Track pants and good friends

A lot of my time has been spent pondering the best strategies for making new friends.  Getting to know new people can be fun and interesting, but it’s also hard work.  You have to be ‘on‘ all the time.  There is nothing that exhausts me more than being ‘on.’

At the beginning of any romantic relationship, I always looked forward to the day I could finally trade in my tight jeans for track pants.  Swap my perfectly straighten hair for my natural wild mess.   That’s when I knew we were solid and comfortable, and I could finally stop being ‘on’ all the time.

I have a similar end goal for new friendships.  I anticipate the days of too much wine and cheese, and comfortable silences.  Laughing like hyenas is also the sign of a good friend made.

A good friend, is so special. A rare find in a sea of acquaintances and fair-weather friends.  It takes time to nurture a friendship into a good friendship. Whether they live down the street or across the country, I plan to make a more concerted effort to nurture those friendships that bring me comfort and joy.

This woman, recently featured in a Humans of New York post, sums it up:

“What’s been your greatest accomplishment?”
“Keeping in touch with distant friends and relatives.”
“Why is that important?”
“It’s important to always have people who remember you at various stages of your life. It’s especially important as you get older, because there are less of those people around. And they remind you who you are.”

The best part about a good friend?  Time and distance don’t seem to matter.

 – Miss 416🙂

The Facebook friending dilema

did-we-just-become-best-friends-yep

To friend or not to friend. I spend a lot of time, and probably too much time, thinking about this.

Facebook is a tricky thing. Personally I find it great for staying in touch with friends, and feeling like I have some idea of what is going on in my friends lives. But Facebook also plays another role, the social calendar one. So many people are using Facebook for planning get together’s and social events, whether it’s a big party, or just dinner with a group of friends. It’s a little crazy to think that something so little as a friend request can mean so much when you’re trying to make a go in a new place.

The tricky part of Facebook comes when deciding when is the right time make a new Facebook friend and when to send the friend request.

When is the right time to ask a potential real-life friend to be your Facebook friend?

What if they only know your first name? Will they know who I am when they see the request?

Is it creepy if I searched for them on Facebook (although if we’re honest with ourselves we all do a little Facebook stalking)? 

Since I moved to my new home I’ve made one (was v. excited about this!) new Facebook friend….she may have been the yoga instructor who “friends” all clients, but still… Since then I’ve been invited to a clothes swap (see my post: Thrill of the First Invite) and I feel there are two women who I’ve made connections with. I made the leap of faith earlier this week and sent “friend requests” to both. One accepted right away (success!) and the other… well I’m still anxiously waiting which results in completely ridiculous and random questions going through my head.

It’s been a week and they haven’t replied?

Does she know my last name? Maybe she doesn’t know the request is me?

Does that mean they don’t like me? Or are they’re just too busy and don’t check Facebook as much as me?

It’s probably weird to ask someone whether they saw the request I sent last week? Probably…

Yet again I feel like I’m in high school.

Well I’m happy to report that a week later my pending friend request was accepted!! I now have four Facebook friends in my new community (since ‘friending’ the other three I’ve made another FB friend!)

Considering there’s apparently 25 people aged 30-34 in my community this is huge!

 ~Ms902

Flower Crowns and Sangria!

Flower crown

The beautiful flower crown I created

Last month I feel like I hit a milestone in my adventures in making friends as an adult. I think I have actually made some friends!!

I’ll start by saying that I’m a fairly crafty person, I like to learn how to do new things and make things with my hands. It’s a great feeling to hold in your hands something that you, yourself, created. Sometimes (many times) it doesn’t turn out, but regardless I’m normally always left with a smile on my face and sense of accomplishment. So needless to say, whenever someone is holding some type of “workshop” on how to make something my interest is piqued. So earlier in June a woman I met in my yoga class mentioned she was going to be hosting a flower crown workshop…it sounded interesting.  Add to that a location that’s within walking distance from my house, AND the talk of food and sangria… I was SOLD!

