Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Office Lunchroom

This morning at work, I was busy doing..well, work, when a coworker-Charles- came into my office.
“Do you know who keeps turning down the thermostat in the lunchroom?” He asks
“I might”, I replied with a knowing smile (It’s me)
“Don’t say that you are the one who has been doing that.It’s freezing in there!”

Here is some info on the lunchroom. It’s on the second story, with giant windows. Charles, an older male employee, gathers there with other older, male employees twice a day to blab and complain. Despite the light coming in from the windows, they turn on all the lights and crank up the heat to 30+. At lunch time, the room fills with them and early twenty-somethings, some of whom are temporary employees. The scene would be akin to dining on the surface of the sun with loud, harsh laughter and overlapping conversations, complaining on the “older” side of the room and plenty of ‘likes’ and ‘omygods’ on the “young” side. (It is quite the study in age stereotypes.) After an hour or so, all of them leave and go back to their respective offices. Oh and they leave the thermostat at 30+ for the remainder of the day!

Once everyone has left, I sneak into the room, turn off the lights and turn down the thermostat to a more reasonable 22-23 C. If I snuck in while they were still there and turned it down, I would have four cranky old men bleeting at me, so I wait. I have probably saved management a bundle in energy costs by doing this daily.

So back to our conversation.
Me: Do you have to crank it up to 30? Can’t you turn it up just a few degrees?
Charles: “We’re cold. You’re all bundled”, he motions at my sweater. (He’s wearing a thin long sleeved shirt)
Me: “I’m wearing winter clothes since it’s winter”
Charles: “Well we’re mad about this.”
Me: “Then you need to find something else (ie. something important) to complain about”

Charles mutters and walks away. Another coworker comes in and says “Well that’s Charles. He likes to complain”
Me: “Well, normally I like him..”
Coworker, astounded: “You do??”

Most of the time, I do like Charles and his buddies. While, I don’t eat lunch in the lunchroom, I do like to chat and joke with them while I reheat my lunch. But they seem to be under the mistaken idea that this room is theirs alone and no one else should be comfortable.

Of course, this is a more extreme example, but in general, I just don’t understand the whole “lunchroom culture”:
Inane conversations/loud arguments+blistering heat+fights over microwave use and unwashed dishes.

The main time I use this room is for my morning break, I eat my morning bagel or oatmeal and peruse through the magazines. It’s very nice. But by lunch hour, the lights are all flicked on, the heat is cranked and it gets LOUD! Some people at my work consider me “weird” for not wanting to spend every lunch hour moment with them in said uncomfortable environment. But how anyone can enjoy this situation is beyond me.

Anyways, the point of this post: I know it’s cold out and sometimes it’s grey. But if you are lucky enough to have a lunchroom with windows, you don’t have to crank up the heat to greenhouse levels and turn on all the lights. Also, call me crazy, but I think wearing sweaters in the winter is probably a good idea.

Photo: http://www.motifake.com/125630

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January, January Style

This past weekend saw the beginning of actual winter. Late December-early January was unusually warm around here. But now, it’s back to the regular crazy ‘ol Ottawa winter weather of -20 to -40C! It’s so cold that even the self proclaimed ‘I love winter and therefore everyone else should too’ guy at my work has been staying inside. Although he did go jogging very briefly on Saturday. He’s a crazy, crazy man! (Still nice though)

It’s times like this I wish that I had a Tauntaun, aka:

So, so cute! I’m not sure how keen Hubby would be if I brought home a giant, wooly bipedal alpaca (or sorry, “snow lizard”.  Which is weird because they don’t look like lizards!), but they have to be quicker than taking the bus or driving in the snow right? 😉

Since it was so cold this past weekend, I tried to limit my outdoor exposure, but my mom mentioned two clothing stores were having 50-75% off sales, so of course I had to go and check them out with her. The best thing I found was this jacket:

It’s all nice and soft and I’m looking forward to warmer days in which to wear it. But until then, it’s long johns, bulky sweaters, salt stained jeans and staticky hair. This leads me to a question for you readers: Do you think it is possible to look genuinely fashionable in the winter and still keep warm? And I’m not talking 0 degrees here, I’m talking VERY cold weather. Does keeping up your appearance-Shaving, waxing, makeup-take a backseat in the winter?

