General14 Jul 2010 09:59 pm

credit: Rick Guzzell

This is me, my brother and our good family friend Ryan chilling in Thunder Bay sometime in the late 80s. Weren’t summers the bomb when you were a kid? Trips to the candy store (no adults, penny candy and fudgsicles), diving into Silver Lake at 8am and only coming out to eat a breakfast of pancakes and bacon cooked on a fire, solo bike adventures to find a new awesome playground, falling asleep in the family Honda Civic hatchback on a road trip somewhere in the middle of Manitoba.

I hope my last two weeks in Canada are half as good as I remember those summers being. Perhaps they could be about the same, only with some adult beverages sprinkled in.

General17 Jun 2010 06:15 pm

Because at this point even I am over my own wedding, it seems like the perfect time to finally post photos. 🙂 I’ll just post some highlights, however. For the full set, please click here for the album.

First, the panoramas. Ryan Jackson, our photographer and my coworker at the Edmonton Journal, is well known for his panoramas. He does them for sporting events, building openings, fire scenes and just because in his work at the paper. I was so pleased he could do a few for our wedding.


CLICK ANY PHOTO TO MAKE IT LARGER. Especially recommended for the panoramas. Give them time to load, however.


Neon Boneyard photo panorama (Credit: Ryan Jackson)

Wedding Ceremony photo panorama (Credit: Ryan Jackson)

In the new wine cellar at Lotus of Siam after the rehearsal dinner

Shot in the parking lot of Lotus of Siam

I seriously hated my veil.

There's only one answer.

My maid and man of honour help me with my dress

Mike gets dressed...and realizes his pants are back on the Strip

This is my "Oh shit, the pants aren't here and are back on the strip and there is another wedding right after us and who is going to go and what are we going to do" face.

Of course, the show went on, slightly later than expected and everything was awesome because my friends and bridal party Matt and Amy are awesome and they went to retrieve the pants from the Strip.

My hands were shaking and I had trouble getting his ring on

wedding high five!

More neon boneyard photos

cruisin in the 1966 caddie

This is my standard WHHHHHAAAT? look

Of course, a food photo. I'll do a round up on the food at another time. (Photo by me)

Afterwards, we had a party that went into the wee hours in a suite at Mandalay Bay

This may only matter to photo nerds, but this is the HDR filter in Photoshop CS5. It's also a photo shot on a tiltshift lens.

There is only one way to get rid of left over wedding booze. And that is to drink it next to a fountain on the Strip. Mike's classy, and that's why I love him. (Photo by me)

Again, there are more photos here.

General and Travels and work (kinda)29 May 2010 06:35 pm

I have mentioned this before, but it took me a long time to get my Science degree. Over a decade, in fact. Throughout the genetics labs, English classes, late nights of studying and hours of time in the stacks at Cameron Library, I had one end result in mind: moving overseas.

I blame my parents for the influence. From a young age my family always took risks and challenges in stride, moving to places were things were fascinating – but not easy.

We lived in several different countries, each with their own culture and nuances. We moved home from overseas assignments in 1996, and I’ve been steadily accumulating friends, a mate, pets and belongings for the last 14 years. Now I’m about to give it all up again and go on the road.

In November, I submitted an application for a job overseas with the JET programme in Japan. I jumped through hoop after hoop, submitting a long personal essay, going through health and background checks, accumulating references and surviving through an interview in Calgary in February. And also waiting. Waiting a lot. At least I had the wedding to take my mind off of things.

Finally I was offered a job in April and I’ve accepted it. JET is a Japanese government run program that places teachers from around the world in Japanese classrooms as a sort of cultural exchange. The teachers learn Japanese and experience Japan, and the students learn English and learn about our home country. We get paid well and are offered extraordinary support from the Japanese government, board of education members and other JET participants. I’ve heard things ranging from great to mediocre about the program. Nothing really terrible, though. And a lot of people write and blog about their experiences. There’s only one way to find out what it’s really like, I guess.

