My Return to Television

I was once a television commercial star. This commercial featured my cat Muffin and me lounging on a blanket in front of a fireplace. I was wearing a pink fuzzy housecoat. Muffin was not. I was the perfect actress because I was precocious, intelligent and looked a good three years younger than I actually was. Those are the makings of a child star, right there. People raved about my performance and called it “the most moving television commercial of 1992.”

Then years later, I appeared in an ad that was printed in the Yellow Pages of the prestigious Waterloo Region phone book. Lots changed between my two appearances. I had grown up and developed an allergy to my dear cat Muffin. I had ditched the housecoat. Because of my intelligence and artistic flair, you could not even tell I was wearing pajama pants under my jeans. Bravo, Amanda. Bravo. Here you could see me elegantly and gracefully changing a furnace filter. It was a touching piece of work, and one that will remain burned in memories for many years to come.

This past March, I made my stunning return to Canadian television. This time, I was cast as “studio audience member”. It was a true honour, and one that I’ll remember for decades. Please watch and be inspired by my two separate appearances below.

First, here I am supporting Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Jones.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 6.08.04 PM

And next, sharing the spotlight with Canadian singer/songwriter and Twitter superstar Jann Arden.

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In the interest of staying humble and down to earth, I’d like to thank all of the people in my life that made this possible. I couldn’t do it without you. Shout out to Mom, Dad, my siblings, my mentors, my cheerleaders, my friends, my amazing coworkers, my Internet family and my church family. You are truly an inspiration. I get to live out my dreams because of all of you’ve done. This is for YOU! I am so blessed!

 

Open Letter to the Internet

Dear The Internet,

Hi! It’s me, Amanda. You may have heard of me. I have a blog. I spend time on Twitter and Facebook. In general, I’m a huge fan of yours. I appreciate how much knowledge I can discover in a very short period of time. Many of my evenings are spent with you, reading or finding recipes. You also make me laugh. I appreciate you.

However.

I want to talk to you about these “viral videos” of yours. I really enjoy a good funny video. I have several go-to videos that I watch when I need a chuckle or a pick me up. I generally am aware of what’s gone viral and understand why people love it so much.

But The Internet, I’m a Kindergarten teacher. These videos mean very different things in Kindergarten. In the good ol’ days, Kindergarten kids were relatively sheltered from pop culture, unless it involved big purple dinosaurs or Bo Jackson. But now? Thanks to technology and easy access to you, kids these days know all about what’s going on in the “real world” and on the Internet.

Have you ever spent time with a child, The Internet? They’re pretty cute. For a little while. And then they find something they think is funny and they latch on to it. And never drop it. Ever. They’ll repeat the same punchlines over and over even if they’ve ceased to make sense. They’re obsessive about strange things. Sometimes they’ll repeat the same words or phrases over and over again. Call it cute, but when you’re surrounded by 27 of them on a daily basis, the charm wears off. Really, really quickly.

Let me tell you what’s been happening in my classroom this past month: Frozen. That’s what’s happening. Over and over and over again. I haven’t seen the movie, but I know the words to one of the songs. Not all of the songs. Just one. Because instead of singing the entire repertoire of music, they grab hold to ONE LINE from ONE SONG. And they repeat it. ALL DAY. The entire day. LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH.

Kindergarten kids can barely talk without Boston accents at this point in their lives. Forget singing. They sound like chipmunks. Tone deaf chipmunks. From Boston. Or like monotone robot babies. Also from Boston. The sounds that come out of their mouths are grating. I’ve developed an eye twitch. And I’m blaming it all on you, The Internet.

When I was a kid, if we wanted to hear a Disney song over and over, we’d have to rewind the VHS tape and listen, then rewind again. I wasn’t allowed to do that because Mommy had to watch Oprah after school. Or I’d have to buy the CD with my own money. That takes significantly more effort than to push play on a YouTube video. THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT.

So this is what I’m proposing. Once a video goes viral, take it down. Burn it. Destroy it. Bury the evidence. Don’t let anyone under the age of 10 listen to a popular song ever again. Maybe they’ll forget about it and move along to some other annoying thing. It’s your fault I had to write a “NO GANGNAM STYLE” rule in my grade two classroom last year. It’s also your fault that I cringe whenever I am asked what a fox says. And it is your fault that I’ve develop an intense hatred towards people named Olaf.

