31 January 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #24: January Comes to a Close...with a side of Robbie Burns.

I can't believe January is almost over! It seems like just yesterday I was prepping for our Halloween get together and now I am seeing Valentine's Day themed tinsel decorating the shelves of our grocery store. Time flies when you are braving the elements in Moose Jaw!

Our good friends, Blake and Jaclyn, provided the perfect way to close out a cold and wintry January with hearty food, friendship, and many a poem said with a night to celebrate the Scot, Robert Burns. "Who is this person?" you ask? He was a poet who lived from 1759 to 1796 and his works are well-known around the world (one of my all-time favorite hits being I'll Aye Ca' In By Yon Town...ahem). Needless to say, there is a tradition that you celebrate the life and times of this Burns fellow with a "Burns Supper" -- full on, non-stop haggis and poetry action.

So, celebrate we did! There was a vegetarian haggis, potato and leek soup, a mushroom vegetable pie, mashed potatoes, smashed parsnips, and trifle for dessert. We all contributed to the feast and to the festivities as we followed the traditional event schedule for the dinner itself. Our friends did a phenomenal job of putting together a evening that included everyone...including the haggis itself!

The evening went like this (as presented by Blake)...

Opening Remarks

The Selkirk Grace

'Some hae meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.'

Following 'The Selkirk Grace' the guests stand as the haggis is brought to the top table. A piper leads the chef, carrying the haggis, while the guests accompany them with a slow hand clap.

The Burns poem To A Haggis, is recited.

When the line 'an cut you up wi' ready slight' is reached the haggis is cut open. The guest then toast the haggis with a glass of whisky. At this point the meal commences followed by...

The Immortal Memory - This is a short speech given usually by a special guest or organiser about Burns, his work and continued relevance today.


Toast To The Lasses - This is a light hearted address to the women present. It was traditionally an opportunity to thank the women for doing the cooking but as we now live in more enlightened times, it tends to take the form of a lighthearted dig, but genuine gratitude aimed at the women. It should never be nasty or... offensive in tone and should end on a conciliatory note. Not least because it is followed by....

The Response of the Lasses - Again this should be a light hearted dig at the men. Not the next shot fired in the gender war (guess who got to do this part!)


This is followed by the recitation of the guests favourite Burns (or other) poems, jokes or songs. The choice is yours on formal or informal.

Tea, Coffee and cakes

The evening ends with Auld Lang Syne.

It was absolutely fantastic to be among friends on a chilly winter night...eating good food, learning about a part of our friend's heritage, attempting our Scottish accents as we recited poetry, and all of us enjoying each other's company.

The Veg Haggis!


Good friends!  Good times!

Toasting the laddies...

I hope this is a tradition that carries on for many years...

17 January 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #23: A Sporting Weekend

Twas the weekend of sporting and all through the land, the Warriors were skating and the Steelers were grand!  Yes, indeed...it was a weekend full of sporting events, friends, good food, and lots of snow.  In other words, an ideal Moose Jaw weekend.

On Friday night, Dave and I received an invitation to see the Moose Jaw Warriors play the Prince Albert Raiders.  We had great seats right behind the visiting team's bench (with the exception of the occasional whiff of hockey gear) in the hockey arena known as the "crushed can" for its distinctive shape.  The Moose Jaw Warriors are a junior hockey league team in Canada's Western Hockey League and have been around in one form or another since 1926.  Before landing in Moose Jaw full-time in 1984, the team had a long stint in Winnipeg.  Despite our home team losing the game, it was a good time and it was fun to see a hockey game in person again.

One of the best parts of the evening was when they brought out the little ones to skate with the Warriors mascot.  Check this out:

On Saturday, we had a bunch of friends over for chili and, well...what else?  Football!!!  Yes, indeed, the Pittsburgh Steelers were playing the Baltimore Ravens and I figured it was as good a time as any to introduce my Canadian friends to my love-affair with all things steel-town related.  The game was good and close, the chili spicy, the company fantastic.  It was the perfect way to spend a cold, dreary Moose Jaw day.  They will play the New York Jets next weekend and I am busy recruiting new converts to the Terrible Towel cheering section.

In addition to watching sports...Dave and I are now in full-swing training for the Saskatoon Marathon taking place this May.  As such, we got our run on -- on the treadmill of course.  It will be Dave's first time tackling 26.2 miles and I am pumped that we will be running the course together.  We motivate each other along the way and having a training partner, especially while running indoors while getting nowhere fast is a bonus.  As a side note, this year I am running races to benefit "Run for Congo Women."  You can check out their link on the right-hand rail of this page.  I have four runs lined up this year, including my ultimate goal -- the Saskatoon Ultra in October.

I am including some pictures below, including some from our wintry hike from my previous post.  Have a lovely week everyone!

Happy Hay Ball

Hiking is fun!

The road from Moose Jaw to Regina...sometimes it's a nail biter!

12 January 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #22: Resolutions? Nah, Dreams + Goals...

A new year!  First, recovery from the holidays, then...

A chance to tackle some of the things on my list of goals + dreams.  A chance to dive head first into new challenges and achieve some of the things I've talked about.  Whatever your opinion on the New Year, I always cherish the fact that we get a chance at the end of every year to reflect, remember, and then set ourselves up for another year of experiences -- large and small, fun and challenging.

I am not a big believer in the "resolution" deal.  Instead, I like to make a goals + dreams list.  A list that inspires, motivates, and energizes me.  I put things on my list that I feel I can accomplish...in other words, I am only going to set myself up for success and that makes me feel good! 