I was a bit hesitant in going at first because I still don’t know many people in my community and was worried that everyone would know each other…except for me. But I reminded myself that I can’t let my anxiety hold me back from doing something that I probably would enjoy. I feel like as an adult you really have to put yourself out there and push aside any nervousness when you’re trying to meet new people. Once I get over that initial hurdle it always seems to be fine..like when I started going to yoga.

Flower Crowns and Sangria. It was a perfect pairing for the first day of summer. Instead of bringing food to share, I decided to add to the sangria pool and mixed up one of the best batches of Sangria I’ve ever made.

White Zinfandel Summer Sangria with a Kick

1 bottle of White Zinfandel (a $15 (or less) bottle works just fine)
1L sparking water or club soda
2 oz. Dark Rum
2 apricots chopped
1 pint raspberries
5-8 strawberries chopped
1 orange
1/2 cup Rhubarb Syrup (or a plain Simple Syrup)

1 day (or a few hours) before: Combine apricots, strawberries and raspberries in a large bowl. Add rum and rhubarb syrup and stir, making sure all fruit is covered in the rum rhubarb deliciousness. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or a few hours).

The following day add marinated fruit + liquid and wine to a large pitcher. Cut the orange in half. Add the juice from one half of the orange. Slice the other half of the orange and add to the mixture. When you are about to serve add 1L of sparking water/club soda. Pour over ice. Sit back relax and enjoy summer🙂

Sorry for no picture – it was too delicious and disappeared quickly😉 And the workshop was a lovely afternoon spent with some wonderful ladies (who I hope will someday be great friends)

 

~Ms902

 

Clean Eating: hot coconut quinoa cereal

Project: Make Friends has taken a bit of a back seat for me  lately.  JH has been dealing with a mysterious illness for the past couple of months, so most of my time has been taken up by doctor’s appointments and Googling medical symptoms (the worst possible thing a person can do if you don’t want a diagnosis of severe illness and/or imminent death).  A recent visit to a naturopath now has him on a hypoallergenic diet for a few weeks to see if food sensitivities might be contributing to his symptoms.  Because I’m such a great girlfriend, I agreed to also adhere to the diet, but for two exceptions: coffee and wine.

This means no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, no soy, etc.  Basically none of the good stuff!

No cheesecake???

Joking aside, since starting this clean eating challenge a couple of weeks ago, I must admit that it has resulted in some positive results, not only for JH’s health, but for both of our waistlines. It almost makes saying “no thanks” to cheesecake worth it!

I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of creating tasty meals within the very restrictive parameters of this diet.  For example, the other day for breakfast I made some hot quinoa cereal topped with berries and pecans.   It was hearty, full of protein and quite delicious.

 

Hot Quinoa Cereal

Hot Coconut Quinoa Cereal

I used ordinary quinoa to make this, because I had it in my pantry, though you can also buy quinoa flakes for a creamier texture.

When life gives you a hypoallergenic diet, eat quinoa cereal

When life gives you a hypoallergenic diet, eat quinoa cereal

Here is the recipe I used, but feel free to adjust it to your taste and dietary restrictions:

Hot Coconut Quinoa Cereal

1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)

1 cup of quinoa

1 can of coconut milk

2 tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon of stevia*

Toppings

pecans

mixed berries

pumpkin seeds

 

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed (about 15 minutes). Slowly pour in the coconut milk, adding about a 1/4 of a can at a time.  When all of the coconut milk has been incorporated, stir in the shredded coconut and the stevia.  Cook until quinoa is plump and creamy.

Top with pecans, mixed berries and pumpkin seeds- or any another combination of nuts, fruit and seeds.

Finish with extra almond milk, if desired.

*When I made this, all sugars- natural or refined, were restricted.  However, Stevia– a natural sweetner made from the  leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana- was allowed.  Stevia has no calories, is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar and has quite an after taste.  I would suggest using maple syrup, honey or agave to sweeten the cereal if you are no on such a restrictive diet.  If you do choose to use stevia, a little goes a long way!

