Wednesday 30 December 2009

Time Again For Resolutions.....

Remember that movie? I guess we're not living in space stations on the moon or any other exotic places in the solar system for that matter. A bit behind in our progression I'd say. Nonetheless, 2010 is now upon us.

I thought that since I've spent most of the week thinking about all that transpired in 2009, and what I'd like to accomplish in 2010, that I'd share my resolutions with you. I write resolutions every year, and even though I often don't accomplish everything on the list, something about writing them down keeps me focused enough to accomplish at least some things. So, I'd call that successful. Remember the other day when I said I'd try to set a resolution to blog every single day? Well, after the last week of planning things for my new calling as Primary President, and anticipating the other things that I'll be busy with in 2010, I don't think that's possible, however - I've kept the blog in mind whilst planning my resolutions. So, without further delay, here they are...

Becky's Resolutions 2010

I will practice Yoga for an hour – at least 3 days a week
I will do 30 minutes of some sort of Cardio exercise 6 Days a week
I will not eat Candy at all, except for Dark Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger at my discretion
I will eat a Healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables as usual

(these go in line with goals written earlier this month)

I will study at least 1 chapter of Scriptures every day
I will offer up sincere prayer every night and throughout the day (never could master morning prayers - always fell asleep)
I will attend the temple more often in 2010, aiming for March as the first trip. (travel is expensive)
I will give every bit of attention I can to my calling as Primary President, and give each child individualized attention according to their needs

I will set aside time (at least a couple of hours) every day except Sunday to study and work on my University Course
I will do everything I can to keep a first class Honours standing

I will write a Blog entry once a week (on Sunday)
I will go to all church activities and meet as many people as I can
I will look into the Capoeira class and other classes where I can meet new people.

So, there you have it - Resolutions 2010. I have to say - the health goals are particularly in the fore-front of my mind (as usual) - as people have been posting pictures of me on facebook that I am NOT happy with. I know that the camera adds like 10 pounds, but still - I'm feeling quite uncomfortable with those pictures. So, as soon as I'm back to the office, regular routine ensues.

I hope everyone is as excited as I am to start a new year... when I was young, I used to think that New Year's was a stupid holiday that was over-hyped. Now that I'm older, I get excited about starting fresh every year. I think it's a great holiday.

Tomorrow night, I'm going to the Hogmanay Ceilidh at the church - which should get me into exercise mode - as Ceilidh = workout.

Happy Hogmanay everyone!

Sunday 20 December 2009

More News...

I've known for about a month now, but today it was officially announced at church that I will be the new Primary President of the Dundee Bingham Ward. This means that I'll be in charge of the spiritual welfare of about 30? children between the ages of 2 and 12. So, yes - I'll be warping young minds. Just kidding. Anyway, when the Bishop called me in and asked me to do this, I was a little daunted to say the least, but after the last few weeks of thinking about it, I've gotten used to the idea, and I know it's what I'm supposed to do at this point in my life. I love kids. It's quite clear that kids and I get along. In fact, I love anything that needs nurturing. This is why I've been all desperate to have a dog lately. (lately = my entire life) So, I have needs, they have needs - all needs are met by this arrangement. Problem solved. Plus, I always enjoy a challenge and an opportunity to serve. I think it will be good. I always have Faith that God knows what he's doing, but sometimes I wonder. I guess time will tell...

I've decided that in the new year, one of my resolutions will be to write something on my blog every single day. I don't know if I'll really be able to keep it up, as life is going to be considerably busier in the New Year; but I'll certainly try.

New Year includes...

Work Full-time
School Part-time
Primary President Full-time
Commitment to Meena's Tuesday night Yoga class (she is so very persuasive)
Monday night possible commitment to Capoeira class? (not sure, have to look into it)
Regular Exercise at lunch/walk to work/Yoga 3 times a week at home

So, I think it's going to be a hoppin' time. Perhaps this is my year. Everything big always happens when you have absolutely no time for it.

Saturday 19 December 2009

News and General Christmassy Joy...

What a week!

Full of news, and exciting things, and just general Christmassy goodness.

1st thing I can report is...

For some time now, as many of you know, I've been thinking about my future, and having grown up in Calgary, Alberta, (where no one really needs a degree to get a good job, and where post-secondary education is ridiculously expensive) I never really pursued a degree. But, that doesn't mean I never saw the value in it. The truth is, for years and years, I never really knew what I wanted to do. I started a brief stint in Horticulture - which unfortunately because I was 19 at the time, and distracted by hormones/emotions/men - didn't work out. I like plants though, don't get me wrong. I also completed a Certificate at BVC for a "Health Care Clerk" career - which led me to my illustrious Hospital Unit Clerk career at the CHR. (love you folks and miss you terribly). However, I always knew that I wanted to do something more. The other factor of course is, through all of those years, I had to support myself, and paying for school would be my responsibility entirely. There's no way Mum and Dad could help me out with that.

Almost a year ago, I decided to apply at Abertay University for their Food, Nutrition, and Health programme - because I really like food, and nutrition (as you know) and I'd like to help other people in their quest to improve overall health. Anyway, I did that, and was accepted. (thanks Kathy for the great reference). I was due to start that - next September with no clear idea how I would be able to afford to live, pay off my loans back home, and go to school Full Time. Obviously I'm going to have to continue to work, so I was not sure how that would all work.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was having a chat with Hilary (who is always full of excellent advice), and she mentioned that I should do something funded by the University which I currently work for, because there are loads of opportunities for staff members to improve their own personal development. I gave that some thought, and prayer. Then, I wrote an e-mail to the Personal and Professional Development department.

Long story short, it turns out that the PPD department will fund 50% of my education in working towards a degree if the School I work for fronts the other 50%. So, after an interview with my excellent Dean and School Secretary, they were very happy to authorize the 50%.

I will be working towards a BSc in Environmental Studies at the Open University. Which will allow me to continue to work Full-time, and do my studies in my own time. I know it's not nutrition, but it's another subject that interests me equally. Plus, food is related in a VERY big way to the environment. In fact, it's the subject that interests me the most - as you know if you've read my previous posts about local eating. I think, overall - it will be a really great experience for me. I hear no end of good things about the OU. So, that's news number one.