I've had a lot of inspiration over the last year and I am surprised by how my surroundings have an effect on my goals.  For example, one of my goals this year is to fully embrace being in Canada.  I want to jump with both feet in and explore, try new things (snowshoeing, anyone?), and experience things I would not have a chance to if I were in the States.  I want to get to know more about Moose Jaw and the people and things that make it tick.  For instance, this year, I would love to do more trails in the Nicolle Flats at Buffalo Pound -- so, in the spring, Dave and I are committing to some trail runs (we have already been hiking through the deep snow there...fantastic!).  If some are lacking for inspiration, you can find some gems on 43Things, a website where folks are sharing resolutions as diverse as "quit smoking" to "find my bliss."  It's fun to see what others are sharing...

To kick-start our experiences, as I mentioned, Dave and I went through some of the trails at the Nicolle Flats.  It was cold and the snow was deep, but the sky stretched out above us as our breath made clouds in the air and we watched as white-tailed deer made their way through the provincial park.  We could have stayed out there forever.  Buffalo Pound is an excellent place for being in the outdoors with hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing, and camping.  Apparently, and I just read this, the Pound was used by early Indians to corral bison and there is a herd that is kept there now...something to check out this year...

I've had a good time coming up with my list and am excited about what this year holds for me.  I hope you are just as excited about yours.

02 January 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #21: Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee!

It has been a whirlwind of a holiday season filled with family, friends, love, laughter, twinkling lights, cookies, birthdays, yummy food, snow, snow, and more snow.  Dave and I spent our first married Christmas making the trek from the wilds of Moose Jaw (really?  Does that rabbit the size of a small VW sitting outside our front door and then bounding across the field by our house count as "wild?"  Yes, yes it does.) to the balmy seashore of New Jersey where my parents reside.  We were joined by my sister and brother-in-law, their three kids, my grandma, and my aunt.  A packed house equals toys, games, movie-watching, tons of things to graze on throughout the day (my aunt's tarts are a totally valid reason to stick your hand in the cookie jar at least twenty times a day), and interesting navigational routes through the house to ensure you aren't stepping on a baby underfoot, running into the decorations, or causing our tree to fall down (which it did this year).

We flew in and during the early parts of the week, Dave and I had work to do.  We traveled into Philadelphia one day with my dad to work out of various coffee shops and soak in the atmosphere of the city.  We also had the opportunity to meet some of the amazing people my dad works with and check out his office space.  My mom was also working up until the last minute so out of the packed house, four of us were preoccupied with prepping for disasters (my dad), caring for sick kids (my mom), taking an online development course (Dave), and crunching numbers in excel (me).  However, once our workdays came to an end...let the festivities begin!

There were pictures with Santa, family portraits at the mall, gift-wrapping, cooking, movie-watching (Christmas Vacation and It's A Wonderful Life are holiday staples in our home), Christmas eve church-going, present-UNwrapping, tree-solidifying (it wasn't coming down again!), and everything in between.  My sister and I baked traditional cherry cookies for everyone and she made a beautiful pumpkin pie.  My mom and dad made a fantastic Christmas breakfast of strawberry crepes and dinners with stuffing, gravy, potatoes, and everything else you can think of.  We watched football and even had a spontaneous concert courtesy of my niece and nephew (pictures are below)!

And as all of these festivities were unfolding, Mother Nature was unwrapping a gift of her own for the East Coast -- the Blizzard of 2010!  Yes, the skies opened up on December 26 and we were hit with howling winds and thick, wet snow.  That morning, Dave and I went for a run and the next, we opened the door to see my sister and brother-in-law's van buried under two and a half feet of snow in the front driveway.  It was crazy and beautiful and was bummed that I couldn't help shovel and be outside in it (we had to delay leaving as we couldn't get out of the house so I was working).  That evening, Dave and I took a long walk through the thigh-high snow under the stars, laughing our heads off, making snow angels, and enjoying each other's company.  We returned the next day to a snowy, but not AS snowy, Moose Jaw...and, don't worry, all the gifts made it home safely!

Fast forward to New Year's Eve!  Dave and I are incredibly lucky not only to have an awesome family to spend time with over the holidays, but amazing friends to spend the New Year with.  Friends of ours hosted a small gathering at their place where we feasted on cous cous, salad, black forest desserts, and homemade bread with homemade cheese toppings (Blake knows how to get his chef on).  We toasted and sipped, played games and laughed, ate more and screeched it in.  Screech, you say?  Well, this New Year's was a Newfoundland New Year's.  Why?  Cause, it was.  Screech is a Newfoundland rum that, I can say lives up to its name.  Having screeched once, I have to say that I'm not sure I will do it again!  It was a fantastic night and I am so excited to see what 2011 has in store!

So, to all of you in 2011, I wish you nothing but the best...I hope you have a wonderful year!

p.s.  A very happy birthday to you, Amanda and Jesse!

Cookie baking in Moose Jaw...all vegan!


Cherry Cookies with Melissa

Crowning Glory!

Rock on!  Note...the Steelers are on in the background...indeed.

My mom MAKES these stockings for the family...amazingly beautiful!

Christmas Tradition...my dad reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

SNOW!  It had just started to fall...

There is picnic furniture under there...somewhere...

Traditional Christmas, erm, New Year's Cake.


Screeching in the New Year!

Clean, healthy, and good-for-you New Year's Day breakfast!