Friday, 27 March 2015

What Did I Do?: Overalls and Authentic German Cooking

This week started off a little low-key, then got a little more interesting. I started mostly with my cheater approaches: online articles and the dictionary. I hope I can move away from this more again, and actually do some stuff worth talking about. Something I have been challenging myself with is limiting distractions in my life. One of my approaches the past week has been to leave the music off. Music is great, but I find that when I'm always listening to music, or looking for this or that song on Youtube, I get hardly anything done. And I need to stop surrounding myself with noise all the time.

March 19: Since I had put making Jaegerschnitzel on my list awhile back, and planning to try it soon, I explored many recipes, and also learned about how to make Spaetzle, and found out what a potato ricer was. I also learned that thumbing the touch screen on your smart phone changes the way your brain responds to touch. There's an intriguing article about that here. It's crazy how technology affects us.

March 20: Scientists in Australia have figured out a way to use ultrasound technology to restore memory loss in mice. It could be used in a few years to treat Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's develops as a result of lesions--neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques--building up on the brain.

March 21: I learned about the various benefits of coconut oil, and thanks to Anne of Green Gables, I now know the meaning of the words vim, implicit, impeach, and veracity. And you're probably thinking, is she ever going to finish that book? All in good time. :)

March 22: Sunday one of my coworkers saved me a ton of efforts by informing me that James Watts invented the steam engine. Except I thought I had heard John Watts. Good thing I verified the information when I got home. Steam engines were first used in commercial enterprises in 1776.

March 23: Monday was a very interesting day for me. It consisted of various activities, lots of driving, and lots of waiting. I started my morning at the pool. I didn't really learn anything new this week, but just kept practicing things I've been working on. However, I did venture deeper into the pool. Although not ready for the deep end yet, my instructor had me go in up to my shoulders. Although I have waded into water this deep before not knowing how to swim, there was something scary about actually swimming in it, taking my feet off the bottom. And in my mind I was singing, and the the words seemed to take on a whole new level of meaning.

"You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand." --"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong United

From there I headed to The Pita Shack for some lunch. Although initially disappointed that they didn't warm or toast the pita, it was actually excellent. Hours later, I found myself near the downtown core of a city, that as it turns out can be a little uncomfortable to be in. I parked in the parking lot of a convenience store, where I got myself my mid-afternoon coffee and a pack of Cadbury Mini Eggs. This way I could justify parking as a customer while on the premises, instead of putting change in a parking meter. As I waited and enjoyed my afternoon snack, I observed my surroundings and the various people. I looked in the rearview mirror to see a guy vomit in front of Pizza Pizza. My eyes followed an animated young woman with a shopping cart, full of various items and bags. The real curiosity though was a bundle of wrapping paper rolls attached to the cart, which she showed off to many passing by. She later got some assistance from a man to make some modifications to this bundle, and soon he was busy with a roll of electrical tape, utility knife and other items I was unable to recognize. I never could figure out exactly what they were trying to do. And then there was the man parked a few spaces away from me in a black SUV, wearing big black shades, with his window rolled down, having a smoke. And he was watching something. Or for something. Or someone. At times I got a little unnerved, thinking he was watching me. Well, of course, I was watching him too...with locked doors. And then I saw the moment something switched, he took off and sped across the intersection, dodged a cyclist as if he had somewhere real important to go really fast, only to pull into the laneway right across the intersection, and later across the street. I never did figure that one out either, but "drug deal" certainly did cross my mind more than once. It was way too much like a movie! And as I watched these people with seemingly broken lives, I couldn't help but admire those who have the courage to walk into them, build relationships, and show them hope.

Then I went to the mall and shopped for a couple hours, which was all I could handle after my already eventful and slightly draining day. I walked into Urban Planet, not expecting to find much I would be seriously interested in. I saw some denim overalls, which seem to be fashionable again. I never would have thunk. I entertained the thought for a moment, then walked away. But my mind kept going back to those overalls. And I thought, Why not? Might as well take time to have a little fun. I grabbed a pair from the rack and headed for the dressing room. The straps were difficult to adjust and they fit rather awkwardly. I was wearing one of my many MDS T-shirts, my favourite everyday go-to item in my closet. And I thought, if I ever go back to a project to work on the job site, I might just have to get a pair of these for kicks.