2nd thing to report is...

My best friend in Scotland is getting married!!!! Which for some reason makes me a ridiculous amount happier than usual "friends getting married" news. Perhaps it's because we're a bit in the same boat, and his finding the woman of his dreams gives me a bit of hope - that there's someone equally as exciting out there - somewhere for me. To be honest, it was quite a miraculous thing that they found each other. I'm so happy that it's worked out so well for them. It's funny, but most women my age who are still single get embittered when they hear news of people getting married, and they are yet again left on the shelf. Perhaps I'm still on the shelf, but I find such joy, (and I guess hope) whenever I hear news of people getting married. I guess that's a good sign. So, congratulations Steve and MBC!

3rd thing to report is...

Christmas is coming, and I'm just really excited about it. That's all. My tree is up (and has been since my Birthday - haha), there's snow on the ground, I've got good friends to spend time with, and lots of great parties to go to. I miss my family, but they know I love them, as I sent them a 2.5 kilo package full of chocolate. So, roll on Christmas - but not too quickly as I'm really enjoying it.

Everything just feels really great today.

Love you all! x

p.s. - It's snowing quite heavily just now - so I guess that means we'll have a lovely white Christmas in Dundee!

Saturday 12 December 2009

1 Year as a Dundonian...

Well, I've been here a year now... A year ago on Wednesday I got on a plane, Thursday I arrived in the UK, and a year ago yesterday I arrived in Dundee.

(on the plane that brought me here)

It's been an interesting year, I must say. When you think about it, it was quite a gamble moving to an entirely different continent with very little funds saved, and no job lined up - leaving a fairly comfortable job, life, family, friends.

I had Faith though, and the knowledge that if I did everything in my power to make things happen, that God would help me... and he did.

1 year later - I have a permanent job in a place that I enjoy working, a place to live that I love - with an excellent view, fully functional kitchen and plenty of space to myself, fantastic landlords, good friends that I can turn to if I need help with anything, plants, furniture, food in my fridge, a gym membership, the list of blessings goes on really. There's still a few vitally important things missing from my life, but overall - I have it pretty good really...

... and I think the gamble (or leap of Faith as it's more appropriately called) payed off. Things are looking up. There's always something new in my life to keep my interest fresh.

People here still ask me - every time they find out that I've moved here from Canada - "Why did you move here?" (people here think Dundee is the armpit of Scotland) I always answer the same - "I needed a change" or "I like Dundee - it's just the right sized city for me", etc... the truth is, I just felt drawn here, and now that I am here - it's home. For this moment in time for me - Dundee is my home city. Calgary hasn't felt like home for a fair number of years now. My immediate family is there, not to mention a very large portion of my friends - but the city itself is not my home - anymore.

So, I guess that would make the move - a success.

(here in my flat - this minute - happy)

Wednesday 2 December 2009

The Cold...

It's been well over a year since I last had a cold, so I suppose I'm due one. However, this one seems to be the cold-spawn of the devil. I hate being sick - I stayed home from work today and slept most of the morning, but have you noticed that when you have a cold, you only manage to sleep in short spurts? Perhaps it's the whole not being able to breath thing... On a positive note, I received a box from home today. (lucky I was in house) It was full of more of my books. Oh how I miss my books. There's now about 18 boxes left to mail. Can only really afford to send a few at a time, but that's ok - because it's kind of like receiving presents in the mail.

Speaking of receiving presents in the mail, I've started this campaign on FB to get my friends in Canada and the U.S. to mail me a box of Kraft Dinner. The other day I was sitting around, thinking of what simple, easy food I could cook for myself, and like anyone else who was raised on the stuff, I immediately thought of KD. They have Kraft "Cheesy Pasta" here, but it's total crap, and nowhere near worthy of even being compared to KD. The thing is, as an adult, I grew out of the desire to eat KD - because it is rather naff. But, once in a while, you know? The craving just overtakes you. Perhaps it's just comfort food. I really must be well established here in Scotland, because I remember that last year when I arrived, my friend - Steve was having similar cravings, and his parents sent him KD. I was all - why? It's so disgusting... Now - I get it. Comfort food from home.

So, if you want to make my Christmas wish come true, send me a box of KD (address on FB) and I promise that if you do, I'll mail you one authentic Galaxy bar (or whatever chocolate you choose) from right here in the UK. Fair deal? You can thank Jocelyne for that - her idea.

I do wish this cold would go away - though I have to say, I'm well stocked up with cold remedies. This is all down to my dear friend Hilary whom I work with. She really is very thoughtful. As soon as she heard I was sick, she marched me down to the chemists and bought me Lem Sip (Neo Citron), Cough Syrup, Strepsils, and a Hot Water Bottle. Bless her - she takes good care of me. I've started a fan club for her on FB - it's entitled "I Love Hilary" - she really is the best.

So - yeah that's about all I have to report today. December is here, my chocolate parcels are mailed home, Christmas is coming, and I've already got 2 invitations to dinner - which is brilliant. I'll be spending most of the holidays with my friends the Clancys though. Love the Clancys. "Christmas at the Clancys" - sounds like a movie.

Later peeps.

Sunday 22 November 2009

How Becky Got Her Groove Back...

Well, it's been a week of being back on the wagon...

I seriously feel like I've got my groove back. I feel amazing. It's all due to exercise and good nutrition. Maybe that's what I've been missing all of these months. I've been slightly... down in the mouth for a while now. I blamed it on being single, and the usual depressing things. Apparently all I needed (not that I don't still need the other things) was good nutrition and exercise.

Life is pretty good this week I have to say. I shall continue my ride on the wagon to wellness and fitness. I have not weighed myself, nor will I. I have no idea what progress I've made this week weight-wise. I have to say though - looking and feeling fairly hot.

Roll on wagon train...

Sunday 15 November 2009

Back On The Wagon

I have no idea how much I weigh at this moment, and I'm not going to find out. Sufficeth to say though, I'm not too impressed with my physical situation at the moment, because my clothes are starting to not fit, and I can't afford to buy new clothes. So, the answer is...


However, I've decided to keep the rules simple this time around.

