Sunday, February 27, 2011

KP's Ration Race

In 44 days, I will be dunzo with school and I will be moving off the island and back to Ontario. After being in this house for 2 years, I discovered today that I have accumulated a lot of frozen and dried goods in my cupboards and freezer. Since I hate wasting food and it would be less than convenient to bring it all home with me, I have decided to challenge myself to consume it all by inventing a super awesome competition for myself.

KP's Ration Race
The Rules:
1. Spend no more than 20$ per week on groceries
2. No more than 2 meals per week can be eaten from food obtained outside the house (restaurant, friends houses, potlucks etc)
3. The cupboard, fridge and freezer must be completely, 100% empty by April 13th - the sooner the better

I'm planning on spending the 20 bucks on fresh fruit and veg only and not buy any canned, frozen or preserved foods.

I'm not expecting this to be too hard; in my pantry currently you will find:
Canned tuna, canned soup, canned beans
Dried fruit and nuts and seeds
Root vegetables (squash, carrots, sweet potato, onion, garlic)
Frozen fruit, frozen peas, frozen spinach
Lentils, Rice, Oatmeal, quinoa
Fish, Pork Chops, Ground Beef, Chicken Breasts
Peanut Butter
Several frozen servings of each: beef stew, lentil soup, chicken pot pie
2 dozen eggs
A wide variety of spices and dried herbs (these wont be used up by april)

Plus I have some fresh fruit and veg such as kale, celery, apples, tomatoes, brocoli etc to last me a week or more until my first March grocery shop.

There is nothing spectacular about this challenge except that I LOVE grocery shopping. The hardest part will be not allowing myself to step foot into the grocery store. The other challenge will be finding creative ways to use the ingredients I have. I can totally see myself making the same couple of convenient dishes all the time just because they are easy and fast. I'm hoping that in the very least, it will force me to push my boundaries a bit in the kitchen!

Stay tuned for updates!

Awesome Things

I have recently starting following the 1000 Awesome Things blog. Not hard core, but every couple of days I'll check out what new awesome things have been posted. In honor of this blog, below are some awesome things (from my perspective) that made me smile today.

#1: Laughing at other people's conversations
Sam and I were catching up over some Starbucks java and chatting away mindlessly about nothing and everything. Somehow we started ranting about school when I said that "the thought of doing school work right now makes me want to punch a baby". I know I know, it's quite possibly the most horrible expression of life but my roommate in second year used it a lot and it is apparently contagious and ever since I have been known to say it on especially deserving occasions. After saying it, I immediately realized that the people around me were possibly horrified and so I glanced around me quickly to make sure no one overheard. That's when I noticed the guy beside us glance over at us while laughing out loud. Once he noticed us notice him he tried really hard to not be laughing out loud and was focusing just a little too intently on his own laptop. He was trying so hard not to be laughing that his face was bright red and it looked as though he was holding his breath to prevent himself from laughing as evidenced by the fact that his face was turning purple.
This in turn made Sam and I crack up at the absurdity of our conversation. I have definitely been in that guy's shoes before. You can't help but overhear conversations sometimes, and the things you end up hearing can be ridiculous and hilarious and sometimes it catches you off guard and you can't help but laugh out loud.
For added awesomeness, you can catch the eye of another eavesdropper beside you also cracking up at the overheard conversation.
Perhaps I am being totally egotistical and his burst of laughter had nothing to do with us, but either way it made me smile and remember how awesome laughing at other people's conversations is.

#2: Turtles, Kittens and Most of All....Kittens Riding Turtles
There are about a million youtube videos of cats, and almost all of them are embarrassingly entertaining and not something you admit to watching. This one, which I noticed on facebook through a friend, isn't particularly funny but it made me excited for Earl to get bigger so I could get a kitten and replicate this. Either way it made me smile today which is why it gets to be re-posted here:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Varsity Blues

This past weekend I traveled to Halifax with the UPEI Swim Team for the AUS (Atlantic University Sport) Swim Championships. We somehow managed to snag the Panther Bus even though the Men's Hockey team and the Basketball teams were away this weekend as well. The Panther Bus is our school's tour bus that athletes travel in to away games. It is covered with images of UPEI athletes looking all intense, and has wireless internet. This is the first time that the swim team has been allowed to take the bus, it's normally reserved solely for Hockey or Basketball so it was super exciting to get to take it to Halifax for the weekend.
I didn't compete in the swim meet since I had to spend 4-6 weeks after Christmas "recovery" and moving my shoulder as little as possible. It's hard to be at the pool and watching every one race and not be able to race myself, but I was definitely kept busy cheering! And the team gave me so much to cheer about! Every time anyone swam a personal best time, there was a bell to ring and you got to enter a ballot to win Subway gift cards. Every single person on our team got to ring the bell at least once and everyone swam really well.