I’ve had enough. The cold DOES bother me anyway. Listen to my plea, The Internet. Delete any traces of that song. Please. Let it go. Let. It. Go. LET IT FREAKING GO.

Love and hugs,

 

Amanda

I Don’t Like Curry

One of my very favourite things to do is to buy an item I have no idea how to prepare, then spend an afternoon looking up different ways to cook this item. I usually find a few I like and then combine them and hope it tastes good. Sometimes it’s decent, other times it’s raddichio, and on some other really special occasions, I send a OH MY GOSH I AM A CULINARY GODDESS text to a friend.

This weekend I made something new. I have no experience eating or cooking with curry, so it scares me a little. The smell is upsetting to me. But because I am stubborn and I decided I was going to like curry, I bought some. I also bought a butternut squash and some coconut milk because none of my life choices make sense, apparently. I cook with squash on a fairly regular basis (it’s the Mennonite in me), but coconut milk is new. So hey, why not find a recipe that combines all of these things? OKAY! COOL! The results were I AM A CULINARY GODDESS spectacular, so I had to share.

This is the first time I’ve ever published one of my slightly made up recipes and I’m feeling a little vulnerable. It’s going to be long. It might not make sense, but it’ll be entertaining. I promise.

Curried Apple & Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1-2 tbsp curry powder
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated (or ½ tsp ground ginger)

1 ½ – 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
Salt & Pepper

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Because I am roughly the same size as a butternut squash, I find this task quite difficult. I do have a wonderful, marvelous Global chef’s knife that makes this job a little bit easier. But I have a better solution: make a big hulking man do this part. It’ll make him feel masculine and like he contributed to the meal. Make sure you act all sweet and helpless, to really play this up. A frilly apron might help. All of you strong, independent women who don’t need no man will just have to cut that squash yourself. Sorry.

Lightly coat the cut sides of the squash with olive oil – the extra virgin kind. Which now begs the question: can people be extra virgin, too? Think about it. Grind some salt and pepper on that beast, and sprinkle some curry powder on it. You’ll thank me later. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of honey on it. Trust me.

Put it cut side up into a shallow baking dish, with about an inch of water. Stick it in the oven to roast at 400 or 425. I don’t think it matters. Check it after 35 or 40 minutes. It might take up to an hour. I have no idea. I’m sure there’s a science to this, but I’m not familiar with it. Amanda’s science: poke it with something relatively sharp. If it’s soft, it’s done. If it still feels a little crunchy, it’s not.

Now, just before the squash is done (again, I have no idea how long that will take), you get to sauté some delicious nonsense.

I used Jazz apples, which sound like the really high brow sophisticates of apples. I’m quite classy. I used two and a half apples. Because that’s what I had in my fridge, okay? Because I only eat apples a half at a time, okay? Because I cut and core my apples before I eat them, okay? Because I refuse to eat an apple off the core, okay? BECAUSE I AM HIGH MAINTENANCE, OKAY? STOP ASKING QUESTIONS.

Sauté the apples, onion and garlic in some EVOO (or butter if you’re feeling a little naughty). You could also maybe throw in some carrots? Ooooooor potatoes? JUST THINK OF THE POSSIBILITIES! Sauté for about 10 minutes. Make ‘em sweat until they’re soft. Add the ginger, a few more grinds/dashes of salt and pepper and about a tablespoon of curry powder. Or more, if you like. I am scared of curry, so I added it cautiously. And prayed a little before I put it in, for good measure. Scrape the roasted squash from the skin and add it to this mixture. I can’t explain how wonderful this smell is. I really wish Wonka’s Smellavision was a real thing. You really must experience it for yourself.

Pour in the can of coconut milk and the stock. I put closer to two cups of stock in because it seemed a little thick. If you used apples that are a little more tart, you could drizzle more honey in the pot at this point as well. Or if your honey is crystalized and hard like mine, it would be more of a plop than a drizzle. Bring to a boil, totally forget about it like I did, hope the raging boil didn’t wreck your food, and then turn down the heat. Let it simmer uncovered, for 20 minutes. At this point everything will smell wonderful. However, don’t eat a Birthday Cake flavoured M&M in the midst of this scent experience. Your senses will be very confused and everything will be awful for a short period of time.

Blend with an immersion or regular blender until creamy and delicious.

Pro tip: make sure the lid is on your blender and the machine is turned off before you place the pitcher in the base. Splattered boiling hot soup hurts. Not that I have any experience in this department. None at all.