Rule 1: I will not weigh myself at all (for at least a year)

Rule 2: I will eat no candy except dark chocolate and crystallized ginger (and then sparingly)

Rule 3: I will do Yoga at least 3 times a week

Rule 4: I will do 30 minutes of cardio 6 days a week. (Running, Cycling, or Fast Walking)

I think my eating habits are fairly normal other than that, so I'm going to keep everything else the same, and continue to try to eat healthy overall. Christmas is coming, and I've still got the mound of Birthday Candy to conquer, so that may prove difficult, however - I CAN DO IT. As I have proven before. I just need to remember that. Plus, I can't afford new clothes.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Some Nonsense Writing For General Update....

Blah!!!!! That's just how I felt like starting this blog. I really have nothing at all in particular to say - I just thought - it's been quite a while since I wrote anything at all here... what have I been up to? Lets see............

Work is going well. I'm settling in at the Graduate School well now, and I like the people I work with. I miss my friends at the other School, but we have lunch now and then, so it's ok. Dundee is nice and small - so no one is really that far away. I have no dating life to speak of - still. I have decided it's not because I'm not a great catch. I am - we all know this. I possibly just need to network more. I need to join a club of some kind or two. The only problem with this is that it always costs money to join things, and I'm totally skint. Life is expensive here as it turns out. Actually, truth be told, it's cheaper to live in Dundee than it does to live in Calgary - but I'm paying more bills since I'm out here on my own, with no room-mate. I'm Mary "freakin'" Tyler Moore. I kind of like that - most of the time. Some of the time it's lonely, but usually at those times, I log on to FB and remember that the world really is a much smaller place than it used to be. Also, I have a few friends that I spend time with, and slowly, my circle of friends is getting larger.

Mum and Dad are doing ok, they stood in line for the flippin' H1N1 shot for six and a half hours though. I guess there's this huge hype over the shot back home. Here we hear nothing of it - it's only for people who are under some danger of dying from the Swine Flu. Can you imagine, my senior citizen parents standing in line for 6.5 hours? They were quite sore the next day as it turns out. Sigh. Alberta. Nuts to Ed Stelmach. On the bright side, they seem to be coping with my absence now. I think they finally believe that I'm not coming back. I really can't go back now - I have furniture and stuff, and an entire life built here. Besides, I like it here. The weather is infinitely better than it is back home. Yes, it's wet, and chilly sometimes, but Dundonians really have no idea what cold is. I'll tell you though, Sunday we had possibly the worst weather I have experienced in a long time (including Calgary weather). It rained from early morning until late night, and it wasn't normal rain. It was the sideways kind of rain, and incredibly windy, cold, etc. Who was wearing a skirt as she walked to church? Me. I had an umbrella, but it didn't help - even a little bit. I got ridiculously soaked - to the bone. Then I had to teach Relief Society - which incidentally - went great. I love our ladies at church - they are the greatest! Sunday also marked the calling of a new Bishop here in Dundee Bingham Ward. A young fella - younger than me - got called, and he seems like a very capable Bishop. It turns out, he's done the job before. We'll all miss Bishop Snee, but life changes and moves all the time. The only thing constant really is change.

I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible" - which I will finish today. The woman - is amazing. I have to say, I can put this book in the same classification as "To Kill A Mockingbird". It's that good. I will write a review after I'm done - maybe tomorrow, maybe not. Remember when I wrote a review of her "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"? I actually met B.K. at a Slow Food event in Calgary when she was promoting that book. It seems kind of ridiculous to me now that I hadn't read this ingenious novel before meeting her. Everyone else at the event was all - "Poisonwood Bible this, Poisonwood Bible that". I had no idea that I was standing in the presence of pure genius. A multi-talented person all around, that is for sure.

Well, that's all I have to say today. It's all nonsense, but it's my nonsense. I'll try to write more nonsense more often. Love you all, and miss you. (you know who you are)


Saturday 24 October 2009


What is it that turns the switch inside the human brain? The switch that goes from being acted upon to acting for one's self? I'm not sure what it was yesterday, perhaps just the last straw really. But, today - I have a new outlook. I won't go into too much detail, but I have felt somewhat - helpless lately. Almost like, nothing I could do would change my circumstances. I had done absolutely everything I thought possible to make the changes in my life that would bring happiness, but nothing seems to be working. As I was communicating this in prayer last night, I fell asleep, and as I awoke, I had a new outlook. It is up to me, to decide - this is what I want. I may not be able to change the external factors in my life that much, but I can change how I react to them, and I can change myself, by deciding now - how I will act and what my response will be to the external factors.

2 Nephi 2:26 comes to mind...

"And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given."

I think that whether or not you believe in the Book of Mormon, as I do - this message is something that all of us regardless of our belief should adopt into our system of beliefs. We are here on this earth - to make choices and learn from them. The more we allow ourselves to be victims of circumstance, the less freedom we will hold. Helplessness is a tool of evil. (regardless of whether or not you believe evil exists as I do) We really are a lot stronger than we realize, because we are children of God. The divinity inside each of us is strong enough to conquer anything - at all. There are forces in this world that would prefer we didn't realize that. Don't be fooled though - you can do anything... and so can I.

Monday 10 August 2009

Book Review: "The 100-Mile Diet - A Year Of Local Eating" by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

I just finished this book that I've owned for about a year. It's called "The 100 Mile Diet" by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. The book chronicles their attempt to eat locally for an entire year - specifically within 100 miles of their home. They chose 100 miles because they live in Vancouver; the surroundings of which are a cornucopia of amazingly good local food. The suggested local food line is actually 200 miles. This is drawn from Dr. William Rees' Ecological Footprint calculator. However, after analyzing their location, Alisa and James decided that would be FAR too easy for them, and that 100 miles was a bit more of a challenge with them living in the Pacific Northwest. I find it remarkable how they did this - just picked up and took on the challenge from where they were at that moment. The idea was born from a meal which they miraculously prepared while staying at their cabin in Northern British Columbia where they were virtually cut off from the outside world. They had friends visiting, and the only thing they had on hand was a cabbage. So, they and their friends went into the forest to forage, and what they came up with was the most amazing meal they had ever tasted. After the meal, they went home with an idea forming in their minds.

