Month: January 2016

There is such a thing as too much curry paste

“.. and the helpers usually take care of the dinners*.” Wait, what? Like, every day?
Yes, every day.
And no matter how often I’m assured that he’s not picky, it doesn’t feel right to make him experience my idea of dinners (veggies, bread, salad, pancakes, omelet?) for a month. So I did some research and asked for help. Easy recipes, preferably one pan ones (the less you have to watch, the less you can screw up). Come on, even without active teaching from my chef du cuisine father, I must have had picked up on some talents and tricks in the kitchen.
Luckily, the kitchen comes with about every tool, spice, herb and product you can think of. And a load I never thought of (“Is that Chinese? Russian? I think it’s ..tea?”). And the owner of the kitchen isn’t set on his usual groceries either, so I can ask for all kinds of things.
All that still doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous for my first night of cooking. I can only remember that it involved a rice cooker, a sauce that turned into a paste and cabbage. We ate a lot of cabbage here.

Like with about anything, practice makes comfortable. While slowly moving from “as little fuck up chance as possible” to “maybe try something new” I started paging through recipe books. Paging through them with the intent of using them. Last night I even set out all the necessary ingredients before starting on my onion & squash soup. Boy, was the extra time spent (cleaning squash takes some work) worth it.

That doesn’t (of course not) mean I’m a star every night. My curry sauce was a too hot mistake that resembled cat vomit. My stir fry was partly black because the pan got hot much faster than expected. And Damita’s first experience with Brussels Sprouts was probably very, very, chewy.

But then there’s the filled pastry (that looked beautiful), the enormous pan of overnight stew, the kale stir fry, the filled bell peppers, Jeroen’s omelet and the Dutch pancakes. I made savoury bread pudding, and customized the one from my mother’s recipe. Yes, not having to get into the kitchen at the end of the afternoon has turned into a bit of luxury, but going isn’t a punishment any more either.


*After two weeks Damita admitted that he was used to having/getting lunches as well. It’s a joint venture now.


Scams and finding apartments

“This is another one of those of too-good-to-be-real” I wrote to my boyfriend
“This one sounds like someone’s trying to sell you something they don’t own” boyfriend wrote in return.

Mister with the long, detailed story sounded a bit too much like Nigerian royalty, but the biggest clue was the pictures used. They were from an AirBnB apartment in Montreal. At least I expected it to be too good to be true? But still, I hadn’t considered one moment that there could be people out there trying to scam me out of my money. It’s looking for an apartment, how hard can that be?

Now I’m a little nervous about future endeavours, but I also know that the world isn’t out to get me. Heck, after replying to at least fifteen places.. one in fifteen a scam isn’t even a bad score, is it?

Looking for an apartment

Two weeks being gone, and February sixth looming already (who knows how fast week three and four will go), it’s time for me to get nervous about finding a place of my own. Not that I need it in February, in February I will stay in an AirBnB in Ottawa, from which I’m going to look at a few apartments, and hopefully find a job by visiting all kinds of job agencies and stores to make paying rent hurt less.

Still, that leaves me less than two months (or more than one and a half month, I can almost hear my boyfriend say). Talking about the boyfriend: because of him I can’t just go renting a room. Landlords -understandingly- weren’t very open to the idea of having another tenant for two weeks every other month, and to just have to have him come over to put him in a hotel ..nah. An apartment for one it is. I’m going to be someone that rents an apartment, for the first time in my life. Okay, doable. Or not, but we won’t know that before I’m doing it, starting the first week of March (hopefully).

I’m looking for a furnished place, because who knows how long I’ll stay and I don’t want to invest before being sure. Nor working hard to sell things while trying to leave (as soon as possible). So furnished, that’s quite doable. Next, the all inclusive. For some that’s heat, water, electricity, internet. For some, that’s internet and electricity. Still, not that hard to find, and taking care of getting an internet plan, after having survived the phone plan quest, must be doable.

But then: prizes. They are all over the place, and not necessarily correlating with location. At least I have local sources that can tell me yes or no, to expect X for location Y and not the other way around. But still – I would really like a job if I’m going to pay $995 for an apartment, please (it’s a pretty perfect one though, I hope it’s still there when I get to Ottawa).

Because no landlord/company is going to hold an unit for me, of course. It’s a little gambling game I’m definitely not fond of, but have to deal with right now. I have about three-four places I can go have a look at, and I’m sure that in another month I can find more. This is all so very new to me, from the idea of my own place to having to take care of everything involved.

So the news is that there’s no news yet. But I’m working on it.

But why’s the internet gone?*

“We have wifi, but if you want to sit behind your computer all day, this may not be the place for you.” One of the lines I remember most from the volunteering ad I replied to. Good, yes, good, because I was going to do writing and watch movies and TV series and oh, oh yeah, volunteer around the farm.

It turns out that full time streaming isn’t possible, but plain checking in won’t hurt you or the network. You just don’t really have the time for it. Or don’t quite feel like it, because you’re tired or have a nice book and no proper desk to comfortably sit at for six hours in a row.

