Calgary Public Library

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On my adventure last week I mentioned that I stopped into the Calgary Public Library. I haven’t done a library post in a very long time so I’m glad to be able to do one now.

The exterior of the building wasn’t very magnificent but it is right in the downtown core of Calgary so there isn’t much space to make it elaborate. It sits right next to the city hall which is currently under construction which doesn’t help the aesthetic appearance of the area.

Inside isn’t much better aesthetically: just rows and rows of books on a few different floors. Rows and rows of books always look pretty good to me though, and they had such a huge selection that I can’t knock them too much. They have a very functional space full of awesome material.

The one cool thing that they had was in the lobby of the building. For a few days they had a real fire truck set up with its lights going to teach kids about fire fighters and their work. Pretty neat!

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Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

This month’s book club pick was Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.  This was the third book of hers that I had read and I was very pleased with it. It is a kind of coming of age/love story from the point of view of a poor maid in 17th century Holland. Just my cup of tea!

I really like Chevalier’s work because she always writes historical fiction in such a way that if feels authentic and transports you to that place and time, and it teaches you about some famous person without losing the fun fictional feel.

This book is about Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and his famous work Girl with a Pearl Earring and we get to learn about him from his maid’s point of view who is also the subject in the painting.

Poor girl that begins to overstep her place in the class system; it is a simple story, but a good one.

I will surely continue to seek out Tracy Chevalier’s work because I always seem to enjoy it.

Calgary Adventures

Last week I had some time off in Calgary so I entertained myself by adventuring around the city. I had an awesome time and so I wrote about it to preserve the memory. Here’s how it went.

I had a lovely day in Calgary! I woke up and went for some complimentary breakfast at the buffet downstairs. Then I lazed on the couch with my patio doors open for a bit looking up used bookstores. I had finished my book and wanted to try to find a replacement. I got ready and then set out on my adventure. I found a book store only about a 30 minute walk from my hotel, but because it was such lovely weather I wandered a little zigzagily (if that’s not a real word I say it should be) and slowly so I could enjoy the view. It took me almost an hour to get there.

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For the first part of my walk I was along the river which was half-frozen and peaceful, and half flowing; I saw some ice chunks get carried along which was neat. Next to the river was Fort Calgary which I thought might be a sight to see but it was more of a so so looking building with flags. I suppose I could Google it’s significance but I don’t think I feel the need.

I crossed over the river on a cute little bridge and got to the book store which I spent a good chunk of time in. They didn’t have what I was looking for or anything else that caught my eye but it was a big place and I had fun wandering around and admiring the books. When I was done in there I set off to find a different route back to my hotel.

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I crossed over a different bridge back into the downtown core and I came across the downtown branch of the Calgary Public Library.  I went in of course and afterwards I crossed the street to the Olympic Plaza because some shiny objects caught my eye. Apparently it was GLOW light festival and so these spinning prism installations were to kick off the festival.

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They look really cool in the videos I took. Check out my Instagram @gillianberns to see a video of one spinning. I played around with them for a while taking pictures and videos and I wish I could have seen them lit up at night. I want one in my house I like them so much. The whole plaza was really nice; they also had an outdoor skating rink that was open to the public and some people were skating around in the afternoon sun. I finally tore myself away from them and continued walking along.

I found myself on a pedestrian only street lined with shops and restaurants that was wonderful to look at. I finally came across the mall that some of my crew members had told me about and so I decided to go in and find myself some food. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I started eating but I was definitely glad I had decided to stop in. After I ate I decided to glance at a map and head back to my hotel by this point I had been out for about 3 hours and was getting tired of walking around.

So I set out again and by the time I got back to my hotel I was sad to have to go back inside; I wanted to keep enjoying the fresh air. So I compromised: I went up to my hotel room and opened my patio doors and took a nap in the sun and fresh air, but also the had comfort of a nice bed.

It really was a fantastic afternoon, and the only way it could have been better is if I had someone here exploring with me. I think I foresee a trip to Calgary coming sometime this summer.

Salty Corn!

So a long while ago I got an air popper for popcorn. I’ve been enjoying g popcorn ever since, but I hadn’t discover a good way to salt it, until now.

I caught wind of using a water spritzer to both wet and salt the popcorn, and without reading further into it I got myself a good spritzer with a fine mist setting and went to work dissolving salt into some warm water to spray onto my popcorn.

Turns out that just made a nice mess of crusty salt on my counter and it took a lot of sprays to be able to taste the salt meaning my popcorn got a bit soggy.

Since that’s not the aim here I finally paid attention to the details of this idea and discovered that you’re supposed to spray plain water on the popcorn then shake it with some salt so the salt can stick.

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What a great idea.  So now I know how to not get my popcorn soggy, but still salt her up real nice!

Happy Beekeeping and Epilepsy Day!

So it’s Valentine’s Day, eh? Well I did a little digging about what we’re all being told to celebrate and thanks to history.com I’ve learned a couple interesting facts.

For example Saint Valentine is very likely two different men. There are conflicting histories about him and it cannot be determined either way.

Also (my favourite) Saint Valentine had other duties in his afterlife other than watching over loving couples. He was tasked with aiding beekeepers, along with plague, fainting, and epileptic sufferers.

Busy guy.

Read the whole list here: http://www.history.com/news/6-surprising-facts-about-st-valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day to the bees and the ailing!

Miso Fail

The other day I attempted to make miso soup. And it kinda worked, but mostly not.

It was a loose interpretation of the proper ingredients, and it ended up not being the most ideal. I used what I had in my fridge, so instead of green onion I used red and instead of seaweed I used spinach. Both good flavors, but they don’t scream Asian Cuisine.

This is how it went. I used:

4 cups water
3 tablespoons miso paste
1 handful spinach
2 1/2 chopped red onion
2 tablespoons tofu cubed
1 glug of oil

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Cook onions for about 2 minutes, then add the water and bring to a simmering boil. Meanwhile whisk miso paste with some hot water to prevent it from clumping. Then add it, the spinach, and tofu to the pot and stir well. Let everything simmer for about 10 minutes, then serve.

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The broth itself tasted good, miso has nice flavour on its own and then you get a hint of red onion in there. But the spinach was way too flimsy of a leaf to work, plus I’m not the biggest fan of warm floppy spinach.

Having the chunks of red onion in there was also not very good, though it did add a nice crunch to my mouthfuls.

The tofu worked just fine, though I would have liked it to have more flavour because the broth didn’t have enough pizzazz to make the tofu special. It was just kind of there.

All in all, I think I would have preferred to strain the soup and just drunk it as a broth, or perhaps not put anything other than miso in it at all.

Next time I’ll be sourcing some green onions for this and likely leaving out the green option all together.

Happy Monday!