The thing about local eating, is that it really may be one of the most important ways we can make a difference in the world. Not only is it more nutritious to eat locally (nutrients are lost with the amount of time that food is out of the ground and thus - the farther it travels), but the fact of the matter is that we have lost touch with our food chain. Do we know where our meat is coming from? Do we know what is in our meat? (see entry below re: Fast Food Nation) Do we know how our vegetables were grown? Do we know that they were ethically traded? What sorts of things are we taking into our bodies? In my mind, almost no question to do with our physical bodies is more important. What are you putting into your body? I'm not saying I know exactly what I'm putting into my body all the time, but heck - I'd like to, and I do try. Beside the nutritional, and the health factors - eating locally is a VERY effective way to lower your carbon footprint. Do you know how far your food travels to get to your plate? Do you know how many gallons of oil are in your meal? Not only are we talking about travel costs here, but also petroleum products such as pesticides and herbicides used on your food. You wouldn't believe how much energy goes into one single plate of food. That's something to think about.

There are lots of websites with excellent ideas about how to eat locally, not the least of which is Alisa and James' site... (link)

There was also a local experiment which (according to Steve) has some links to the 100 mile diet experiment. The project was called "The Fife Diet" (link) Steve knows the guy who did this one apparently.

This brings me to my sad news about the garden... :-( Well, here it is - Sue Anne went to Germany for a couple of months to do research, and Steve went to Canada for a month, and because I had no money to get on the bus to Dunino (it's £7.05 round trip to St. Andrews alone) - our garden is pretty much dead. There are things alive in it, we just need to salvage them from the weeds. So, yes - we have a garden in Fife - we were part of the Fife Diet - however sadly it turned out. How great would it be though, to grow your own food, and obtain other food locally, and live off of it for a year? Or maybe - forever? (as much as one can) I think - that's pretty much my dream. It's even possible for flat dwellers such as myself to obtain an allotment from the city council, and grow food on it. It really isn't that hard.

I may have been dubbed the "garden murderer" in our recent attempt at this sort of project, but with a reasonable amount of do-ability and elbow grease, it's totally possible to carry this out. Alisa and James are proof. Some of you may remember that I did a book review in May of 2008 about another family who did this project. It was called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver and her family. They did the same thing, but they took much time to prepare for their year of local eating. What I loved about Alisa and James, is that they just did it - right from where they were at that moment - they decided to just eat local for a year. They're true heroes in my books.

Some links to help you on your way to local eating...

Slow Food International

Slow Food UK

The Fife Diet

100 mile diet

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Scottish Association of Farmers Markets

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Books I've Been Reading

This week is already 10 times better than last week. Most of my team are back from their annual leave time, and I am busy. I feel useful, fulfilled, and overall just - you know - awake. This is a really good thing, as I've always been the kind of person who needs to feel useful. I've been reading a few books lately. I won't do full-on reviews for these ones, as there's a few of them and they weren't moving enough for an entire review. They were entertaining enough for an honourable mention though...

The first one was "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser

I never saw the movie that was based on this book, but I can tell you that the book was certainly eye opening, and taught me a fair bit about the fast food industry that I didn't know before. I've said it before in other book reviews, but the thing about food is that it touches absolutely every aspect of life as we know it. Food is basically what we're made of, food is business, food is political, food is environmental, food influences absolutely everything in the world that lives in many different ways. The thing about fast food is that it's full of crap (quite literally), it holds very little nutritional value (if any), and it is a business that is corrupt right through the entire system, from the earth to the animal, to the slaughterhouse, to the restaurant where we so greedily gobble up those cheap meals that really aren't so cheap when you look at it in it's proper perspective. Though I was averse to fast food before I read the book, I certainly am 150% more averse to it after reading it. Thanks Eric for opening our eyes further. (I know I said that none of the books were moving enough for an entire review, but if any of them really were - it was this one. It was just a while back that I finished it, and therefore is not as fresh in my mind as some of the more recent ones)

The second one was "Elephants On Acid and Other Bizarre Experiments" by Alex Boese

This was a really interesting book. I read almost the entire thing on my bus trip to Leeds which took an entire day. I discovered it when I was at Sue Anne's house. Typical kind of book to find at a Scientist's house I suppose. The title and bright colours attracted me at first, (let's be honest) but then I opened the book and found LOADS of fascinating stories about whacky experiments that have been performed through the years by Scientists with the best of intentions. The one which the author got the title from was quite possibly the saddest thing I have ever read. Some scientists thought it would be a good idea to see what an Elephant would do on LSD. Unfortunately nobody knew how much LSD an Elephant could handle, so they gave poor Tusko a whopping 297 milligrams of LSD. Unfortunately this proved to be a huge mistake. Poor Tusko died quite a painful death all in the name of Science. None of the other stories are quite as sad as that one though. They're fascinating really, and totally worth reading even for the likes of non-scientists such as myself.

The third book I read recently was "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen

You may remember that I mentioned discovering this one a few months back. Well, yes - I finally read it and umm - I have to say it was mildly entertaining. But, for a true Jane fan, it is difficult not to pick out the glaring errors that Mr. Grahame-Smith made when re-writing the classic beloved by so many. You can also tell that he doesn't really have much literary experience. It seems to me that he just had a thought one day along the lines of - "Pride and Prejudice - AND - Zombies" and thought - how brilliant is that. Likely his girlfriend made him watch the BBC P&P and the thought came to him in a blinding flash of sheer brilliance. It is a brilliant idea really, but I feel that if he really knew the characters better, and the general period that the book was written in - he could have taken it and run with it in a really intelligently creative, yet still hilarious manner. However, that being said - it was good. I laughed out loud at some points. Good fun overall. The character Elizabeth Bennet and even Mr. Darcy have totally different personalities altogether in this book. Don't expect gentility and cordiality. These people are true killing machines!!!! I mean, they take out the living (mainly Ninjas) and the un-dead with sheer ruthlessness. Any guy who's girlfriend has made them sit through BBC P&P will probably think it is the MOST brilliant thing they have ever read.

The book I'm currently reading is "Stardust" by Neil Gaiman

I am REALLY enjoying this book. Neil is a genius. How DOES he know the world of Faerie so well? I'm not sure, but I have a theory that he's been there before. I saw the movie for this book when it first came out, and I thought it was brilliant. The book though - is better as I'm discovering at the moment. This man has amazing talent. I think I'll be reading his other works in the future.