Enjoy🙂

~Miss 416

 

 

Margaritas on the fly

 

140213_goldsmith_cpk_0339_lores

Does your group of friends have a signature cocktail?  A few years ago my girlfriends and I became obsessed with margaritas.  We experimented with making a dozen different versions but discovered in the end that the classic lime margarita on the rocks never fails to impress.  It’s the perfect summer drink!  Although we pretty much drink it year round.    The key is to use fresh lime juice and either homemade simple syrup or agave nectar.

I decided that instead of listing an exact recipe I’m just going to list the ingredients because the truth is, we wing it.

You’ll need:

Kosher salt or ground sea salt for the rim (plus a little sugar to taste)
Tequila (I like gold)
Fresh lime juice
Cointreau or orange juice
Agave nectar or simple syrup
Extra limes for garnish (or whatever fruit is in your fridge)

I start by rimming each glass with ground salt and sometimes I throw in a little sugar as well to make it less harsh.  The salt rim shouldn’t make you cringe on your first sip. Next I add lots of ice and a shot of tequila per glass (half a shot for someone who doesn’t usually drink tequila).  Then I juice a bunch of limes and add about a shot of lime juice to each glass.  The next step is adding the simple syrup or agave.  I like my margaritas sweet so I add quite a bit.  I would recommend adding a little and then doing a taste test.  Finally a splash of Cointreau or orange juice completes this delicious drink.  For garnish you can add a wedge of lime but my friends and I usually put whatever fruit is in the fridge.  This means pretty much anything works including raspberries, blueberries, pears, oranges.. the list goes on.

Enjoy!!

~Miss Arbutus

P.S.

If you are really short on time just throw a shot of tequila into a glass filled with ice and store bought lemonade.  It’s totally delicious and your friends will love you.  I made some last night and it was a hit!

20140625_181751

Social life or family reunion?

Last weekend was crazy busy!  My aunt hosted a  birthday dinner for me on Friday  (32 years young!).  On Saturday afternoon I went to a baby shower (my cousin’s)  while JH went to a baseball game (with my younger brother).  Saturday night we went out for dinner-and a few too many drinks- at a recently opened restaurant  (with my older brother and sister-in-law). Sunday we had brunch plans (at my parents’s house with my siblings), and then went to watch JH’s little sister’s soccer game.  We finished off the day getting gelato with his little sister and step-mom.

 

Family ≠ Friends... or do it?

Can Family = Friends?

So does it count as a social life when you are mostly hanging out with family?  I mean we are lucky to have moved closer to family. Even luckier to like hanging out with our family.   They’re actually pretty cool. It would be so convenient to just rely on family to occupy all of my time.  Lord knows between our two very large and active families, it would be very easy to do.  But something tells me that a social life should include non-related friends.

 

Kim, Khole, and Kourtney are best friends right?

Kim, Khole, and Kourtney are best friends right?

 

I guess ‘Project Make Friends’ continues…

~ Miss 416

 

Making Friends and Managing Expectations

Making friends is not like baking apple pie. There are no set of ingredients that when mixed together is guaranteed to result in a new great group of friends.  Managing expectations vs. reality is definitely what all three of us have encountered while settling into our new surroundings.

One of the things that spurred our interest in starting this blog  was a posting on BuzzFeed– Making Friends as an Adult: Expectations vs. Reality 

Expectation: When you move to a new city you won’t have trouble finding a new group of friends.

Expectation: When you move to a new city you won’t have trouble finding a new group of friends.

Reality: You smiled and said hi to someone in the grocery store and they just continued walking.

Reality: You smiled and said hi to someone in the grocery store and they just continued walking.

This feed is hilarious…and so true!!  We all identified with it.  Between the three of us we have encountered all of these expectations and sad realities, often resulting in funny and self-deprecating stories that we share with each other… and now share with you😉

 

 

~Ms902, Miss416, MissArbutus

When life gives you rhubarb, make a Rhubarb Gimlet!

Gimlet

When my husband and I bought our home this year (our first home!) we didn’t know what to expect…we bought it “as is”…and so far the best way to characterize it is an Adventure. Home ownership has given us a lot of surprises so far…a lot of which were unwanted… but this spring one of the pleasant surprises was the discovery of 2 very large rhubarb plants!!!
I love rhubarb, especially when it’s mixed with strawberries and baked in a pie or made into a jam. But there is a whole world of rhubarb opportunities out there!

