Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Walking Dead Board Game

Nothing says “Christmas” like a bleak board game where everyone gets turned into a zombie!

Walking Dead board game

My brother in-common-law refuses to play this game with my sister because it’s bleak and nearly impossible to win, so Nancy made me and her friend Daniel play it this evening.

They look far too happy for people who are about to be eaten by zombies:

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Everyone is a character from the show. I was Rick Grimes:

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Nancy was Lori and Daniel was Dale.

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The object of the game is to get the cards from the four corners without getting turned into a zombie. But almost every square you land on is a zombie encounter and most of them are really hard to escape from without losing a life. I managed to get two of the four – the department store and the police station:

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But then I got killed at the CDC:Untitled

And so I was turned into a zombie:Untitled

At which point I then started playing *against* the other people in the game. Nancy also turned (I didn’t get her, but she lost all her lives in other zombie encounters), but Daniel managed to avoid us, win his zombie encounters while getting all the corner cards and got back to camp safe!

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Much like when I did the zombie obstacle course race, I realized that after getting turned into a zombie, life is a lot less stressful. Words to live by, people. Words to live by.

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Christmas Baking 2013

Christmas Baking 2013 was a success!

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The intrepid bakers: Beth, Madeline, Ann, Nancy, and Daniel.

We baked a grand total of 9 things:

  • Chinese almond cookies
  • Jan Hangel cookies
  • flaxseed crackers
  • gingerbread
  • marshmallow puff tartlets – which I renamed Hufflepuffs
  • mocha nut butterballs
  • shortbread
  • Turtle bars
  • white chocolate & macadamia nut cookies

Here’s Madeline, baking Turtle bars:

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Some chopped macadamia nuts:Untitled

Thomas and Grandma are baking cookies:

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Some dulce de leche truffles:

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These are from the new recipe I decided to try, except instead of putting jam inside with the marshmallow, I put dulce de leche:
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The recipe was called “Marshmallow Puff Tartlets”1, but I kept calling them Poofy Puffs, before finally deciding they should be called Hufflepuffs

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A bunch of baked goods (clockwise from top left: gingerbread, Chinese almond cookies, shortbread, Hufflepuffs):

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And now we are all very tired and filled with sugar. Like I said: success!

  1. Basically, they are Whippets, but homemade and, therefore, better []

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My Favourite Christmas Tradition

Ingredients for brandy snapsHands down, my favourite Christmas tradition is baking with my family. As far back as I can remember, we’d get together to bake Christmas goodies that we’d give out to family and friends and have around the house for when people came to visit. When I was young, my Aunt Wendy would come over to our house and bake with my mom, my sister and I. And it was always so much fun and the tasty treats were always much appreciated by whosoever was lucky enough to receive them.

Coddled Egg
When we got older, my sister and I carried on the Christmas baking tradition, and for a couple of years we made ornate ginger bread creations – one year it was a whole village of little gingerbread houses, another year it was a living room on Christmas Eve (with a fireplace, a chair, a table with cookies for Santa on it, and a cat asleep on a rug). I wish I knew where I put the photos of those gingerbread creations!

Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake - mixtures ready to go

Long time readers will know that in 2009 we held the first ever Snow Family Cyber Cookies, where my mom, sister, and niece baked in Toronto and I baked at my place in BC and we hung out via Google Video Chat so that we could bake “together”. Not as good as baking in person – you can’t sample the baking over the intertubes – but still pretty fun. In 2010 I was in Toronto, so I could bake with my family in person and in 2011 we did Cyber Cookies again. In 2012 we couldn’t get coordinated with dates – I spent a bunch of time at the holidays on the Island with my then-boyfriend’s family and we couldn’t coordinate a day when I was home to do CyberCookies. And this year I’m in Toronto and we are having baking day this coming Saturday!

Chocolate Chip CookieWe decided that we each only get to choose two things to bake, as there are five of us in total who will be bakers (my mom, my sister, me, my niece, and my sister’s friend Daniel1 ), so that will be 10 different baked goods. I have to make shortbread, from my Great Granny’s secret recipe, because everybody loves it2, but I still have to pick my second item. I’m thinking I should do something that calls for sweetened condensed milk, because omg, I love sweetened condensed milk. I should probably get out some recipe books and make a decision!