That's all I have for book reviews today folks. Happy Reading!!!

Thursday 23 July 2009

This Has Been the Longest Week of my Life!

I seem to be having a great deal of trouble finding motivation to get up and go to work this week. This is due to a couple of factors, but the main one is that my programme director has been away for a month, and I am TOTALLY caught up as far as I can go without her direction. I've been begging co-workers to share their work-load with me, and they have been very obliging in offering me things to do, but there are many things which they just have to do themselves I guess. So, most of the time, I've been moving my cursor around the screen, and just randomly clicking on things to make sure they're still there. There have been a couple of student enquiries over the last couple of days - which was exciting. But, after quickly addressing their queries, I ran out of things to do again. It's also been really really boring around the office, as EVERYONE with the exception of a skeleton staff is away. I miss the buzz, the excitement, the friendly faces...

Anyway, I only have one more painful day to endure, and then my programme director is back Monday. Unfortunately, I'll have to deliver to her the bad news that I'm leaving and going to another school within the University. I've already e-mailed her about it, but she likely hasn't read it yet. (who reads e-mails on vacation?) She knew I was likely to get the job, so it won't be so much of a surprise to her. I sure have enjoyed working with this group, so it will be hard to leave them behind. Onward and upward to new things though. I'll make new friends, and keep the old ones. That seems to be the story of my life. I get around you know... haha.

One more day of the longest week of my life. Let's hope next week is better. So far, I am expecting it to be so.

Thursday 16 July 2009

The Green Smoothie Experiment

So, I've been trying this new thing for about a couple of months now. My friend Pam in Australia told me about it, and I thought - you know the idea is sound, it makes sense, so why not give it a go?

Check out this link... (link)

The idea in it's simplicity is to take a cup of fruit of some kind, (I use mixed berries usually because their full of anti-oxidants) 2 or 3 big handfuls of something green and leafy, a cup of water, maybe a banana, maybe some honey, perhaps a bit of spice (I've been experimenting with cinnamon); put it all in a blender and drink it.

I have to say, I'm really impressed overall with how I look, feel, and generally live now that I'm on the green smoothies.

I admit, when I first went to the website, I thought - ok, what's all this? Is this some sort of pyramid scheme or something? Or an opportunity for someone to sell my e-mail address? Truth is, it absolutely isn't. These people just want to give out recipes for green smoothies. I signed up and received loads of recipes for Green smoothies. I didn't follow them though if I'm honest about it. They did give me some interesting ideas for what to put into my smoothies though. I mean, these people live in Australia, and they have every fruit/vegetable known to human kind available to them. I live in Scotland, I've got Spinach, Kale, and dark green lettuce. Plus, it can get expensive to buy all kinds of exotic fruits.

Simply done, I've been using frozen berries bought at Tesco for £1.29, putting them into my 1000 watt blender with 3 big handfuls of spinach or kale, water, banana, honey (just a touch), and cinnamon. I usually save a small container for the morning, but I've been taking the entire thing for supper. (that's me replacing meals again - I can do that since I only answer to myself) You don't have to replace meals though, you can just add it to your normal every day diet, and still reap the benefits. It's amazing.

My skin, hair, and overall energy level, health, cravings, cholesterol, GI tract (loads of fibre) have improved immensely. You should give it a go for a month, and see what happens for you. It's amazing really.

That's what I've been doing lately with my diet. Regular, normal healthy eating for Breakfast, and Lunch, extra healthy Green smoothie for dinner. I've also been trying really hard to keep up the Yoga. I have to say, those two things combined are seriously powerful...

Tuesday 14 July 2009

News From My World...

Wow, I can't believe I skipped an entire month of blogging. Sorry to my fan. Miss you mbfm. I've really not been doing too much exciting stuff for the last little while. For the most part, it's been work. So, really - I couldn't find much inspiration for blog material. Though, before I moved to Scotland, I had even less of a life than I do now, and I found loads of inspiration, so I really have no excuse whatsoever. Perhaps I was driven by the goal? Who knows, lets not psycho-analyze my blog frequencies...

Though, I do have bits of news.

Well, as you know I've been working at the University of Dundee for some time in a temporary position covering a maternity leave. My contract is up September 4th, so recently while out at lunch with my team, and also the girl who I am covering, I realized - yes - indeed she is coming back, and soon. So I was really stressed out. I've been applying for jobs as they come up in the University. I mean, if I'm internal, why wouldn't I take advantage of that and use my position to obtain an internal position within the same organization? Though, I have been applying, and interviewing to no avail. Almost every interviewer (with the exception of 1) said that there was absolutely nothing I could have done differently in my interview, but that they had found someone else with more "relevant" experience. I couldn't wrap my head around what this "relevant" experience was. After all, admin is admin, is admin. You can't get more relevant than that - but that's just my opinion. So, frustrating time.

So there I was, feeling down, and annoyed, and frustrated at my financial stress, and also slightly depressed about other, rather sluggish, immobile portions of my life. (One can guess quite easily which portions) So, what did I do? The same thing I do every time I'm feeling this way. I cried into my pillow, and poured out my heart in sad, but fervent prayer to my God. After I cried myself to sleep, I woke up the next day - and went to work as usual.

What happened?

Well, I had a meeting that morning with some colleagues, and there we all were, sitting around a table, discussing the business at hand, and joking about a bit. They were all talking about the autumn, and what they would be doing (I'm not sure what we were talking about to be honest with you, it's all a blur), but then somehow, I interjected "I don't know if I'll even have a job in the autumn" quite sadly. Then everyone went "awww", haha, and then the convener of the small meeting said "What? What's all this? You won't be working with us?" and then I explained about my contract, etc. He asked me why I hadn't applied for this job that he posted with another school he is involved with (still within the University) I really, honestly have no idea why I hadn't applied for the job, except to say that perhaps I was just a little bit sad, and perhaps at the point where I had lost a bit of hope. (I know how pathetic that sounds, but it's true - haha) Anyway, they arranged with HR to make it all legal, and get my application in, references, etc. So, there was a little hope, I had an interview lined up - that very day. There were other things which happened that day which gave me a bit of hope in the other portions of my life that need attention, so umm, that was really good.