This meet was my very last as a varsity athlete. It's sad, but I think that my rocky career as a varsity athlete made it easier. I have been swimming for three years now. In 2nd year, I competed first semester, and then got the results of my genetic testing over Christmas and just swam for the club team second semester. 3rd year was the opposite; I swam club for first semester and then competed at AUS championships in second semester. And this year, I competed first semester and then got my defibrillator and had to sit on the sidelines second semester. I think if the circumstances had been different, and I had been able to compete consistently the entire three years I spent on the swim team, I would have been really upset and bummed that I wouldn't be swimming competitively ever again as a UPEI Panther. I think I'm going to miss my team more than the swimming, but I'm definitely going to find a master's swim at home this summer to swim with though.

I love swimming, and I'm really glad I got a chance to swim varsity, even if it was on and off. One of the many perks of going to a small school - not having to even try out to make the swim team!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kandahar Through Afghan Eyes 2010

Monday was full of meetings and luncheons and void of classes which suits me just fine. Tuck and I have been incredibly lucky to have had so many opportunities since returning from Kenya to mix and mingle with big wigs from Kenya and the UPEI and to be able to speak to such a diverse range of groups, from students and faculty, to church groups, to the members of the Souris Village Feast and later next month to the members of the Home Economics Society (to name a few). Monday we had a meet and greet with the Kenyan High Commissioner, the Vice-Chancellor's of the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. UPEI is in the process of building partnerships with these institutions since they have Masters, PhD and post doc programs in nursing and nutrition at their respective facilities. Partnering with them would give our students who travel over more street cred and would help us in the implementation of our programs, as well as being able to work with their students to keep our programs going all year round. Basically, it would be great for both UPEI and the Kenya schools. We got to speak with all the vice chancellors and meet once again with the High Commissioner. The nice thing about Kenya is that once you meet someone once, you are essentially family. They do not forget you and are more than hospitable if you are ever to go visit them, so it was great to make a few more connections over there for when I go back (fingers crossed) in May. We will definitely hook up with these people and maybe even get to sit in on a Nutrition class or two, which would be really neat! I'd love to see what they are learning compared to what we have learned, and what the teaching methods are like. All the classes are in english so we'd even be able to understand!

After the meet and greet, we attended a luncheon called "Food for Thought: Focus on Women in Afghanistan." It's diversity week on campus so there are luncheons being held all week. I am so glad I got a chance to go to this!! Thanks to Jen who hooked me up with a free ticket. There was a photography exhibit all around the room, with the most beautiful and incredible photographs, all of which were taken by students aged 15-18 years old, taken in Kandahar. Under each picture was a paragraph about life in Afghanistan and how the picture represented an aspect of it. There was a speaker from "Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan." I had read Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, about empowering women in Afghanistan and educating girls and women so I was somewhat familiar with the topic, but clearly there is a lot I didn't know and still is. The speaker was amazing; she spoke about the organization and what they were doing and the conditions for women in Afghanistan. I had goosebumps the whole time. It's so incredibly humbling to listen to people who are doing so much for people they don't know on the opposite side of the world, and absolutely incredible what they've been able to accomplish. I always get so emotional when I go to these types of presentations, and have to stop my self from breaking down and bawling in the middle of the presentation. It just blows my mind how this world works. I know I've said this before on this blog, but it makes me so sad that a person's right to education and health depends entirely on gender and where they were born.

After watching this presentation, hearing personal stories about the work being done there and learning about all this organization has done, I really felt empowered, and any doubt about choosing Kenya over a clinical internship placement in a big fancy hospital had vanished and I am now 100% confident I made the right choice.

It always seems like the problems in countries like Kenya of Afghanistan are so huge that you wonder how you could possibly make a difference in the grand scheme of things. But the great thing is that people do make a difference, every day. Maybe they aren't changing the world, but they are educating one person about one thing, and that person will educate one more person etc. I have added going to Afghanistan to work on a project like this to my bucket list. I may not know a lot about teaching, but I do know a lot about food. And that's all it takes; you don't need to know a lot about everything, you just need to take what you are passionate about and find a way to share that passion and inspire others to care about the topic. Food is universal, it's one of the only things that is used world wide to celebrate, to mourn, to survive. People need food, no matter where they live or how they live. I feel very lucky that I have studied something so applicable to any population, that I can use what I've learned to educate people in any country, and in any conditions on the planet. There are always ways to make traditional foods more nutritious without compromising the traditions associated with them, the flavours and the texture, and to do so in an economic way that is achievable for everyone.

So now I just need to find out what I need to do to get to Afghanistan and what I can do when I do.