Wipe up the soup that has splattered all over your clothes and countertop. Uh. I mean. Only if you’re totally dumb and didn’t follow that pro tip. Or something.

Put your soup in a pretty bowl. It will be sweet at first and then the curry will give you a nice slow (mild) burn after. It is truly an experience. Please enjoy responsibly.

here's a crappy cell phone picture of the soup in a pretty bowl

here’s a crappy cell phone picture!

Have you ever made up your own recipe?

Lydia & Elizabeth & Bast & Moyer

Today’s the big day! It’s time to reveal our fun little vlog project that we did with our friends Lydia and Elizabeth.

We gave them a list of Canadian trivia questions. They answered them, then we told them the right answers. The results were quite spectacular.

First, watch their video:

Hahah, they’re so cute and clueless.

delicious.

Next, watch our video:

Keep your stick on the ice.

Hope you learned something new! Happy Monday!

National Kazoo Day

Today’s the big day! Happy National Kazoo Day, friends!

I made a video to honour such a prestigious and emotion-filled event. I hope you thoroughly enjoy it.

I sincerely apologize to my neighbours who had to endure all of the rigorous hours of kazoo practice. I’d say it won’t happen again, but I can’t make any promises. Still, I’m sorry.

Please check out some other National Kazoo Day videos courtesy of some friends of mine.
The Moyers (This video accurately explains the Moyer family better than I ever could)
Ricky Anderson (Thanks for letting me in on the fun, Ricky!)
Ricky Anderson (2011)

A Very Canadian Video

My Internet friends Lydia and Elizabeth have a vlog. They’re quite delightful. You should watch their vlog.

My Mom Friend Jan and I decided to join forces with these ladies from Nashville and make a fun little project. Over Christmas break, MF (Mom Friend) and I got together to record our part of the vlog. We discovered that we’re rather delightful as well.

Here’s a Bast (me) and Moyer (MF) History lesson (with lots of links): I prayed I’d meet someone like her (weird, right?), we met at church, we teamed up to teach the toddler Sunday School class, we became good friends, we ended up teaching at the same school, she wrote a guest blog post for me, she joined the blogging world for herself, and this September we started working on the same teaching team at school. We see each other 6 days a week. It’s kind of ridiculous. You’d think we would run out of things to talk about, but we never do (much to MF’s Bearded Husband’s dismay). So put the two of us in front of a camera, and the result? 20 minutes of footage. It’s really spectacular. All 20 minutes of it. I won’t make you watch all of it in one chunk. No no. That’s too much awesome to handle at one time.

So instead, here’s a teaser. A little Canadian treat.

Watch for our L&E debut in the coming weeks!
In the meantime you can follow everyone on Twitter:
Lydia & Elizabeth
Mom Friend

Things You Should Stop Saying

Listen. I’ve got pet peeves. It’s no secret. One of my biggest pet peeves  is when people say the same things over and over and expect them to be funny or clever or original every time. It’s almost as bad as the time in high school my buddy watched the Best of Will Ferrell SNL DVD and quoted it incessantly for months. MONTHS. Goulet.

I’ve created a ranting list of phrases I don’t like. I apologize in advance for the high level of snark you’re about to witness. Because y’all, it’s hiiiigh.

“I’m not gonna lie…”
Oh GOOD. I’m so glad you told me this upfront. Otherwise I would have assumed everything that came out of your mouth was a complete fabrication. Before you say anything else, I request that you tell me whether or not it is truth because I’m too dumb to figure it out for myself. Please and thank you.

“BACON! AHHAHAHAHAHAHHA”
Bacon is a food. Yes, it is delicious. Yes, the general population really enjoys bacon. Bacon is even considered to be “the new black”. But it’s not a punchline. Stop using it like one. Bacon is excellent, but it is not funny. It is a breakfast food. Stop pretending it is anything more than that, you ham.

“That [awkward] moment when…”
Teenagers of the world: I get that you think awkward stuff is funny. For the most part, you’re right. But the problem is half of the stuff you’re labelling as “awkward” isn’t. Seeing your crush in the hallway isn’t awkward. Unless you barf on him maybe. Adults of the world: You’re not teenagers. Stop it.

