Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour 2012

Earth Hour is tonight at 8:30 pm.  Last year on this date we were driving home from somewhere during Earth Hour and it wasn't safe or legal to drive without lights, but we left the lights off when we got home and lit our one oil lamp. 

After that Alice wanted to have "old fashioned" nights on Sundays at home.  The oil lamp was terrible as a light source though.  We couldn't read by it, could barely play a card game in its weak glow.  We only did it a couple of times.  Really, it's still light when the kids go to bed at this time of year.  It would make more of an impression to be remember of our electricity usage in the winter.

However, it does make me think annually about our electricity, water and gas usage and I do tend to use a bit less each year in spite of the electronics that the kids are starting to add to our home.  They each have a camera and an MP3 or ipod.  I try to get them to shower or bathe more too.   I ride my bike a bit more every year, especially after last summer when all of us were finally able to ride. 

In spite of what we do, I did a survey online at and according to this, my footprint is higher than average.  Hmm.  I don't know if I agree with that, but I'll continue to try to improve it. 

Last year I bought one solar light for the garden.  I know this is maybe silly, but I wanted to know how much light it would cast if I brought it indoors in the evening.  It didn't work.  It was a pathetic light that worked for about two nights and then died. 

I'm going to try it again, starting tonight with a better light. 

A couple of weeks ago I won a collection of earth-friendly products from a school event. 

It included 3 solar garden lights, a package of flourescent bulbs (not shown), and a windup flashlight. 

I love the flashlight.  It also has an alarm on it (for scaring bears?  thieves?), a radio and the ability to charge our non-existant cell phone.  Cool.

But the amount of solar electricity that is wasted on the roof of our garage needs to be captured.  I'd love to mount some panels there.  Today I mounted two girls there to soak up some of the heat.  It was their idea really.

Ah, spring is here and it's so welcome.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Latest in eyewear

They told us this was the latest fashion.

Always ones to follow the advice of others, we went for it. 

I'm not sure we're setting any trends here, but that's okay.  We're funky and proud of it. 

After almost two weeks of duct tape and bandaids, I think Yvon would even find these glasses an improvement.

But this is what we really settled on. 

They don't look as funky as I thought, really.  They are a different color than my previous pair, but almost the same size and style.  I wanted "Look-at-me" glasses and I don't think I quite got it.  I'm always more conservative in reality than I am in my head.   I like them a lot though.

And Yvon's are thin and tapeless and seamlessly bifocal.  Much better!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Relaxed and happy

I love this picture.

This is the picture of a man relaxed and happy while travelling on board a train.  Returning to his beloved children.

With duct tape on his glasses. 

It's a fashion statement and I think he pulls it off rather well, actually. 

However, duct tape doesn't hold as well as bandaids, so it's been replaced.  Red Green may not approve, but we all do what we have to do.  New glasses coming soon!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life in the Mountains

When I showed Beth some of these pictures, her comment was "They make me want to move to the mountains."  There were hardly any for sale, but the realty listings show that anything in Jasper would cost 2-3x what our house is worth.  Luckily I don't want to move to the mountains anyway.

The style of these homes fit in so well with their surroundings and they are beautiful where they are.    

This is the Park Superintendent's house and one of the biggest house in the main townsite. 

They would look odd in my neighbourhood of identical bungalows, but in Jasper they look warm and cozy. I wonder if they are. There was plenty of plastic coating some of those windows.

The last photo is the B&B we stayed at for two nights.  It was nice, but the sheets were silk and we spent all night yanking the quilts to get them to stop sliding off.  Otherwise, I'd recommend Calla's Place to anyone.  The host was very nice and the price was totally right ($60, including continental breakfast). 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jasper Brewery Tour

Well, I thought I'd have more time than usual while in Jasper to blog, but I didn't.  I did have time, but I wasn't hanging around in the room with internet connection blogging.  I'll catch up now.

The deal we had include train tickets for two.  The train left Edmonton verrrry early in the morning, maybe in order to catch a sunrise but it was too cloudy for that when we travelled. 

I loved a few things about the train.
     1)  Leg room!  The seats were far apart and even had lazyboy leg rests that you could
          raise for further comfort.
     2)  The ability to move around.  I did that a lot.
     3) The view from the dome car was gorgeous.  Hard to capture in a photo though. 
     4) If it snows outside the window, you don't have to worry about it.  It obstructs your view
         of the mountains, but you don't have to drive in it or anything.

I'd love to take the kids on a trip this way one day, but for now it is just too expensive.  Our trip was paid for so I wasn't concerned right now. 

When we got there, it was still early in the day.  On a Tuesday, the streets were deserted.  It felt a bit odd.  In fact, we hardly saw more than 5 people in one spot until we entered the Thrift Shop in the basement of a church.  That place was bustling!  Perhaps it was the $1 price on all of the clothing, even most winter coats.  Or perhaps it was because it's only open for a few hours and everyone feels the need to shop frantically.  I felt it!  I bought two pieces of fabric.

We used our free dinner and brewery tour on the first day already and it set the scene for our food for the rest of the trip.

I don't drink beer or like beer, but I do like the smell of the hops and barley. 