So, long story short - I had the interview - swept them off their feet, and now I am the happy occupier of a permanent, full-time position at the University of Dundee. I'll be working at the Graduate School of Natural Resources Law, Policy and Management. Which incidentally, my good friend is the class president of. I'll be crunching numbers as I have before. (to be honest, many years ago, but those skills don't really go away if you truly love numbers) I also have more hope in general about my life and portions thereof. I'm hopeful things will change for the better - soonish.

There's other news...

At church, in my congregation, I was asked to take a leadership position in the Women's organization. The position is that of 1st Counselor in the Relief Society - for those who know what that means. When my Bishop asked me to take the calling, I was all - ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!! Because after all, I'm me, and with all of my struggles as late, I haven't been at my best, or even my strongest. Here I was thinking, how can I be an example to these ladies, who are likely much better prepared for such a responsibility? I realized of course, that God knows what he's doing, and if I'm going to be here a while, I might as well be doing something useful. So, I took the calling. So far, it's been a prime motivator to do better overall in my life, and to get out and be among people / serve people, not feeling sorry for myself so much.

So, that's news in the world of Becky. I also recently went on a trip to Leeds for a week, and visited a fair number of my extended family. It was lovely, and really really needed. It's nice to know that I have family not too far away. Here's a few pictures of the Yorkshire Dales that I took whilst there...

These pictures were taken at a place called "Blubberhouses". How did such a lovely place receive such a ridiculous name you ask? So did I. So, I looked it up where all of the answers are - wikipedia...


* From the blueberry: Hargrove's History of Knaresborough.
* From the Blue Boar, a former inn.
* Early spellings include "Bluburgh", "Bluborrow", "Bluburhouse", (1172) "Bluberhusum". These may come from:-
o Anglo-Saxon burh = "fort".[2]
o From "Blueberg" = "blue mountain".[3]
o Anglo-Saxon bluberhūs = "the house(s) which is/are at the bubbling stream"[4], with a later regularized plural; the -um form came from the Anglo-Saxon dative plural case æt bluberhūsum = "at the houses which ...".

So there you have it. No, it has nothing whatsoever to do with whale blubber, or blubbering (as in crying)

p.s. If anyone wants to see all of the pictures from my trip, they can see them here... (link)

Saturday 9 May 2009

Book Review: "He's Just Not That Into You" by Greg Behrendt & Liz Tucillo

I admit, I've known about this book for years and years; but never thought about reading it until recently. I haven't seen the movie adaptation of this self-help book that has recently been released in theaters, I just thought that perhaps I would give this book a go - as I've been noticing lately that I REALLY have no idea what men want, or what I've been doing wrong all of these years. It's pretty sad that I'm 33 years old, and still haven't ever really had a normal, healthy relationship with a man. I'm a good person, I'm attractive, I'm not crazy, and I actually have a lot to offer; so for years - it has baffled me. My friend - bless him - said to me "well, you've only just recently lost all of that weight - so really it makes sense that you're not married yet". Honestly - he meant well. That really can not be used as an excuse though - because I do know plenty of girls that are quite obese who are very very happily settled down in relationships with men. So - what's been the problem with me?

Apparently I've been laboring under mistaken impressions all these years. I've been chasing the wrong men - the ones who aren't that into me. I've been chasing period - which was my first mistake. Unfortunately, I've missed out on all of the ones that were into me in the process.

Greg (my new best friend) and Liz have laid it all out in simple terms for us (because men really aren't that complicated)

He's just not into you if...

1. He's not asking you out
2. He's not calling you
3. He's not dating you
4. Not having sex with you (or in my case - not sexually attracted to me - as I don't do pre-marital sex)
5. He's having sex with someone else
6. He only wants to see you if he's drunk (here's a big red flag)
7. He doesn't want to marry you
8. He's breaking up with you
9. He's disappeared on you
10. He's married (or other insane variations of being unavailable)
11. He's a selfish jerk, a bully, or a really big freak

Any and all women can present an argument that they think is pretty sound against at least 1 or 2 of these points. Greg has heard every one of these arguments, and he addresses each one - tearing down the wall of excuses that we have made for men all of these years. That's right - we're the one making excuses for them. Apparently in the words of one man - "they just want to be left alone" - this wasn't in the book - it's a direct quote from someone I know.

You know, from the title you might think that this is a book that would make you feel like dirt - thinking of all the stupid things you've done over the years; all because you thought some guy was worth the effort, and even though they didn't put forth any effort to nurture the relationship - you knew they were secretly desperately in love with you - just scared.

Nope, the book doesn't make you feel like crap. Not at all in fact. Greg is right - we are - all of us - superfoxes. Super.Foxes. get it in your head - you are an attractive, sexy woman. Now, stop wasting all that time with some schmuck who isn't into you. Find the great guy who is. That's the basic message of the book, and it's sound. It really is you know.

I stand by what I said before - about the sexual revolution. It's screwed everything up. I really believe that women used to know these things. Somehow - somewhere between Feminist marching and talk shows - we became confused, co-dependent fantasy-laden love junkies. It's ok to want to be in love. We all want to feel like we belong to someone. It's not ok to be a victim of foolish self perpetuated lies and make excuses for men who really aren't worth our attention.

I'm not saying that these guys aren't good people too. (I have many very good friends who are men) I'm just saying that they're not into us. Therefore, they are not worth our efforts.

It's opened up a whole new world of possibility for me. Men - let me say - if you are into me - you better be asking me on dates, because I won't be asking you. I'm an old fashioned girl.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

2 Simple Things

I just finished my Yoga Practice tonight. It's the first time I've done Yoga since April 11th - so that's 10 days without Yoga - even though I keep telling myself that I'll do it every day. Well, today and for the last week really - I haven't felt like myself. Unfortunately, I have not been blessed with normal body chemistry, so when I take something out of the "magical formula" for weight loss I've been doing over the last 3 years - unbeknownst to me (until I REALLY notice it), it seriously affects my overall well being. Weight loss is only a side benefit from practicing Yoga really.

I think it does something with the glands when you do those twists, balances, etc - like squeezes them, or energizes them or something - but somehow - good chemistry comes out of it.

