Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fish out of water post #1

Salut Qu├ębec!

So I arrived in the province of Quebec this afternoon.. My goodness, how exciting.

I've been thinking that it would probably be a good idea to write about about my adventures, as it's pretty easy to forget about the things that you've done otherwise. Also, Ms. J would be sad with me if I completely gave up story telling. Alors, bonjour! 

I'm living in Quebec for a little over a month. I'm a music student, but I also like learning about languages and cultures. My government offers a program for anglophones to practice their French over the summer and earn university credits. It's a pretty sweet deal and this is the second time I've done it. 

I got here on a particularly dreary and rainy day. On the train I sat next to a nice Egyptian man who gave me some sort of coconut flavoured madeleine cookie and helped me to get my suitcase unstuck. It was funny how quickly memories of my last trip flooded back to me when I got here. In a taxi I heard a bit of Murry Schafer's Apocalypsis being broadcast from Toronto on the CBC, but I think the driver thought it was a bit too far out, so he switched the station back to Quebecois pop music about beating hearts and love. 

I made it to my residence, and was greeted by people who seemed relieved when I could understand what they were saying. Later, I adventured out in the rain to buy groceries, and was pleasantly surprised when I also could understand what the cashier's rapid French about points cards and plastic bags. 

Most of the students seem to be arriving this evening, and I haven't had the chance to meet many people yet. I'm looking forward to an event on my schedule tomorrow that just says 'pizzalympiques' with no further description of what it is. Hopefully I will get to meet my classmates. Also eat pizza. 

Anyway, hopefully there will be funny stories of my incompetence to follow, but for now bonne nuit!


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Well this is awkward

 Remember when people used Yahoo messenger? When was that, 2006? What a time it was to be alive. I remember you used to be able to send these little talking animations to your friends in the chat. I particularly liked one of a muscular, suit-wearing man who would jump up and say, "Don't worry - I'm here." I would send it ironically when I arrived after a prolonged absence.

I'm currently wishing that there was some sort of equivalent for modern blogging platforms.

Hi. This is awkward. I'm E. I took an almost year long hiatus on this blog. Sorry!

"But E," you must surely be wondering, "why did you abandon your blog for an extended period of time? Also, why are you talking to yourself in third person"

Well, dear imaginary readers, I recently finished my first year of university. University is wonderful. However, I also found that university takes up a heck of a lot of time. On good days, I had time for an afternoon nap (on a related note, I now love naps. naps are so great). On bad days, it was just a struggle to finish all my assignments and practising so that I could get to sleep at some point. However, it is now summertime, and I can blog once more! Hurray!

"So E, what have you been up to since last summer besides taking naps/wishing you were taking a nap?"

Oh boy! So much! I'm studying music education. I get to play flute lots, which is pretty great. I also learned how to play a bazillion percussion instruments, and the violin. Actually, I don't play the violin so much as make interesting noises on the violin, some more ear piercing than others. But it is an improvement from knowing nothing about stringed instruments!

I've made lots of lovely friends. I learned about music history! I learned about world music! I now know how to articulately justify my fondness of disco music. I had a TA explain to us how Beyonce's 'Love on Top' is actually brilliantly written. I learned how to identify chords by ear (useful for impressing little sisters by playing pop songs on the piano). I played a bass flute! I travelled to Chicago and played at Symphony Centre! I saw a crap ton of great concerts! It's been such a good year.

 (omg so many modulations)

"So E, why have you come back, other than having too much time on your hands?"

I do have too much time on my hands, this is true. I missed writing, for one thing. Another thing, I'm doing a French immersion program next month and thought it would be fun to document my adventures.

Anyway, that's it. How do people end these things? God, I'm really out of practice.

Too de loo?


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happee Birthdae Harry + garden update #3

Pretty much anyone acquainted with me knows that I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I was a late bloomer with the books, reading them all in the span of a week in grade six, but I made up for my lateness with my enthusiasm. I held viewing parties of the movies with friends, making cauldron cakes and pumpkin pasties. I went to the exhibition twice when it came to Toronto. I've watched all three of the Potter musicals no less than five times and have all the music on my ipod. I've knit hats that look like the ones Hermione wears in the movies. One time I greeted my new flute section in a Canada wide wind ensemble by saying, "Hey! I'm E! What's your Hogwarts house?". When I really want to veg out and relax, I giggle at bad HPotts fanfiction on the internet.

Yes friends, I am a nerd.

However, I do not regret nor try to deny this fact. I think there are plenty of wonderful reasons why everyone should be a Harry Potter fanatic. The books are wonderfully written, and teach us important lessons about friendship, love, and courage. They foster community, and have encouraged a generation of kids to get their noses in a book.