  1. My nephew will also be helping, but he’s only 2.5 years old, so he’s still to wee to be able to make stuff on his own. []
  2. Everybody except me. I don’t like shortbread! []

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Trip To The Aquarium

Toronto just got a new aquarium and my Aunt Lynn took us all there for my niece’s birthday1. I have to say – it was pretty cool. We got to pet a crab and a stingy ray and we saw all sorts of awesome fish – my favourite were, of course, the sharks. There were even places where you could go in a little dome so it felt like you were in the tank with the fish.

Here are some pics2!

  1. Earlier in the day, my mom asked my 2.5 year old nephew what kind of fish he thought we would see at the aquarium. His answer: sushi. []
  2. Props to Jeff, from whom I stole all the photos and videos []

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Cheapskates Unite!

So my brother-in-common-law is setting up a pretty cool little site that I thought would be worth sharing with y’all- it’s what he describes as “extreme couponing for the Internet”. Basically, he finds combinations of deals using different promo sites that you can add up to get really big savings. Right now, he has three deals listed on his site:

Those are some pretty good discounts. He’ll be adding more deals as he finds them, so if you are cheap like me, it will be worth checking back!

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O Christmas Tree!

Apparently I am all about Christmas trees right now, because not only did I decorate my tree at home and buy an awesome set of new ornaments, but tonight I got to help decorate the tree at my sister’s place! Like mine, my sister’s family’s tree is full of ornaments collected over the years – with a disproportionate number of snowmen.

Here’s a photo of me and my sister in front of the tree:

Beth & Nancy Christmas 2013

And here’s me and my niece:

Beth & Madeline Christmas 2013

My nephew had no interest in having his photo taken1, so there’s no photo of me with him. I can assure you that he’s pretty darn cute though!

  1. My niece did the same at that age. []

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Holidays Begin

Written earlier today, on a plane where they don’t have the Internets.

On a plane, heading to see the fam in Toronto for the Christmas holidays. I’m strangely antsy – we’ve only been flying for an hour so far, but I’ve alternated between deciding I should nap, then that I should read and then flipping endlessly through my kobo trying to decide *what* to read1, finally settling on a book I’ve been meaning for read since forever: Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. But then halfway through the first chapter, despite it being very interesting and well written, I decided that I should be writing. The woman next to me is marking exams2, which is making me both slightly anxious – because it reminds me that somewhere out there, there’s a prof who either is, has, or soon will be marking the exam I wrote last weekend3 – and happy that I’m not marking exams right now4. I think my antsiness is, at least in part, due to my discomfort with having the freedom to actually *decide* what to do, as opposed to immediately moving on to the next assignment once the last one was completed. It’s been two years since I’ve had to make such decisions – I’m not sure I remember how!

Granted, I still have my industry project to complete – it’s a super cool project that I’m doing for work, but with the added bonus that I get to write it up as a paper and it counts for 1.5 credits, but also I have a supervisor from school who is advising me, so it’s kind of like having a high price consultant for free5. So I suppose I could be doing that right now, but I feel like I’m at a stage where I need to lay a bunch of different papers out over a big surface so I can sketch out my strategy, which isn’t very conducive to the tiny fold out table tray on this plane… plus all the papers I need are in my checked baggage. I figure I can work on that in this upcoming week as everyone will be working – and my niece and nephew will be in school and daycare, respectively – during the day.

I also have a bunch of other exciting plans for my trip to Toronto, including, in no particular order:

  • dinner with Jen & Jody at some trendy new restaurant that Jen knows6
  • the Ontario Science Centre with Sarah and her crew – and I get to meet the newest member of the MacDonald-McLean gang!
  • annual Christmas baking – non-cyber edition
  • an evening of nerding out with Dan and Rick7
  • making homemade eggnog
  • various family events
  • a creative project with my sister
  • a trip to the Aquarium – which was a gift for my niece’s birthday from my Aunt Lynn

And probably a bunch of other stuff that I’ve forgotten. Now that I look at that list, this might be the nerdiest Christmas I’ve had in a long time!

Ok, now that I’ve started thinking about my industry project paper, I’m starting to get all angsty that I should be working on it. And, really, there are some of the background pieces that I could work on writing up right now that don’t requiring spreading all of the paper in the world over a great big table. I should probably work on that now. Will post this once I get back to the land of the Internets!

