer
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 c. brown rice flour
1/3 c. tapioca starch
1/3 c. sorghum flour
1 tsp. xathan gum
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
Rice or soy-free almond milk to get cookies to right consistency

  1. Chop up cherries and blanch and sliver almonds. Set aside.
  2. Cream together coconut oil and sugar.
  3. Add egg replacer, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat to combine.
  4. Add in dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  5. The dough will be fairly crumbly – add enough rice milk to get to a slightly sticky dough consistency.
  6. Add in cherries and almonds. Stir until well mixed in.
  7. Divide dough in half and shape into long rectangular blocks about 1 1/2″ – 2″ a side on a piece of wax paper. Wrap the dough in the wax paper.
  8. Cool in fridge for about 30 minutes or until the dough is firm enough to cut easily.
  9. Cut dough blocks into 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick slices. Place on cookie sheet.
  10. Bake in 350F oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until the bottoms start turning brown.
  11. Remove to a cooling rack.
  12. Enjoy!

What is your favourite Christmas cookie?


Filed under Baking

Hasta La Vista, Lappy

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A paltry six weeks after my hard drive on my laptop died, it died again. It had been having a few issues – freezing up occasionally for a few seconds, but seemed to be working well enough. Of course, until it decided to crash and then wasn’t able to find the drive to boot from.

Like everything that happens, there are always good and bad things associated with a particular situation. As much as I am annoyed and angry about the circumstances, a few positive things are also apparent.

Bad: I feel like I essentially wasted a few hundred dollars on getting my previous hard drive replaced and the data extracted on my laptop.

Bad: I thought that I had backed up my external hard drive just over a week ago, but I found out that it didn’t go anything past November 18th – the program that was supposed to do the automatic back up didn’t work.

Good: My brother-in-law’s friend is really good at extracting data off hard drives, so hopefully I should be able to recover things that should have been backed up but weren’t. (God willing!)

Bad: I thought I lost lots of photos due to the failed back up.

Good: I have a tendency not to delete photos off my memory card until I have handed in the assignment/given people the photos. This meant that I still had all my photos from the Zoo and most of the photos that I had taken for my final assignment! (Thank God for small mercies!)

Lesson Learned: Manually back up things more frequently – programs are not always reliable!

Good: Mr. Bean has a computer that works and is fairly reliable. (Knock on wood)

Annoying: I have to organize/edit photos using Microsoft Picture Manager software on his computer instead of Lightroom – it’s crazy how quickly I became used to using a particular type of software!

Bad: I thought that I had lost both of my Adobe licenses as I was told that each license has to be deactivated from that hard drive/computer before you are allowed to install it on another computer. Since the both licenses were on hard drives that died, I was convinced that I had lost both and that I had wasted $550 on software.

Good: I phoned Adobe and since both licenses were lost in situations that I had no control over, I still have both licenses! (Praise the Lord!)

Good: The lady on the phone said that it was very nice talking to me and that I was very pleasant to listen to. Kind of random, but really nice of her!

Lesson Learned: Nothing beats talking to a real person who actually speaks English when it comes to computer problems. Don’t bother with the “help chats” as they really aren’t that helpful!

Good: I’ve decided to get a new laptop – this time one that is more apt at dealing with large amounts of photos and I will go somewhere that will give me an extended warranty!

Question of the Moment: What kind of laptop should I get?

What kind of laptop do you have and how has it treated you?

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Filed under Life

I’m Having to Grow a Backbone

Through my volunteering at CUPS, I’m slowly (and unfortunately) learning that you cannot assume the best of everyone. I did at the beginning, but you just can’t. And that makes me sad.

Lesson One: You can’t assume that what people say they need something for is what they actually need it for.

CUPS provides a washroom for people to use free of charge. On my first or second morning, the washroom was closed as the maintenance guy was fixing something. Some guy, who was blind in one eye so I assumed he wasn’t lying, demanded to know why the washroom was closed. I told him it was being fixed, so to wait. He started yelling that he was going to “s*** his pants” if I didn’t open the door, so I did. Big mistake. I found out later from the maintenance guy that the guy went to the washroom to shoot up and then trashed the place. I felt like the biggest idiot ever.

Lesson Two: If someone is yelling at you, you refuse point-blank to help them until they calm down. As I was told “I do not need to take any abuse from anyone.” I think that rule applies to every aspect of life!

It took  me a while to come to this realization. One time when I guy was on the phone, he wanted me to dial the number for him, so he started yelling at me to do it. I looked at him and said “You’re perfectly capable of dialing the number as you’re the one holding the phone.” The people waiting at the desk around me laughed, so I felt like I had made a step forward.

Lesson Three: You need to stand up for yourself as some people will do almost everything to manipulate you into doing what they want. For example, if people were to find that yelling at me gets them whatever they want, I will be yelled at all the time.