“This is going to be legen….wait for it…”
NO. No no no. I will not wait for it. How dare you make me wait for half of a word that won’t even describe what you’re wanting it to describe! Having one character in the world do this is insufferable already. Every time you leave your house to do something remotely interesting isn’t legendary. The time you and your buddies went to the bar and drank some beers is not going to be written down in history books. Regular social outings are not legendary. Stop it.

Anyone who leaves a comment using a combination of two or more of these phrases in order to intentionally irritate me.
No.

Do you have something to add to the list?

Get Out of Bed

I love my bed. I love my mattress and my sheets and my duvet and my pillows and my pile of blankets. There is nothing in my apartment that I love more than my bed. I get excited to go to bed early. I adore sleeping in late. Every morning I make breakfast, then crawl back into bed to eat my morning meal. I drink coffee in bed. I drink tea in bed. I watch movies in my bed. I wrote this in my bed. If I have a choice between a chair or my bed, I’ll choose my bed every time. If there were a way to work from my bed, I’d get that job. My bed is my safe place. It is my fortress of solitude and comfort.

When my alarm goes at 6am every morning, I don’t want to leave my bed. It’s warm and lovely, and the rest of the world can wait. Some days there are reasons to get out of bed. There is work to be done, awesome people to see and exciting things to do. I can make an impact and get the job done! I can encourage and bring joy to the people around me! There is a day that needs seizing, and the only person who can do that is me! Life can’t get any better!

Other days? Getting out of bed is hard. I have plans and I cancel them because the thought of being anywhere other than under the covers is terrifying. On the weekends my bed is more attractive than grocery shopping or cleaning. Sleeping in is far more comfortable than dragging myself to church and sitting alone in the back row. My bed is far more accepting and kind than anyone else I know.

That sounds lazy. That sounds like I lack self-discipline or motivation. But sometimes? Sometimes I know my day is going to be a downward spiral from the moment I pull those covers back. Some days are hard to face. Nasty co-workers, a nagging boss, broken relationships, no relationships, a crappy immune system, an aching body, piles of textbook readings, never-ending assignments, dirty dishes stacked up to the ceiling, unpaid bills, an empty bank account, the deafening silence of loneliness, the shame of poor choices. The list goes on. The circumstances in our lives can pin us to our sheets in fear and dread. Some days, all of your energy and motivation is spent peeling the covers back and setting your feet on the ground.

In the comfort of our bed, we start believing that we’ll accomplish nothing important, so why bother in the first place? We all get lonely and think no one likes us. We have things we’re ashamed of and wish we could erase. We’re broken. Some days will, in fact, be a downward spiral until you seek the solace of your sheets again. Some days you will accomplish nothing. Some days will be terribly sad and full of grief. Some days will be desperately lonely. Some days will be quite terrible.

And on those days? The bravest thing you can do is get out of bed.

Merry Christmas

My dearest blog readers,

Thank you for journeying with me this past year. It’s certainly been a wild ride. This fall has been full of crazy, scary, exhausting trials (to say the very least) and I am looking forward to simply resting and being with the people closest to me.  In the interest of making the people in my life smile, I took it upon myself to take some inspiring Christmas photos. Huge thanks to my sister-in-law for making this happen.

Please enjoy this photo essay of sorts.

Have a blessed holiday season.

Love,

Amanda

 

I tried taking one of those cute Pinterest baby photos, but it was more difficult than I expected.

I tried taking one of those cute Pinterest baby photos, but it was more difficult than I expected.

 

It was puzzling. How DO people take cute pictures of babies wrapped in lights?

It was puzzling. How DO people take cute pictures of babies wrapped in lights?

 

I decided to roll with it anyway.

I decided to roll with it anyway.

 

Because as long as you have a cute face, you have a cute picture. Right? RIGHT!

Because as long as you have a cute face, you have a cute picture. Right? RIGHT!

 

WHAT'S THIS? An unexpected Elfy guest?

WHAT’S THIS? An unexpected Elfy guest?

 

He descended very quickly. I didn't have time to respond.

He descended very quickly. I didn’t have time to respond.

 

HAVE MERCY ON ME SCARY ELF!

HAVE MERCY ON ME SCARY ELF!

 

PLEASE! I'M BEGGING YOU!

Oh. OH. NOW YOU’VE JUST GONE TOO FAR.

 

 

 
*Pictures in this sequence have been removed due to sensitive content not appropriate for all audiences.

 

 

 

Well. I DID warn you.

Merry Christmas, indeed.