Tauntaun image: http://iristook.blogspot.com/2010/06/old-wives-tale-camel.html

Taylor’s Genuine Food and Wine Bar

On Friday evening, I met an acquaintance at Taylor’s Genuine Food and Wine Bar for dinner and of course, wine.

Silly me, I forgot to bring my camera, but I will provide a general description of the place: It’s small, with a bar and kitchen on one side of the room and a line up of tables on the other. There is very little wiggle room. The bathrooms are located in the basement and it is very cold down there.

 The space or lack thereof and frozen tundra bathrooms are the negative side of Taylor’s, but the most important part-the food, is phenomenal, particularly the dessert! I had the lobster* (Hey, if you’re gonna go to an expensive place, might as well jump in head first or is that just my crazy thinking? O.k. never mind!) The sea creature was served by itself and in a little puff pastry. Damn good! My dining partner said her beef was undercooked a bit and it did look a bit bloody, but she seemed reluctant to complain to the staff about it.

Anyways, dessert came around and I got something called “Pot du Crème”. It was a mouse type dessert with a jelly-type topping and these AMAZING swirls on the side! It’s been a long time since I’ve had a dessert that good! I wish I could have taken a photo of it! The staff was friendly and helpful and the mood of the place was calm. Or it was until a girl at the table next to us, who was celebrating her birthday perhaps a bit too much, dropped a bottle of wine on the floor. Then the entire place when silent and there may have been a gasp or two. It was kind of comical actually and luckily the bottle didn’t shatter, it just landed with a thud! Lesson: Don’t get drunk and drop precious wine in a wine bar!

After dinner, I was pretty tired (I made a later than normal reservation at the last minute), so I called it a night. The bill was indeed steep, but I was happy to check out this much talked about restaurant finally and enjoyed my experience. I’m hoping my next food outting will be to the new cupcake shop “The Flour Shoppe“.

*For the 100% vegetarians/vegans, Taylor’s does provide a vegetarian option as a main course. Admittedly, they could have more, but that is true for a lot of restaurants*

Picture: http://www.decidetostayfit.com/blog/health-and-wine-101-drinking-and-p90x

2011: Year of the Locals

After replacing our computer in December, I soon realized that I would have to transfer all of my old iTunes songs onto the new computer. This coincided with the time that I was starting to tire of said old tunes.

So what’s a bored, lazy gal like me to do? Download new songs of course!

To find new musical goodies, I ran searches and came across some great gems. But the best thing I did was start listening to the CBC Canadian Songwriters station on my computer at work. Pure, Canadian gold streams 24/7 online. I’ve been discovering new artists and rediscovering old ones that were once featured on Much Music (Back when they actually still played music. Those were the days!)

Not all the artists on the CBC are strictly local (ie. Ottawans) but many are Canadians who are somewhat under-represented on other radio stations.

After reading this post on Laura’s blog, I’ve also been investigating local and national writers. I decided to start local with Matthew Firth’s “Suburban Pornography“, which I received from my lovely parents for Christmas:

Anyone who said Can fiction is “boring” really needs to check themselves, because this book is anything but! Firth stays away from the flowery language that can plague writers and focuses on the blue or no collar in this collection of short stories about garbage men, bums, soup kitchen workers, truck drivers, etc and their zany, gritty daily lives. One reviewer (Dan Fante) said it best

 “My kinda stuff. Matthew Firth can write. He can write like a sonofabitch. Buy this book!”

High praise indeed!  I also bought novelist and blogger Laura Best’s book “Bitter, Sweet” in the mail and can’t wait to tackle it next, followed by other talented Canadian writers.