So, I try every year to celebrate Harry's birthday in a quiet thanks to JK Rowling and her brilliance. This year I made a chocolate fudge pudding that I think that Molly Weasley would be proud of.

I got the recipe from a cookbook my Gramma gave to me a few years ago from one of her trips to Scotland:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Potato Salad Math

The other day I discovered the funniest thing I've seen on the internet in a very long time. This guy Zack 'Danger' Brown on kickstarter has raised $61,186 (as of 8:00 PM on 21/07/14) to make potato salad (Link). I have no clue what he's going to do with all the money - hopefully some will go to charity as he proposed in an interview. However, it got me thinking. How much potato salad could you make with that amount of money? Naturally I had to put my grade 11 university math skills to the test.

First, I found a good potato salad recipe. I picked this one, since it calls itself the world's best, and has a ton of good reviews backing up that claim. Then I did some research and tried to figure out the price of making said recipe. Here's how it seemed to break down:

6 potatoes - $2
1 small onion - $0.17
1 cup of celery - $0.33
1 tsp salt - $0.0026
8 eggs - $1.33
1/2 cup sugar - $0.23
1 tsp cornstartch - $0.02
1/2 cup vinegar - $0.07
1 can evaporated milk - $1
1/4 cup butter - $0.3
1 cup mayonnaise - $1.50
1 tsp mustard - $0.2 (if you use the really good stuff)

That totals up to about $7.15. One recipe of this stuff serves 6 people, assuming each person eats about one potato's worth.

$61,186/$7.15= 8557.5 recipes of potato salad.
8557.5 x 6 servings =  51,344.9 servings.

So in theory this guy has enough money to feed 51,345 people. That's 20,000 more people than the entire population of Nunavut. You could feed every resident of Monaco. Madness.

So yeah this is how I'm spending my time lately. Summer is great.

Hope you're all being as productive as I am,


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two things

Hello! I am about to go on vacation so I will be disappearing for a while. Before I go, I will leave you with some things.

Thing #1 - My garden 

Mission vegetable garden is going s'well so far. Here is an update:

Basil plant has doubled in size! Huzzah. I removed aphids with the help of a bottle of soap and water. 

Tomato plants are getting tall!

Red lettuce is beautiful. Head lettuce looks confused. 

Cucumber flowers!


Swiss chard is also lookin' fine damn

probably not edible

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where the ladies at?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my future in a field that is pretty male dominated. Historically, music has been a man's business in almost every aspect. In the past century or so women have made large advances in this respect, but in a lot of music related careers we are still vastly outnumbered.

Thanks to blind auditions, female participation in orchestras has greatly risen over the last few decades. However, there is still a large gap between the number of males and females on the podium (according to this article, American orchestral conductors are 80% male).

In composition as well it seems that we are outnumbered. I recently discovered that I've never played a piece in band written by a woman. After a search on the wind repertory project, I found a total of 29 female composers of band music, versus 706 men. Perhaps this is because historically there haven't been a lot of women trained in composition, and that wind ensembles were very male exclusive for most of their history.

What I think we should do is celebrate the few women who do advance in these male dominated fields, and hopefully they will inspire the next generation of girls to pick up a baton, or try out their school's copy of Sibelius. So today I'm going to list a couple of the cool female composers of band music that I've recently discovered.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Well, I am now the proud owner of a high school diploma. Let the summer of baking/flute playing/weird craft projects begin!

Cake, feat. my cat coming down the stairs

It is blueberry season here in Ontario! Today some family came over to visit, and I was in charge of dessert. 

It's this recipe for a one layer vanilla cake. Usually what I would do is just whip up a bunch of heavy cream and dollop it on, but sadly we didn't have any. Instead, I made a simple syrup of lemon juice and sugar, then added to that 3/8 cups of icing sugar. This made a nice glaze to go in the middle. Then I made a cream cheese icing (1/8 cup butter, 1/8 cup cream cheese, about 3/4 cups of icing sugar, 1/8 tsp. ground vanilla beans, milk as needed) to spread on top. After that I just dumped on a bunch of fresh blueberries. It was pretty darn good. 

I've also been doing a lot of gardening lately. I took charge of the vegetable boxes this year, and it is extremely fun. I'm growing a whole bunch of things, including two varieties of tomatoes, red and green lettuce, onions, herbs, cucumbers, swiss chard, rhubarb, and watermelons (we'll see how those turn out). 

I found the first flower on my tomato plants this afternoon! 

Rhubarb slowly taking over the planet

I'm also very proud of my small basil pot. It's my favourite herb, but one that I've had very little success in growing over the last few years. I caught some earwigs trying to munch on it yesterday, but I seem to have gotten rid of them with a solution of dish soap and water. Fingers crossed!

So far summer 2014 is very successful. I think it was worth the wait. And I'm only on week one!