And I went home later and looked up the word "epoch", but wasn't about to find out what all the unfamiliar words meant that I came across while reading Anne of Green Gables during my afternoon out.

March 24: Sometimes I just need to pretend I'm a pro chef. On Tuesday I attempted an authentic German meal, with help from my mom. I made Jaegerschnitzel, or German Hunter Schnitzel, and Spaetzle, which is a boiled dumpling. I considered finding a noodle to cook instead of Spaetzle, but after finding out how it's made, I had a real hankering to try it. Also, having had Spaetzle in Germany, I really wanted to try this.

I used a recipe I found online for the schnitzel, which was a bit of a task. Most recipes either called for packaged gravy mix or the sauce was mostly cream based. I wanted to make my own sauce if I was going to do this. So I used pork loin chops, and we discovered the secret to an awesome breading on schnitzel that fries really nice. I made the gravy out of beef broth, wine, flour and cream, which then had fried onions and mushrooms added to it. This was poured over the schnitzel and then sprinkled with fried bacon. The Spaetzle was an interesting endeavor. I didn't have a Spaetzle maker or a proper potato ricer, so I tried using a colander. Spaetzle is made from a simple dough made of milk, eggs, and flour. The dough is then ideally pressed through a Spaetzle maker, directly into a pot of boiling water. Once it's cooked, you toss them with melted butter, although I used bacon fat I had left over. To serve, I also spooned jaeger sauce onto it.

On a whole, it was good, and pork schnitzel like this has me spoiled. However, I have learned that I way overcalculate mushrooms when I buy them, and could have done with a fraction of what I bought. The gravy didn't thicken well, which was disappointing. I think if I make this again, I will try a different gravy recipe, or eliminate the wine and thicken it a little more. I'm a little undecided as to how much I liked the wine flavour in it. And it made a whole lot more gravy than necessary. Also, I discovered making Spaetzle using a colander does not really work, and dropping the dough into a pot with a spoon isn't great either.

But in the end, it was a good experience and I tried something new and unique.

March 25: I made dessert! Shocking, eh? I usually keep a good supply of frozen fruit in the freezer, especially berries, to use in yogurt and smoothies. I never would have thought that I would go crazy over sales at the grocery store, but with frozen fruit I often will. I saw a recipe on the back of one of the bags for a Berry Buckle and I thought it sounded yummy. Especially when I read you were supposed to serve it with ice cream. So this morning, being at a loss and tired of the cheater solutions, I ventured into the kitchen, even though we didn't need more dessert things.

This cake does take a good hour to bake, and I was hesitant even taking it out because, although the recipe said it would be moist and instructed not to overbake it, I was afraid the centre would be dough and berry juice. However, I let it rest awhile, served myself a nice warm slice with frozen yogurt, and poured a cup of Earl Grey, and it was delicious. Definitely did not disappoint!

In the afternoon, I tried some new exercises as part of my workout. One was an inchworm exercise. I didn't get very far before I fell on the ground laughing until I almost had tears. Gotta have fun!

Random note: I saw my first robin this year on the first day of spring. It's coming!!! :)

Friday, 20 March 2015

What Did I Do?: Shawarma and What I Have Wondered About the Irish

It's been a quiet week, and I've been able to keep up my resolution, weakly. Fighting a cold for three weeks means I don't have energy to get ambitious. So I've been trying to learn things more through what comes up or finding online articles.

March 12: While reading in the books of Acts, something caught my attention. I was reading about Paul being shipwrecked on the island of Malta, and the writer mentions Publius, referring to him as "the chief man" on the island who owned a lot of the land. Publius offered his hospitality for a few days. His father was sick with dysentery, and Paul healed him and Publius was converted. That made me ask who Publius was. Luke had basically said that this guy was the "head honcho" around there and that he owned a lot of the land. So who exactly was he? My research led me to learn that he was the governor, and was later honoured as the first Bishop of Malta. He's also considered a patron saint. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church observe a feast in his honour. I was a little conflicted by some of this, not sure what to make of it.