Since I’m new, I don’t know where everything is and exactly what things we can give to people who ask for them. It’s been somewhat frustrating for everyone involved as I usually have to go ask someone about details. The usual clients have figured out that I don’t always know where everything is, so they don’t like me to answer them when they ask for something. Usually the most persistent are the clients who are drunk. At the end of my first week, a woman was asking for a backpack or a jacket – something that we obviously didn’t have on the “these are clothes free for the taking” table. I told her that we didn’t have any but she refused to accept that answer as I, to put politely, “I was a new person and don’t know where anything is.” My reply? “Well, it’s hard to know where something is if we don’t have any.” Luckily for me, she didn’t have an answer to that and left me alone.

Lesson Four: Dealing with belligerent clients is difficult. I still don’t really know how to effectively deal with them, but I know if things get really bad, calling the cops is acceptable.

One day we had a lot of difficulty getting some of the clients to leave for when we close at lunch. Generally we start asking people to leave 10 – 15 minutes before we close as it generally takes about that long to get people to leave. Given that is was fairly cold outside (-10C or 14F), I do understand their hesitation to leave. But a group of clients decided that they weren’t leaving until exactly noon when we closed. Noon came and went and they still refused to leave, despite my asking and about almost every other person who works there. Every time I would ask, they would start mocking me, completely ignoring me, saying rude things about me, or pulling the “it’s Christmas and you’re Christian, so let us stay” card. I ended up leaving at 12:30 as I was incredibly stressed out and frustrated – it made me glad that I am a volunteer, so I don’t have to stay for the whole day if I don’t want to!

It really annoys me when people decide that they are entitled to whatever they want when they want. CUPS is a charitable organization, so we are helping them not because they are entitled to the services we provide, but because we want to help them. But at the same time, I feel like such an enabler as I’m not telling them no, you have to earn what you’re given and have some accountability with the money that the government gives them every month. When situations like the clients refusing to leave arise, I feel like I’m a dog with no teeth – all bark and no bite. I would love to say to some people “you have abused your privilege of being here, so you’re not allowed to come back,” however, there really is no way of enforcing it. I know, I could call the cops, but it’s like the boy who cried wolf – if we call the cops all the time over someone being at CUPS when they shouldn’t be, they’re probably not going to take us seriously after a while. (In my opinion, unless someone is really harassing or abusing me, it is not the best use of the police’s resources.) Plus, I think you’d need to get a restraining order or something against the person for it to be legally binding, and again, I don’t think that is really worth the courts’ time if it’s just people being belligerent.

I do realize that all of this is very negative, but it’s very easy to become so jaded when you see so many people abusing the system and the resources given to them. It makes me really sad that some people are ruining everything for everyone else. There are a lot of positive things that happen as we are able to help a lot of people, but I think that’s a topic for another post.

What’s a lesson that you have learned recently?


Filed under Life, Thoughts

Zoo Trip

More photography course fun! This last weekend we headed out to the zoo to practice taking pictures of wildlife. It was good – lots of tips and stories from both our instructors. I initially froze in the morning despite having about ten layers of clothing on. I later realized that I could have worn my wool hiking socks instead of the thin socks I was wearing and my feet would have been much warmer. Then, of course, when we entered the tropical conservatory, it was a 40C temperature change plus humidity and I pretty much melted. Apparently camera lenses don’t enjoy the sharp temperature change either – I had to wipe the lens off before I took every picture for the first ten minutes. I didn’t have a lens cloth, so I used my t-shirt. Some of my classmates scolded me, so needless to say I went out and got one for myself!

Although our trip was fun, we had an ulterior motive for being at the zoo: we had to take photos for our next assignment. This time we have three categories: Mammal, Humour and Colour. (For those from the States, check out the “u” action in the Canadian spelling of the later two words.)

As per usual, I have chosen my favourite photos from these three categories, but I would like your help in choosing which photos I will submit in my assignment! I have created a poll for each category – there’s lots of pictures, but hopefully it’s worth it. If you have any constructive criticism of my photos, I would love to hear it – it’s good for me to learn about ways that I can improve my photography!

Category: Mammals

1. Majestic Mountain Sheep Ram

2. Side View of Mountain Sheep Ram

3. Lemur in Tree

4. Monkey Embrace

5. Monkey Silhouette

6. Contemplative Monkey

Category: Humour

1. Tree Loving Giraffe

2. Newspaper Monkey

3. Silly Parrot

4. 80's Glamour Shot Monkeys

5. Monkeys Beauty Salon

6. Curious Monkey

7. Sleeping Anteater


Category: Colour

1. Frosty Leaf


2. Frosty Rose Hips

3. Funky Pink Flower

4. Purple Orchids

5. White Orchid

6. Hanging Orchids

7. Red Flowers

8. Colourful Parrot


Again, thank you so much for your help in choosing photos! 🙂

What do you enjoy the most about going to the zoo?


Filed under Photography