I feel 100 times better now than I did on my walk home today. Clearly - for me that means - walking is not as beneficial for me as Yoga is. Walking for 2 - 40 minute intervals every single day actually may trigger Hyper-Cortisol production. Anyway, I'm seeing the Doctor on Thursday to see if we can change something (medication perhaps) - because I've been gaining weight and suffering other unpleasant symptoms. There is no normal explanation for me doing so (as I really haven't changed that much about my lifestyle with the exception of a few "emotional eating" days - which was likely a product of the disease as well.) So, I've decided that instead of making a grand scheme/plan for weight loss - I shall do two simple things. My lifestyle is fine in every other way (as far as I'm concerned). I shall...

1. Do at least a little Yoga every single day. (7 days a week) I shall perhaps make up a spreadsheet with tick boxes to remind myself that I haven't done it yet for the day - so that it gets done.

2. Cut out refined sugar entirely from my diet. I shall use Honey, and bake good stuff from time to time, but as far as Candy, Juice, Pop, and Cakes go - they are out - in their entirety. They are like poison to my body. We all know this is true. It's as dangerous to me as pouring Battery Acid down my throat. (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it is very detrimental to my health)

I just have to accept that I'm not like other people, and I can't live the lifestyle other people live. (especially not in this country) Therefore, I have determined to do these two things.

Friday 17 April 2009

Watch This Space...

Sue Anne, Steve, and I have been digging a garden in Sue Anne's back yard. It's great to have a friend who rents a cottage - with actual land. I wish I had actual land. I just have a wee flat. Most people here only have a wee flat. Steve also has only a flat, no land. So, the 3 of us are taking advantage of what land we can use, and working towards growing our own food this year. I am super duper excited about it too. We've been tearing up grass and trying to get it all sorted for the last 4 weeks or so. Last week we put our wee greenhouses out and staked them to the ground. In the greenhouses, we are growing tomatoes and peppers. We bought 2 varieties of tomatoes - Money Maker and Shirley. You can see in the picture that we are using a grow-bag - which is really useful if you want to see quick results. Steve bought 4 different varieties of Peppers (which I am unable to name at the moment - but they look good) We put these in our smaller greenhouse.

So, that's one project we have. We've also used grow bags for our Blue and Oca Red Potatoes...

I wish I had taken pictures of the yard the way it looked before so that you can see what we've done to it. Sufficeth to say, we've done a lot of digging with what little time we had.

With this strip of land (which we dug up from sod)...

...we are going to lay down some fabric and plant vegetable seeds tomorrow. Among the vegetable seeds we have, there are Carrots (Purple, White, AND orange), Beets (yellow and maybe purple), peas, beans, bright lights - chard, cabbage, spring onions, yellow zucchini (what Britons call Courgettes), and other things I'm having trouble remembering at the moment. We have to get up super early tomorrow, because we've had a late start for something like 4 weeks in a row, and have tonnes of work to get done. We also have a commitment to climb the Lomond Hills tomorrow afternoon, so that will cut into gardening time substantially.

We've actually planted wee leeks, and purple sprouting Broccoli in this part of the garden already, but have a lot more to plant. Here you can see the Broccoli, but the wee leeks may be harder to spot...

On this side...

You can't see them, but there's DEVIL ROOTS in there. By that I mean - roots of which there seems to be no end of. This has been my bane for a few weeks now. Tomorrow, if I get a chance, I shall finish cleaning it up, and perhaps get it looking presentable enough to plant something. We're thinking though, that because of the devil roots, we'll just plant something that needs a shallow root system - like squash. We've even discussed raised beds a bit, but that always costs so much, so we'll work with what we have.

Some highlights of the garden...

RHUBARB!!!!!!!!!!! I found these 2-year old Rhubarb advertised on the University weekly newsletter. 3 of them for £7. They're "Early Red" variety - good for pies!!!!!!!!!! I'm a wee bit over-excited about that part. Hopefully we'll get an excellent crop from these lovely plants.

Sue Anne unleashed her ample creative skills and organized this lovely rock garden - with adorable moss-covered rocks and wee plants - along the edge of our veggie patch.

The yard in all it's splendor. Note the 3 chairs and BBQ. The BBQ has become our very good friend - as it always is.

The Garden Mascot - Miss Meta.

And here - just for the fun of it is Steve doing his Physio exercises. Heehee.

So - yeah - watch this space. I'll take pictures as we go along and see progression in the exotic vegetable garden. I say exotic, simply because we all seem to agree that vegetables of unconventional colour are far more exciting than plain ones. They probably contain more varieties of phytonutrients as well. The more the better I say. Must get to bed early tonight. Busy day tomorrow.

Thursday 16 April 2009

This Lady Has Seriously Made My Day...

You have to watch the video all the way through to understand. Unfortunately I can't embed it, so you'll have to go to You Tube and watch it. Here's the link... (link)

You go Susan. You show them girl. She lives not too far away from me you know. In my books she's already as good as Elaine Paige, and hopefully she'll have the chance to prove it now.


Friday 10 April 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!?!?!

What's all this? My favorite novel of all time turned into a zombie parody? I'm sure the author is missing many of the finer character-development points that my dear Jane has put into the beloved novel; however - it looks to make entertaining reading. I think next month, when I have money, I may invest in this book. It's only £6.99, but still, I do have to watch the pennies. Check out the wikipedia article... (link)

I was hopeful the author would make Wickham a zombie who eats Lydia. However, there is no such luck. Only a true P&P fan - who harbors a hatred for those characters would wish for that. I'm kind of intrigued by the ninja fight at the end between Lady Catherine De Bourgh's army of Ninjas and Elizabeth. I've often been able to identify with Elizabeth's character - so to see her in full Ninja action would be great.

I wonder what the movie would be like? It would have to be done in a comedy manner - such as "Shaun of the Dead" and the like.

I'm sure there are people out there who would think that a parody such as this is almost sacrilegious. I can see no harm in it; and I'm Jane's biggest fan...

Wednesday 8 April 2009

My Simple Life

I'm back on board with music. (as you can hear) I decided to pick 12 simple songs that mean something to me instead of every single song that ever meant something to me. I hope you enjoy it.