I have determined that if I looked up all the unfamiliar words I read in Anne of Green Gables, I would probably greatly expand my vocabulary. I learned that a manse was the "the house, owned by a congregation, of an esp. Presbyterian or United Church minister".

March 13: I learned about the Cross Bones Cemetery in England. Beginning in the 1100s, it was an unconsecrated burial ground for prostitutes, and also became the final resting place of countless others, not deemed worthy of a burial anywhere else, the poor, and the destitute. It has since become a memorial. This is a painful reminder of how society makes distinctions between people and makes unjust judgments about what others are worthy of.

March 14: On Saturday, I learned a few different random things. Something stuck out to me in the morning while reading in Romans.

"For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." --Romans 10:2-4

I had never understood it this way before. People that establish their own righteousness, living by a set of rules, do not understand the righteousness of God, the righteousness that comes from faith.

I also learned about some common things that happen in Dubai, one of the world's richest cities, that would seem downright crazy to many of us. Wild cats ride in the front seats of cars with people as their pets. They have ATMs that give you gold and extra wide Jeeps that look like two smushed together. Camels are tied up in parking lots, much like horses with buggies are in my hometown. There are ice cafes in the desert that serve hot drinks. Yep, it's an interesting world.

March 14 was also Pi Day, to celebrate the mathematical constant pi. It was designated in 2009. I didn't know we needed a day to celebrate pi. Why can't we celebrate pie instead?

March 15: On Sunday I tried shawarma at Laziz in London. Shawarma is a meat stacked and roasted on a rotating spit, and is then served with other toppings and condiments in a pita. I've had gyros and other pita wraps before, but never shawarma. I was disappointed that cheese does not belong on shawarma. Nevertheless, I got my chicken shawarma topped with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, pickled turnip, tabouli and tzatziki sauce, all wrapped up in a pita. I had never had turnips before, and pickled turnips are definitely not my thing. Tabouli is interesting. It's a salad made of bulgar wheat, chopped parsley, onions, tomatoes, garlic, etc. That added a refreshing element. All in all, shawarma is pretty good, but it's not my new favourite. We had fun exploring the Middle Eastern store and butcher shop, looking at the different kinds of cultural food items. At least now I know where I can definitely find tahini if I want to make my own hummus. 

March 16: Thomas Edison was a thief! And he almost seemed proud of it! I couldn't believe it. He ended up bankrupting George Melies, the first master filmmaker, after he stole and pirated his film A Trip to the Moon. The filmmaker stopped making films by 1914 because of lack of money.

March 17: In honour of St. Patrick's Day, I set out to learn relevant Irish information. Saint Patrick was abducted as a teenager and sold into slavery in another country. There he adopted his parents' faith while enslaved, but eventually ran away and journeyed back to his home country. Here he became a priest. He then willingly returned to the country where he was enslaved and served the poor. It's sad that the way the day is celebrated is so far removed from how it all started.

But, what I really wanted to know was where the line "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" came from and how it came to be on countless T-shirts. This was an observation I made a number of years ago when I went to the Embro Highland Games and wondered what the point was. Why do you want people to kiss you just because your're Irish? Well, it turns out the phrase came from the Blarney Stone. Kissing the Blarney Stone in Blarney Castle was believed to bring good luck and make a person a smooth talker. But if you couldn't kiss the Blarney Stone, the next best thing or chance at good luck was to kiss an Irish person.