I ended up buying two books they were selling as a fundraiser:

Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of Afghanistan's Women by Sally Armstrong
The Breadwinner Trilogy by Deborah Ellis

I'm looking forward to reading them when I finish the book I'm currently reading (Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi, which I'm really enjoying, and is mind blowing in it's own, completely different way)

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I stole this from some facebook friends but I thought it was funny and awesome so I figured I would post it here. Most of the 5 people who read this have mutual friends and therefor have seen this already, but for my fam jam and all you islanders, enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

From Field to Supermarket

Today's post is dedicated to food! I have stumbled upon two very different videos, but together they represent food from feild to grocery store shelves.

First, is Michael Smith's first episode of his new online series called Food Country. Profiling PEI at it's finest, he takes us into the fields of PEI farms and shows us how crops are grown. This particular episode is about carrots and broccoli with a pig roast thrown in there. I'm not sure if I'm the biggest fan of this series but it definitely made me want to eat some fresh farmers market veg that's in my fridge!

The second video is a preview of CNBC's Supermarket Inc - Secrets Revealed. If you youtube it, there are a whole bunch of clips from this series, including a look inside Wholefoods. It's mind blowing how much work goes into planning supermarkets specifically to make us buy more! I'd love to watch the whole series if I ever get the chance!

Video 1: Michael Smith's Food Country, webisode 1

Food Country: Episode 1: Brookfield Gardens from Food Country on Vimeo.

Video 2: Supermarket Inc - Secrets Revealed

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy February!

It's February! Exciting February events include: Groundhogs day, Chinese New year, AUS swim championships, Valentines Day (I plan on giving out awesome valentines to all my friends such as the one over there --->'s a picture of Darwin!), reading week and family day. It's also apparently heart health month, national bird-feeding month, and black history month. So much crammed into the shortest month of the year!

It's February and 2011 so far has been challenging, but we're only a month in so there's lots of time to turn that around.

This past week I had to choose between 2 things that are both important to me. The first was the clinical internship placement I desperately wanted and had to apply for at a really big, hospital near home. The career opportunities this placement would provide are advantageous to those I might get by doing my placement at a smaller hospital elsewhere and I'd be exposed to a lot of cool awesome disorders, conditions and diseases since the facility is so large. The second was going back to Kenya for 3 weeks in May to finish up my research project and help out the new students. Due to scheduling issues there was no possible way I could have done both, which was devastating and resulted in 3 days of panic, tears, mind changing and over thinking. I ultimately chose Kenya, but after much deliberation and although I am happy with my decision, I'm still sad that I will be missing out on the incredible opportunity to intern at that particular hospital. I know that I will want to work right away as soon as I finish internship, so I decided that I should take advantage of the chance to travel while I can, I also really wanted to finish what we had started in Kenya and now I will be able to wrap up all the loose ends of the project and complete the program planning process with evaluative reports and the chance to see what impact we made and what we could have done to make a bigger impact. Plus we get to be involved in new research! Right now Farmers Helping Farmers is working with the schools and women's groups to grow orange sweet potatoes! I got an email about it today and am a litte embarrassed about how excited I was about it.

I have been a horrible blogger this year so far (and since September) but I'm going to try to blog more often. The last week has flown by! I went skiing with Alex, Big Al and Big Al's little brother this past Sunday at Wentworth to practice for our big fam jam reading week ski trip extravaganza at Tremblant. It was awesome and quite hilarious. I am the biggest spaz of life, particularly on skis, and if I survive Tremblant without breaking anything it'll be a miracle! I also got to see my grandparents, which is always awesome and got the Mary Kay (what alex has dubbed my car) back. I didn't get any pictures of us on the slopes because I wasn't nearly coordinated enough to ski and take pictures at the same time, plus we went to the night ski since it was cheap and it was way to cold to take my mitten off long enough to get a picture.

On the way to pick up Big Al and his brother we stopped at Masstown Market. I've been wanting to go there for a while because I've heard a lot about it, and I once had a honey crisp apple from there at my sister's place, that was the size of my head and quite possibly the best apple I have ever, and likely will ever, taste. I have also tried their blueberry bread after my mom stopped there and brought me some on one of her visits to the island this year. It was everything I hoped for and more! I could have spent a million dollars there! I had just spent a lot of groceries in PEI so I opted for some apples, prunes, frozen wild blueberries and some blueberry scones to share with everyone as a post ski treat. They were well worth the wipe-outs, the freezing cold chairlift rides and legs so sore I couldn't walk the next day!

We still have not caught the stupid mouse, aka Malcolm. I took everything off my shelf in the cupboard since he was eating it all, and set up a trap in place of my flax but so far he has eluded all attempts to catch him. On the bright side he hasn't seemed to have gotten into any of the food on the other shelves yet, which is good. But I think I'm going to lay the smack down pretty soon. I feel bad about it but I gotta show him who's boss of this house before he invites all his little friends to join him for an all you can eat buffet in the cupboard.