So when life gives you rhubarb, make rhubarb syrup…..and then mix yourself a rhubarb rosemary gimlet! huzzah!

Rhubarb Syrup Inspired by The Kitchn’s Rhubarb Syrup recipe
Yields 1.5 cups

4 cups chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (inside scrapped out)
1 cup water

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until all rhubarb has broken down and liquid has thickened slightly (~15 minutes).

Strain liquid through a colander lined with cheese cloth. The cheese cloth will strain out the rhubarb pulp and leave you with a beautiful and rich coloured rhubarb syrup. The syrup will keep in your fridge for about 2 weeks (but will likely be gone well before then!).

Don’t throw out the rhubarb mash you are left with in your colander – it is delicious on it’s own or stirred into yogurt.

Rhubarb combo

Rhubarb Syrup2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhubarb Rosemary Gimlet

2 oz. Gin
2 oz. Rhubarb syrup
Juice of 1 lime wedge
Stir and Garnish with fresh rosemary

The perfect summer drink for entertaining new friends. Enjoy🙂

~ms902

Wicked brunch and friend dates

tumblr_inline_mm829rjDU81qz4rgp

For the past few weeks a new friend of mine has been saying she wanted to have my fiancé and I over for dinner, but between busy schedules and babies we couldn’t seem to pick a night.  Then one day we realized the best time for both of us to meet was for Sunday brunch!  My girlfriend served a wonderfully simple meal of pancakes, seasonal fruit and delicious fried egg sandwiches.  I could tell we all felt relaxed drinking tea and chomping on syrupy goodness while getting to know each other better.

Have you ever hosted brunch for a group of friends?  I think these Dutch Baby pancakes from What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today would be a big hit.  They look so decadent!

~ Miss Arbutus

tumblr_inline_mm82g7te4E1qz4rgp

25 people aged 30 to 34!!

Yes. You read right.

Recently, during a bout of procrastination (which I am very productive when doing I might add), I thought I would google to see what I could find about the demographics of the community that I now live in and call home. I’ve yet to decide if this was a good or bad idea. Here is a taste of what I found, according to Statistics Canada:

  • The population decreased by 6 people from 2006 to 2011. Generally, this wouldn’t alarm me, or would be pretty insignificant to matter. However, in a population of 400, that translates to a decrease of 1.5%…..it’s a little concerning
  • There are slightly more women than men….which is pretty much in line with the Canadian average
  • There are 4 children who are under 4 years of age
  • The median age is about 53. After living here for a few months this makes sense. I’ve seen a fair number of seniors. However, this is about 10 years older than the Canadian average.
  • Finally, the most alarming and concerning stat I found was: 25 people between the ages of 30 and 34!

My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach when I read that last statistic…. 25 people aged 30 to 34…… Hmmmmm. I figure this could be looked at a few different ways:

  1. I feel I’ve probably met at least half of this group through the yoga class I’m now taking (see my posts about Operation Make Friends: Part 1 and Part 2). Since I’ve only met women, I figure the other half of the people in my age group are the women’s spouses. According to Stats Can there are only 65 single people in my community. So maybe it won’t be so hard to meet others that are my age….I’ve already met half!
  2. I haven’t met the right people in my age group and I make friends with the “wrong crowd”
  3. I piss off a popular person and am “black listed”!! But I don’t know who the cool and popular people are yet, so I’m trying to be nice to everyone.

I feel like I’ve ended up back in high school and am the new kid in school.

Anyhoo. Like I said, I’m not sure yet if it was good or bad that I decided to go sloothing through the Stats Can website while avoiding other work. One thing I did realize, and I share as a tip for others who are considering moves to new cities/towns/rural communities:

Google and investigate like crazy before you move to find out as much as you can about your soon new-to-be home!

What you find may better prepare you and maybe even influence your decision.

~ms902