March 18: This past fall I began using oregano oil to boost my immune system, since I'm prone to get colds and coughs on about a monthly basis from the fall into spring. This winter I was determined I was not going through that cycle again and I wanted to strengthen my immune system. Oregano oil is expensive, but I was able to make a 10mL bottle last about 5 months. Aside from a few days or a week here or there where I felt a little under the weather, it did the job until just a few weeks ago. I had recently bought another bottle, 30mL of a different brand this time, which cost me less than the first bottle I bought. But I noticed immediately it didn't have the same strength as the first. Oregano oil has a very strong taste, and I found I could tolerate more with the second bottle. That's because I discovered it was diluted with olive oil. But what I really wondered about was how it said it contained minimum 80% carvacrol. I finally wanted to know what this stuff was, and whether this was further compromising the strength of the oil. 

It turns out carvacrol is a monoterpenoid phenol (whatever that is) found in the essential oils of oregano, thyme, pepperwort, wild bergamot, marjoram and savory. It prevents the growth of different types of bacteria. So it's not that my oregano oil is diluted with a completely different substance, but I'm still going back to a more expensive brand once this bottle is gone.

I also got to try Reid Chocolates. I really like chocolate, but fancy chocolate like this was  real treat.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Spring Brings New Life....In a Messy Sort of Way

In the past couple weeks, my life has taken me on a journey of highs and lows. Although most people would never know what I've all been processing and what's been happening, there has been a process of breaking and healing happening. And it feels strangely reminiscent of former years. It seems so often that this time of year for me is a time of painful growth. And then I looked outside and found that my life inside is strangely reminiscent of the world outside.

Spring is coming! There's hope. The freezing winter temperatures are giving way to numbers above zero! It's so exciting. And I look forward to sunshine, warm weather, robins, daffodils, the beach. But today when I look outside, it's kind of yuck. You see, spring doesn't come overnight and the process often leaves things a little messy. As temperatures rise, the snow melts and the white picturesque landscape gives way to one a little less picturesque. Mounds and drifts of snow that were once glistening white get dirty as they shrink and melt away. Patches of exposed earth reveal mud, debris, and dead grass. Nighttime brings in fog and thick mists that last into the afternoon, making very little distinguishable in the distance. Winter was beautiful and summer will be too, but for awhile things look a little dreary and gross. Ah, this is so reminiscent of what has happened in my spiritual life so many times.

The weather as it is now makes for great maple syrup weather. With freezing temperatures at night and single digits warm during the day, the sap is running. But in order for that sap to become the rich, amber syrup I pour on my pancakes, it has to go through a long refining process. The sap is greatly reduced and purified as it's boiled down more and more. Ah, this too, is reminiscent of my life.

As I reflect on the last eight years of my life, the spring months have often been difficult. They have also often been seasons of growth, seasons where I have drawn closer to God, or gotten to know His love more deeply. They have been seasons where the direction of my life has taken a dramatic change. I have left one path to take another people couldn't understand. I have wrestled with God, as He broke my will, brought me to confession, repentance, and painful obedience. I have been in such dark, deep valleys I wished I could just go home to be with Jesus instead of face what was ahead. They have been times of physical illness or spiritual healing as I worked through deep pain and brokenness. They have been seasons like the one I see outside right now. The ice and snow melting away to reveal an ugliness I would much rather keep blanketed in white.

And it has been in these times where I have gotten to know God more. These times happen at other times of the year, not just the spring months. The times I get to know the Father that loves, cherishes and holds me, the One who chastens me because of the depths of His love for me, and breaks me so He can clean and heal the wounds. I get to know Jesus more, the Lover and Prince Who pursues me relentlessly, and wants to take me as His bride. I learn to understand the Spirit, that the conviction I often experience is evidence that I am indeed a child of God, and that He does not ask something of me without giving the comfort, peace and strength to do it. I get to know the God who breaks me and heals me, gently asks me to face the pain, not to hurt me, but because He desperately wants to use it for good. 