I've had a pretty simple, average day today. Nothing out of the ordinary, except to say that I had a nice dinner with a very dear friend that I've made here in Dundee. My life is pretty average I would say. I know everybody back home thinks I'm having some sort of grand adventure. Granted, some days are pretty adventurous; but overall - it's just normal, every day life here in Scotland. Except that normal, every day life includes Scots - with accents, and a few cultural differences. I get up in the morning, rush around to get ready to go to work on time (as some of you know - this is not much different at all), get to work on time every single day (you also know that this IS out of the ordinary - as I do have to have chronic tardiness issues), work all day long, with an hour for lunch - where I walk around Dundee's lovely city centre. Then when my working day is done, I walk home, eat a simple dinner, goof off on the Internet with my friends, read a little, do some Yoga, maybe bake something, and go to bed at a ridiculous hour - just to do it all again the next day. That's life every day for me in Scotland.

When I can afford it, and/or when friends are doing something a little adventurous, I go and see cool stuff. Next week-end I'm hiking up in the Lomond hills. It's not much of a hike - just a wee hill really, but it should be scenic. This week-end I'll be working on my garden with Steve, (Sue Anne has other plans Saturday) and on Sunday, we will enjoy a lovely Easter dinner put together by Sue Anne. I mean - really - my life hasn't changed that much. The things that have changed are the people in my life, the weather, the scenery, and well, I now have a view from my window that is insanely incomparable to the non-scene from my basement bedroom in Calgary. I also have ocean instead of prairie. I eat fish now. It is waaaaaaaaaay better fresh than frozen. Who knew? In Alberta we really don't know what Fish is supposed to taste like - as it turns out. Fresh fish is delicious. I still have to struggle a little to eat it at times, but it tastes great.

One big difference in my life when I compare now to when I was in Calgary - is that I live alone. I have to admit, I really, really like living alone. I'm not saying I wouldn't like a man invading my little world. I certainly would enjoy that, but living alone is a really nice change for me. I don't have to answer to anyone, I can eat in my own kitchen, wash my own dishes, clean my own messes, and just generally do whatever I want in my own house. It's really great. This is the very first time I have experienced this phenomenon of living alone. I realize that it isn't for everyone, but I highly recommend it. When I'm lonely, I call a friend, or visit with a friend, or just listen to music or whatever. I have a pretty satisfying life. I'm not saying it's perfect - by any stretch of the imagination, but it is content - for now.

Now and then, I experience these moments of perfection. Have you ever had that sort of experience? Where you're sitting there, and you realize that life can't get much better than that moment - right then. It's very brief, and then life returns to normal. I've had a few of those lately, and I haven't had that feeling in a very long time. So, I must be on the right track. I'm not saying there hasn't been trials. Oh, there's been trials! But, that's nothing new, so I just keep plugging away.

There's this greeting card I have on my wall (I've had it for like - 9 years), and I have (obviously) no idea who wrote it. It is somewhat cheezy, but it's a good reminder to me of how I should view my life...

"As you journey through life, choose your destinations well - but do not hurry there. You will arrive soon enough. Wander the back roads and forgotten paths, keeping your destination in your heart. Like the fixed point of a compass. Seek out new voices, strange sights, and ideas foreign to your own. Such things are riches for the soul. And if, upon arrival, you find that your destination is not exactly as you had dreamed, do not be disappointed. Think of all you would have missed but for the journey there, and know that the true worth of your travels lies not in where you come to be at journey's end, but in who you come to be along the way."

That's pretty much - the story of my life.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Home Grown

I've been watching this show on the BBC iplayer. I don't own a TV, so all of my entertainment comes from the internet. Thankfully, I live in a country where the greatest TV in the world is produced. It's also free, and you can get it on the internet (for a limited time) if you don't have a TV of your own.

Anyway - "Grow Your Own Drugs" with James Wong - Ethnobotanist extraordinaire is a really exciting show. I saw the title weeks ago and thought - oh yeah - hmm, this is Britain is it? They teach people how to home grow. Then, out of curiosity (such a curious girl), I started watching it, and it turns out to be right up my alley. James uses plants of all kinds - easily available right here in Britain to make home remedies - the way everybody used to. They're useful home remedies as well, and it makes complete sense to me that they would work. Obviously, some remedies worked better for some people on the show than others; and James made disclaimers stating that on each episode. The thing is, that if it might work for you, then why wouldn't you try it. After all, science can back up the chemicals contained in the plants, and where do you think the pharmaceutical companies get those chemicals???? Obviously from the plants. It would be worth it as well - knowing exactly what you're taking, and exactly where it came from. Having said that, you also need to be careful when using these home remedies, because plants can be just as dangerous as modern/traditional medicine if used improperly. You should give plants the same respect you would to drugs bought at the store. James also said that in each episode.

I got so excited about the show - that I found James' book on Amazon for £9.34 including delivery. This is pretty exciting, because the day after I purchased it, I found it at WH Smith for £14.99. I thought to myself - "suckers..."

James taught me how to make mouthwash out of Thyme; sore muscle treatments out of chillies and mustard; constipation remedies out of figs and senna; an Athlete's foot treatment out of garlic (which also makes a nice salad dressing); an insect bite and sting treatment out of plantain leaves; Varicose Vein treatment out of Horse Chestnuts, and Vodka; a PMS treatment (sign me up) out of Chaste Berry Tea; and last but not least (this is what sold me) - he taught me how to make CRYSTALLIZED GINGER out of ginger and umm - sugar for Travel Sickness. Oh James - how I love you.

Apparently you can get a Ginger root (which is really a rhizome) and plant it in a giant pot, put it in your front window, and grow ginger yourself. I'm going to do it - obviously. I'm also going to make my own Crystallized Ginger, of course. When I do, I shall show you how it worked out. I need to buy myself a few tools in order to do so, but when I do - I shall be making the Crystallized Ginger. I shall also try other things over time. It's nice to have the book so that I know how.

If you live in the UK, I think you can still catch it for the next few days on the iplayer. So - you should if you get the chance. If you don't - umm - look for it on amazon? or ebay? Or perhaps Satellite TV?

You can find his recipes here... (link)

James is also adorable - have you noticed? I wonder if he's un-attached...