The brewmaster seemed to really know his stuff too.  I learned that malted barley just means sprouted.  To malt wheat, you sprout that.  That explains why Yvon can still drink beer with no ill effects.  Sprouting wheat or barley lowers the gluten content quite a bit.  A lot of people with gluten intolerance can still eat sprouted wheat breads.  And for most beers, barley is used which already has a lower gluten content. 

There is no bottling of any of their beer because they really only sell to the restaurant above.  It's tapped directly to their bar.

 There's a bit of attitude about that in the restaurant.  :-) 

Yvon enjoyed a couple of varieties, but liked their smoked porter beer the best.  It wasn't even on their menu yet.   There's the advantage to taking their free tour. 

Yvon didn't seem to mind drinking my free beer either. 

We ordered about the only gluten-free items on their menu, but there was no compromise happening here.  The food was terrific.  Cornflake crusted chicken, stacked on asparagus, roasted peppers, and the garlicy-cheesy mashed potatoes are hiding under it all.  Some sort of hollandaisy sauce was drizzled on top.  Yumm!

Yvon's was very similar, with a chunk of steak instead of chicken and a reduced balsamic glaze I think.  He'll almost always choose red meat over chicken.

I don't think we were expecting such a good meal from the Brewery Restaurant.  I thought maybe something like Earls, but we went back for another meal later in the week.  Just to test the consistency of their service and product, you know.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Normally I don't announce that we're away because that's perhaps not the safest thing for a blogger to do.  But it's not like we've left the girls and the house unattended!  I'm sure things are being well taken care of in our absence.  And we will be eternally grateful!

Pictures so far....

What a great way to travel!  It's smooth and comfortable and who cares if the snow is swirling outside?  We're not driving in it.  And we won't be driving for five days. 

I've got more time on  my hands now than ever, so I'll keep blogging while I'm here. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Updated "made by ev" site

I was doing so well here for the last two weeks.  Now I've been a bit busier with the "made by ev" site.  I'm trying to get some stock together for the upcoming sale in April and hoping to be able to sell some things through the site as well. 

Check it out if you're interested. 

And here's a review of our concert on the weekend.  I'm hoping to get a copy of the video and audio recording of it.  The pieces have been running through my head all week, driving me crazy.  Somehow it's less annoying when it's actually audible.  It leaves room in my head for all of the other voices. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Facebook Wall

Carmina Burana.  Better than chocolate, but chocolate has never made my feet so sore.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Carmina Burana

Besides singing for years with church choirs, I have really only sung with two other choirs.  The first was the Da Camera Singers just after I married.  It's the only choir I've ever had to audition for and I can still sing most of my audition piece by memory because I sang it so often, fearing I wouldn't make it into the choir. 

I knew the conductor and he had suggested I audition, so it really wasn't something I should have feared, but I simply don't do solos.  They freak me out and make my voice all shaky and quavery.  Why do they make choristers sing solos to audition?  I would think they want a voice that blends well.

Anyway, I got in and sang with them for two years, quitting when we moved overseas.  I still have my black folder and some original music (shhh!!) because I left the group sort of suddenly and didn't find the time to return it before moving. 

That folder haunts me, actually.  It's a useful thing to own a black music folder, but not if it is stamped in gold with the name of the choir from whom you stole it.  I can't use it in public.  Ever.  It brings all of the guilt right back.  It doesn't matter that they all have a new style folder now and wouldn't care.  I care and the guilt runs deep. 

The other choir was in Melbourne.  A university choir with talented singers and immature minds.   I dragged a Canadian friend to join with me so that I wouldn't be the only "old" member of the choir.   Two concerts stand out in my mind. 

Carmina Burana and Handel's Messiah.  Two very different pieces, to be sure.

Because of the bawdy lyrics of Carmina Burana, a lot of time was spent translating the Latin into the rowdy pub songs that they are (or that some are).  Only to truly understand the emotion we were supposed to be expressing.  Yeah, right.  That's were the immature university minds came in.  Anyway, it was lots of fun to sing and I'm doing it again this weekend.

Da Camera is very different than my university choir.  The concentration is on the correct pronunciation of the German Latin versus Italian Latin (versus Pig Latin) and not one actual translation has been mentioned in our practices. Interesting.  And having read the translation again, they aren't as giggle-causing as I remember.   

The occasion?  I haven't joined Da Camera again.  Partly because of the fear of rejection after another audition, but also because of time.  No, they are celebrating their 50th Anniversary and welcomed alumni back in for a joint concert.  Without any auditions!  So I'm back. 

The concert is on Sunday afternoon and should be really good.  Much different that my first singing of this work because there are sooo many people involved.  Around 90 choristers (including the current Da Camera Singers and the willing & able alumni), plus two grand pianos, 45-member children's choir and a percussion group.  And everyone I've spoken to or sung beside is amazingly good!   I can't wait to hear it with the percussion during tomorrow's practice.

I don't have any tickets for the concert, but you can get them at the door (and get more info here)

Now, what folder am I going to use?  I think I'll bring my church choir folder instead of admitting any guilty crimes.  I don't want them to kick me out now!

Da Camera Singers  and Ev present
Carmina Burana
Sunday, 3:00 pm, First Presbyterian Church