It's times, like the moments in the last few weeks that I feel God in a way I can't explain, even when I'm not doing anything normally considered spiritual. It's in the moments that I sense He is moving and saying something, even if I can't understand what it is. It's in the moments, my joy turns to tears because of what I feel inside...He's there. The time I look outside and see the melting snow creating pools and streams, the fog that clouds everything over, and I know this is what it's like. This is what it's often like when God moves and does something new. Sometimes it gets ugly and messy and we have to face a lot of uncomfortable stuff, and things are cloudy and for awhile we can't see clearly what's in front of us. It's when I think of the maple trees and how the sap has to be refined and I see, this is what the Christian life is like. Or just the moments I smile when I see a little girl with Down Syndrome delightedly licking away at a giant swirly lollipop (the kind most parents can't stand) and I feel like I see Jesus.

Can we hold on to these moments? The moments God speaks and brings new life, the moments He shows us His love, or the way He reveals things to us in the simple, everyday things, or the changing of the seasons?

And I think how in just a few weeks the church will celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, wherein lies our salvation, our hope of eternal life. We always celebrate in spring, amid all the symbols of new life. In spring, we celebrate the New Life that He came to give. And when it happened, it was a messy Spring. It was an agonizing spring that brought that new life, the hardest Jesus had to endure. The grief that made Him drip blood like sweat. The brutal torture he endured. The death He died on a cross as He bore the sin of man and the wrath of God. The darkness that covered the earth as men feared and trembled. The three silent days when those who loved Him feared hope was lost.

Then in one moment. The empty tomb. The shed grave clothes. NEW LIFE!

 But oh, it was a messy Spring.

In order for life to happen, things often get messy first, or downright painful. We see it in nature, in the changing of the seasons, and in the cross. Any mother that has ever given birth can certainly testify to this truth as well. But following the pain, that baby takes it's first breath and utters a cry....and it's beautiful.

Right now things look somewhat dreary and messy outside. But the days are coming where the grass will be thick and lush, the flowers will bloom, the trees will bud, and the robins will sing. And God desires to do the same things in our lives, to bring life and healing out of darkness and pain, to make beautiful what is dirty and messy now.

This is what God does. He brings new life in messy ways. And sometimes we have to wrestle with Him to get it.

"When we get so close to God in our wrestling that He breathes on us, life happens." --Trudy Metzger

Friday, 13 March 2015

What Did I Do?: Masks, Funnel Cake, and Whip Kicks

Well, I'm feeling the hurt of lack of creativity, but I'm trying and learning new things nonetheless.

March 5: Last Wednesday, I saw an interesting snippet in the local newspaper, but it didn't occur to me that it was something new. The next day, I pulled that snippet out of a newspaper and got it drilled in my mind. According to The Aylmer Express, "Daylight Savings Time was originally instituted during the First Great War as a way to save energy in Europe, U.S.A. and Canada. It was cancelled at the end of the war but reinstituted during the Second Great War." I did not know that. I know that I don't mind falling back, but springing forward is a little more difficult to adjust to.

March 6: Although I'm not really into a whole lot of beauty stuff, what do I do on a day I feel under the weather? Pamper myself, of course! So I attempted the facial mask. I had researched some different recipes, many of which seemed pretty straightforward. I found some interesting ones, like the one that used ground coffee and cocoa, but I couldn't justify wasting a 1/4 cup of expensive Hershey's cocoa on my face. Another one that intrigued me was one for acne-prone/acne-scarred skin, which called for a pureed onion. But then it occurred to me that putting pureed onion on my face could become an emotional ordeal. In the end, I settled for grinding up some oatmeal in my Bullet, adding some honey and water. It smelled good. And I confess, I ate some before putting it on my face.

The facial is supposed to tighten your skin, and my skin definitely felt tight with oatmeal drying on it! I won't post pictures of that, because I don't look so good with breakfast on my face. But while I was waiting for 15-20 minutes, I sang this simple song, which has been on my mind a lot lately, and seemed fitting for the occasion.

"I have so many masks to cover up and hide."

Washing all the oatmeal off was a bit tedious, and I found myself thinking "I don't think I'm going to do it this again." But afterwards when I saw and felt how nice my face was, I wasn't so sure anymore. Who knows?