So the chats turn into texts, the endless surfing turns into cherry picking and yeah, the computer is used for writing again. Am I missing out? I don’t think so. Does it take some time to get used to the idea that I don’t feel like going online/using my computer? Definitely.




*freely paraphrased from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series. Maybe the first movie?

Volunteering at the Pippi Longstockings’ House

On my first Monday  in Carp, which is close to Kanata, which is considered close to Ottawa, I visited a ‘share night’ about Reiki, some kind of extra special yoga, and lightbodies. No, I forgot a capital there: Lightbodies. Yes, I still don’t know either.

I shovel snow, more than I’ve ever seen outside of artificially created Snowworld, and I carry wood for the wood stove from the outside shelter to the inside shelter. There’s a cat, Mau, and two horses, one that will eat your clothes if you’ll allow him to.

The man I try to help out has made this house from scratch, barely buying anything, just cleaning out other houses, exchanging things for apples (he has a yard) or other things. I think the word you can use for it is eclectic, but in an ordered way. The bathroom could even feature on a fancy blog about interior design (does the GOOP website still blog?).

“I know you, you’re the little curly haired Hobbit girl from the Lord of the Rings.” They discovered I’m from New Zealand.

Snow shoveling is exhausting and gets old quite fast, I still have to find a meditative way to deal with it. But, to see the path you made, the stuff you moved, is oddly satisfying. While being boring. Jury’s still out on snow shoveling.

I need to get used to finding a purpose, to living with a stranger, to be insecure about the most random things (Am I allowed to launch myself off the sled, laughing loudly?). But besides the insecurities there’s already the satisfaction of having a clue (checking the chicken coop without being asked to, coming up with small handy things), of knowing that there’s such a different way of living and that I can still handle it.

But it has been less than a week. Who knows what the month will still bring. I definitely know this might be my most exciting and weird January ever, already.

Another trip

Kids, don’t confuse AM with PM and end up with having to leave a day earlier than your boyfriend. And having to fly at night, like 00.30 in the morning.

Being the smooth traveller that I am, I worried about the public transport to the airport (subway plus bus), checking in luggage (you have to pay for that on this domestic flight), surviving the flight (it was 40 minutes, I watched two episodes of Black-ish. Ground personnel being unable to attach the tunnel to the plane in Ottawa almost take longer), calling for and surviving an Uber trip (did that, managed it), and checking in at a hotel with the charming auto suggestion at Google of “has bed bugs” at two in  the morning.

I worry about barely anything, really. After a nice breakfast (no eggs, cereals, BREAD) I’m preparing for the next part, another Uber cab into Kanata. There I’ll meet my host,  and another adventure will start. I’m going to be a farm girl. Where’s my plaid flannel?


Thirty-five dollars. That’s what it costs you to take an elevator in a very, very high building and to confront your fear of heights with a glass floor and screaming children smacking the windows.
We didn’t enter the CN Tower.

“Stay as far away from Eaton Mall as possible”, the bank account lady told us after we had brunch just outside of it. After three more breakfasts, further away from the mall, we definitely understood the comment about the prizes being better.

A café so vegan that the both of us couldn’t find anything appealing on the menu. You can find it in Kensington Market, like the London Camden Market but smaller and much less aggressive touristy. We went for an ordinary (cheese) sandwich and decided to return another time for Wanda’s Pie In The Sky.

For the tourist feeling that won’t cost you $35 per person, you can consider the Royal Ontarian Museum (ROM – two tickets for $34,  enough to see to fill your day with) or Casa Loma, a not so old (1913) castle that gave us -even though visited on December 29- a lot of Christmas feelings. And okay, the castle is nice to look around as well. Another day filler for $29 per person.

Of course, walking around town is entertaining enough as it is. I had already been told about the dress code of Canadians (Anything warm, anything comfy) but have been surprised with people walking in shorts and/or flipflops with 2 – 5 degrees Celsius. It makes me feel bad about being bundled up, and a bit worried about what’s yet to come.

It’s been a long two weeks, and even though Toronto is a huge city, after a while you start moving in overlapping circles instead of taking the subway up, down, everywhere. We saw a tiny zoo in a park and a redtailed falcon outside of it, so many black squirrels that they’re barely exciting any more, and enough food places of any origin and in any fusion to never go hungry again. You can shop here as well, big franchise or tiny, original hole in the wall, but I’m too impatient to try on a dozen pieces of clothes only to realize that even the prize isn’t worth the hassle.

We’ve had Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve here, and so I finally experienced a city that didn’t completely shuts down during a holiday. Rabba’s Fine Foods, thank you for your 24/7-ness.

But it’s almost time to move now, Ottawa is the for now/potential last stop. There is a pleasant rhythm to you, Toronto, but The Red Bench’ cookies really make a visit worthwhile (oh lord, I’ve 100% turned into my father).