  1. I’m currently already reading two books – Ender’s Game, which I’m reading as an audiobook while I do my treadmill running for the running study I’m in, so I want to save that to listen to while I’m running, and Born to Run, but I’m about 9/10ths of the way through that, but it’s a paper book and I didn’t want to have to carry that with me on the plane as I’m carrying all the electronics ever so my carry on bag is already way too heavy for my own good. []
  2. Incidentally, marking is one of my least favourite things to do… next to taking exams! []
  3. Despite the fact that I told myself when I started the MBA that I don’t care about my marks and I’m really just interested in what I’m learning… I kind of care about my marks. I can’t help it! Since the start of the program, I’ve gotten good marks and the more I got, the more felt like I was on a roll and didn’t want to break my streak! I managed to be above the class average in every course with the exception of two courses where I got exactly the class average, but both of those had quite high class averages, so I was OK with that. And now I just have one mark left to receive for the rest of my life – the one for the course that I wrote the exam in last Saturday. And even though grades mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things… I’m totally freaking out about it. Fingers crossed! []
  4. I am going to be teaching my stats course starting in January, so there is marking in my near future. But Future Beth can deal with that – December Beth is happily not carrying a giant pile of exams with her giant pile of techno-gadgets in her carry on. []
  5. Free, unless you count my massive tuition fee. []
  6. Last time I was in T.O., we did the after work (for them) dinner & drinks thing, and I was totally undressed as the Toronto business crowd is all suits and whatnot, and I was in casual attire that would fit in back in Vancouver. So this time I made sure to pack a dress and fancy boots. []
  7. Lest you doubt the level of nerdery of this event, the title of the Google Calendar invite is “The Researchiest Researchers Who Ever Did Research”. []

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Happy 9th Birthday Madeline!

Beth & Madeline at Powell's Books

Happy birthday to the best niece an aunt could ever ask for! Love you, kiddo!

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Happy Birthday Mom!

Day 32

Happy birthday to the best mother around! I hope your day is filled with much joy and many Irish coffees! I love you!

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En Reconnaissance

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Medal in recognition of my dad’s donation.

This past week, my mom, my niece, my grandpa, and my aunt attended a “Celebration of Life” ceremony held by the Trillium Gift of Life Network 1 in honour of those who have been organ and tissue donors. As you know, when my Dad passed away last year, his eyes were donated and two people received sight-restoring surgeries because of his donation 2. The Celebration of Life ceremony was a way to thank the donor families and to share the effect that their donations have on the lives of the recipients3. There was a speech by a woman who received a heart transplant and another by the mother of a three year old girl who received a liver transplant when she was just a baby. Both of these people are alive today because caring people decided to donate their organs and made sure that their families knew that they wanted to donate.

When my dad died and we received the phone call from the Trillium Gift of Life Network asking if we would be willing to donate his eyes, we knew immediately what to do. My dad had told us long ago that if he were ever in the situation where he could be an organ donor, he would want to be one. We even had his driver’s license card where he’d signed the organ donor card4. And we were so grateful that in that horrible moment, we didn’t have to wonder what Dad would have wanted to do or try to make the decision on our own. The decision was made by my dad and we were merely carrying out his wishes on his behalf, since he couldn’t do it himself. It gave us solace to be able to do for him what he let us know he wanted done and to this day it comforts me to know that his corneas are out there, somewhere, helping someone see the beautiful world around them. Maybe they are seeing their kids or grandkids, or their partner or parents or friends, or maybe they are watching the sunset or rise, or maybe they are watching the Leafs play the Habs. Whatever they are watching, they are making someone’s life significantly better and I’m sure that they are thankful for that donation every single day.

So what I want to say to you all is this: think about whether you’d want to be an organ donor and make that wish known. I know that not everyone is comfortable with the idea and if that’s the case for you, let your loved ones know so that they don’t have to guess, should you ever be in that situation. And if you are willing to be a donor, please register with your provincial transplant organization (see below) and let your loved ones know your wishes. Then, should the situation arise where you could be an organ or tissue donor, your family doesn’t have to wonder what you would have wanted to happen and your tissues and/or organs can go on to help improve or save a life.

Two provinces have online registration systems for you to register your wish to be an organ donor:

For information on registering as a potential donor in other provinces, check out: Life: Pass It On.

  1. The Trillium Gift of Life Network is the agency that coordinates organ and tissues donations in Ontario. []
  2. Because my dad had cancer, none of his other organs could be donated, but we were thankful that his eyes could be used to help people in need. []
  3. You don’t actually get to know who the specific recipient of your loved one’s organs or tissues were, but you get to hear from recipients about how they are alive today and able to function thanks to the donation they received. []
  4. Which is how they used to track who wanted to be an organ donor in Ontario. Now there is an online system where you sign up. []