March 7: After my shift at work Saturday, I fried myself a funnel cake. I had never had a funnel cake before, and although we unfortunately didn't have ice cream or berry sauce or any other kind of yummyness to put on it, we did have whipped cream. Oodles of sweet, fatty goodness!

March 8: On Sunday, I saw a video about how to use a seam sipper in a way I didn't know. Not that I sew. In truth, the thought of sewing terrifies me. I would do just about any household chore before trying to sew. But if I do try, the seam ripper has to be handy.

Then I also read an article from which I learned some new things, although it also left me somewhat disturbed and disgusted. In 1951, doctors could take tissue samples from patients and use them for research without the patient's permission. And so, one woman's cells were mass reproduced and sold for research and other medical and scientific discoveries. I had very mixed feelings about the situation, especially when something is taken from a person and turned into a multibillion-dollar industry without their knowledge.

March 9: In my swim class, I tried learning the whip kick. By this I mean there was a whole lot of kicking going on, but I wasn't going much of anywhere. I can almost guarantee people that if they were in a pool with me during one of my lessons, the two phrases they would hear out of my mouth most often would be "I hate this!" and "I can't do this!" Thankfully, I'm not ready to give up. I enjoy it, even when I'm frustrated, can't figure something out, or just don't have the strength and endurance. I do sometimes wonder what people think of me when they see my talking to myself, trying to talk myself through what I'm supposed to do, or should have done before sinking below the surface again. However, I did have a great conversation with the lifeguard afterward, just encouraging each other in our faith, and swimming has been one thing I'm so glad I'm learning.

March 10: Since I would like to learn how to knit and crochet, an article about the history of knitting caught my attention on Knowledge Nuts. It turns out, men used to knit professionally while women weren't allowed. There were guilds that men could get into but it was about as difficult to become a professional knitter as becoming a blacksmith. Only in the Victorian Era did knitting become a hobby dominated by women.

March 11: On Wednesday morning, I was reading in the book of Acts, and in Acts 22, the word "tribune" caught my attention. It occurred to me I didn't know what a tribune was. I held that thought and kept reading, becoming aware of the number of times the words "tribune" or "tribunal" came up. Then I headed to my computer for some research, and I learned more than I initially anticipated.

According to, one of the definitions of "tribune" is as follows:

" 1. a person who upholds or defends the rights of the people
2. Roman History
a. any of various administrative officers, especially one of 10 officers elected to protect the interests and rights of the plebeians from the patricians
b. any of the six officers of a legion who rotated in commanding the legion during the year."

Between the dictionary and Wikipedia, I learned a number of things. Plebeians were the common body of free Roman citizens, while patricians were the ruling class of ancient Rome. A tribunal was a raised platform where officials would take their seats.

Going back to the text with this knowledge, a lot more made sense now. When the centurion was going to flog Paul in Acts 22:22-30, he called the tribune. It was the tribune's job to intervene on Paul's behalf, a common Roman citizen. This also explains why, when Paul's nephew comes to Paul in the barracks to tell him about the ambush planned against him in Acts 23, Paul asks the centurion to take his nephew to the tribune to speak to him. This tribune was Claudius Lysias. Lysias actually comes on the scene already in Acts 21, but it didn't occur to me then to ask what a tribune was.

There were also military tribunes as mentioned in Acts 25:23. And although I'm not exactly sure what he meant, Paul says he's standing before Caesar's tribunal in Acts 25:10. So I don't know what everything means, but what I learned does give me a better understanding of what's going on in these chapters. I also learned that the barracks referenced in Acts 21-23 when connected to Lysias's cohort, refers to the Tower of Antonia, which was rebuilt by Herod. This tower was located on the northwest side of the temple in Jerusalem.

Isn't it funny how often I can read something over and over again and never really know what it means? Sometimes it's just because I'm too lazy to put the effort into finding out. But I'm glad I'm taking the time this year to put in the effort.

Friday, 6 March 2015

What Did I Do?: Engagement Rings!