In this day and age, we have access to so much entertainment, but oddly enough people still limit themselves to the often very mediocre movies, books and music offered up by popular media. There are tons of “little guys” out there in our own communities who are too often overlooked, which is a shame!

 Who are some cool local writers/artists/musicians you have discovered lately?

Picture: http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/suburban-porn-by-matthew-firth/

New and Improved Drawing Class!

Last night was the first class of my new drawing class. I call it Sketching 2.0, a much needed upgrade to the last one taught by a nincompoop!

After the long trek home and eating dinner, I zoomed over to the Shenkman Centre. It turns out I didn’t need to rush, because the room was fairly easy to find (Well, o.k they put the wrong room in the description but the correct one was right across the hall and the only one that was lit) I walked into a large studio to find a blond woman drawing the different types of pencils on the black board. The instructor-Bryna Cohen-turned around and we got to talking. Conversation was relaxed and there was no weirdness or bullshit. She said that there wouldn’t be a model for the first class because she wanted to cover some other stuff first, but promised that the model would be present for next week and the weeks that followed.

Soon the other students-Two teenage girls and an older woman showed up and we got to work. Our first exercise came fresh out of “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain“. We had to reproduce a Picasso drawing upside down and let me tell you, it was no easy feat, but it really reinforced the importance of breaking images down to their basic shapes. Here is mine:

 After finishing that exercise, we explored shading, visual memory and created some self portraits, using mirrors propped up on upside down yogurt containers. (Mine isn’t done so I won’t be posting it yet) Bryna is very well educated in visual arts, attending quite a few art schools over the years and has been teaching for 20+ years. In other words, unlike said nincompoop, the woman knows her stuff! And that’s the way it should be! No one should be allowed to instruct others unless they know what they are doing and serve as an inspiring, positive, relaxed force. Bryna exemplified these characteristics in the class and I immediately felt comfortable and eager to learn. I’m really looking forward to future classes and hope they are as great as the first one.

Foodie New Year!!

Belated Happy New Year my dear readers!
We took it easy at my parents place on New years eve. No crazy shenanigans, although I did get an amusing phone message from Johnny and company. Hubby and I got snazzy new stuff and enjoyed more food, which has now been crammed into our already crowded fridge. I shared the sparkling wine that Jen bought me with my mother-in-law and Hubby and I left shortly after dinner, happy to see my folks but looking forward to just sitting at home relaxin’.

I brought some homemade rum balls to my parents place. The recipe is from Pil books and here it is again (slightly paraphrased for cheap laughs):

(Extra Rummy) Classic Rum Balls

2 cups vanilla cookie crumbs/wafers             1/2 cup corn syrup

2 tbs cocoa powder                                        1 tbs honey

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup fine chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp vanilla

RUM!!!! (As much as you want)

Combine cookie crumbs, cocoa, 1 cup powdered sugar, salt and walnuts in a bowl, stir well. Add corn syrup, honey, rum(!!!), and vanilla. Mash them up and shape into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar.

Pil Books are also rapidly restoring my cookie making confidence. Cookies have always been very difficult for me for some reason, but the recipes in Pil are so simple, that they are virtually impossible to screw up! And speaking of cookbooks, My mother-in-law also got me a new vegetarian one for my birthday:

We pretty much have a library of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks in our kitchen but this one is my favorite so far. Earlier, I was complaining about the crazy ingredients and preparation time involved in Tal’s book, so she got me this new one by Alison Kent and The Canadian Living Test Kitchen. No more treks to “special/overpriced/pretentious” stores. All the ingredients are available at your local grocer and the meals require little time to prepare.

Yay for simplicity and less stress! I’m going to be busy with various activities this winter, but I do plan on making some extra time for indulging in filling, quality meals by trying out new recipes and visiting hip, new local restaurants. Ottawa may not have as many quality establishments as Vancouver or Toronto, but there are still some great ones out there and I plan to sample what they have to offer!

Happy New Year! To food and happiness!