I took it really easy this week, and although I didn't learn or do much of anything really excited, my mind has been more than occupied. I have been reminded this week that I am so not in control of my life and every day is a blank page. A lot of what is going to be written on those pages will depend on whether or not I am willing to yield to God's calling, whether it's at home where I am or somewhere else.

February 26: On Thursday night, I had dinner with a friend, and since way too many people seemed to want the $11.95 steak dinner in one restaurant, we hopped over to Crabby Joe's instead of waiting 15 minutes for a table. There I enjoyed a Peppercorn Chicken BLT Sandwich and a bowl of Wicked Thai Soup. A soup with the word "wicked" in it is going to get my attention. It was a creamy, spicy rose soup with chicken, rice, mushrooms and veggies. Good, but a small portion at once is plenty. Too much is certainly not good for my IBS tummy.

February 27: On Friday, my eye caught an intriguing link to a site where you could find out what the #1 hit song was on the day you were born. I don't know who keeps track of this stuff for all those years, but apparently on my birthday, the #1 hit was "Black or White" by Michael Jackson. This led me to learn some more interesting things. I won't share the video here, because, well, it's a Michael Jackson video.

February 28: Earlier in the week, my eye caught an article on Knowledge Nuts about the history of engagement rings. Not that this would be something that would intrigue a young woman like me or anything! Of course I wanted to know! But I must say it was rather disappointing. It's pretty much just so big companies can make big money. Since medieval times, when a man promised to marry a woman, it was a legally binding contract. If a man broke off the engagement, his fiancee could sue him. The law, in this way, provided some insurance to the woman, who would have a more difficult time marrying if she was previously engaged. Beginning in the 1930s in America, states began to do away with this "breach of promise to marry" law, and DeBeers saw the opportunity to market an engagement ring! This way the suitor had to make an investment to get engaged and it provided an "insurance" to the woman that the law no longer did. If the man broke off the engagement, the woman still had the ring. Now though, a woman is expected to return the ring if an engagement is broken off. Although engagement rings have some earlier history, it seems the real reason they became common was to make money.

This was really disappointing. I was expecting something much more romantic. However, I admit, I still want a man down on one knee to put a shiny, diamond ring on my hand some day as I say "Yes" to being his wife.

March 1: So, about this resolution of mine. Some days I forget about it, then I remember, then I forget about it again, and then all of a sudden I remember again. Sunday was such a day. So late in the evening, I was flipping through a dictionary again.

"cassoulet: a stew of beans with pork, mutton, and either duck or goose"

Done. I can go to sleep now.

March 2: On Monday, I dragged myself to the pool, but it turned out to be a better lesson than I had anticipated. I can swim on my back, but this week, my instructor taught me strokes, so now I can do an actual back crawl. Although it felt really crazy at first, I learned much quicker than I had anticipated. I wish it was all that easy. The front crawl has been my thorn. Last week I almost drowned myself working on it. It would be so much easier if I didn't have to turn my head out of the water to breathe and then keep swimming.

March 3: Snow stormy days make for a good excuse to bake, right? Naw, I don't need an excuse to bake. I just bake! So I made carrot brownies. No, they don't have any chocolate in them. It was more like carrots, orange juice and oatmeal. Kind of like a carrot cake, but a different flavour. I got a little carried away making the glaze. Without thinking, I dumped a bunch of milk in my icing sugar at once. So it was really runny and clumpy. How does one fix this? Just add more icing sugar! So, with the help of a whisk, I got a smooth glaze, although much more than necessary.  But what am I going to do with leftover glaze? However, as I looked at the edges nearly drowning, with only a little left in my bowl, I said, "I think I better stop now."

March 4: Wednesday I learned something strange. Some crazy guy by the name of James Moran sat on an ostrich egg in 1947 for 19 days and successfully made it hatch. He did all kinds of crazy stunts, and people paid him to do it. He was a publicity agent, which made me ask, "What's a publicity agent?" Well, publicity agents help draw attention to people, products, events, etc., and I guess James Moran was the guy to do it.

Furthermore, I researched recipes for facial masks, which is something I want to try. You'll get to read about that next week!