It will be incredibly hard to leave what I consider my dream job at the Edmonton Journal as a photo editing assistant and web producer. Working at a newspaper has been a fascinating experience and one I never expected myself to have. I can say nearly every job I’ve had has been a dream on in one way or another, and I hope that Japan offers the same. If I could do my current job from Japan, I would. It’s not the job or the people – it’s the city. It’s time to go.

Just another day at the office, scowling at stealthy photographers snapping photos. Credit: Ryan Jackson

Standing with Journal staff photographers and other photo deskers, 2008. Credit: Walter Tychnowicz

So, finally, my dream comes true. I’m not sure what changes this blog will undergo yet, but I expect them to be somewhat major. Obviously I’m excited about the Japanese cuisine, but I’m a bit nervous over the changes cooking at home will undergo. All my cooking appliances and cookware will be given away here. Our spice collection will be pared down to the absolute must brings.

Everything I hope to use in the next year will come in two suitcases with me or shipped via boat. Mike will join me a few weeks after I get settled. The initial contract is for a year, but could be extended for as many as five.

My new home: Okinawa. It offers tropical beaches, treehouse restaurants and exquisite uniquely Japanese experiences like sakura/cherry blossom viewing parties

We’ll be living on Okinawa which is kind of like the Hawai’i of Japan. It has a culture unique unto itself even compared to the already unusual Japan, and for this reason is a tourist attraction to “mainland” Japanese. There is a heavy American influence with the US military presence on the island. The climate is tropical and the days are hot and humid, and there are many island diversions we hope to avail ourselves of such as diving, fishing and rock climbing. We’re actually closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, and so I hope to finally begin forays into China.

I’m a naturally nervous person at heart, but I can honestly say that although moving nerves do keep me up from time to time at night, I’m ready to spring into action and start down a new path. I will be leaving Canada July 30…so not long to go!

Crafts etc and Food and General and work (kinda)21 Mar 2010 01:05 am

I once had a pretty great job. (A great job that morphed into an awesome job, in fact.) But, I digress. At the great job I scanned and photographed vintage ephemera. Old scrapbooks, books, cards, diaries. I worked for a research project where we digitized old texts for researchers to use. It was an infinitely interesting job. Sometimes a bit tedious (I come by the nickname Scan Monkey honestly), but still interesting.

Therefore it was with great interest that I checked out the New York Public Library’s digital archives today. They are so much cooler than what I did. What they’ve compiled is a stunning assortment of scans and images from their huge collection, ranging from zoology to science & medicine to “cigarette cards.”

My favourite today is the menus, however. Of course. They all come from one collector: Miss Frank E. Buttolph. Astonishing. From the collection description:

The menu collection originated through the energetic efforts of Miss Frank E. Buttolph (1850-1924), a somewhat mysterious and passionate figure, whose mission in life was to collect menus. In 1899, she offered to donate her existing collection to the Library — and to keep collecting on the Library’s behalf. Presciently, director Dr. John Shaw Billings accepted her offer and for the next quarter century Miss Buttolph continued to add to the collection. Her principal method of acquisition was to write to every restaurant she could think of, soliciting menus. When letters failed, she often marched into a restaurant and pleaded her case in person. She also placed advertisements in trade publications like The Caterer and The Hotel Gazette, but just as often, published news of her collection prompted outright contributions of specimens from around the world.

She collected some 25,000 menus before her death in 1924.

Menu from the Farewell dinner for the Japanese Minister at the Arlington in 1887. I love the champagne and cigarette break.

Menu from the Fourth of July dinner at the Bass Rock Hotel in 1888.

Luncheon en route the R.M.S Oceanic in 1900.

New Year’s Dinner at the Portland (hotel) in Portland, Oregon, 1895.

Daily cafeteria lunch menu at 57 Broad Street, New York City, 1900. Look at the prices and the the way the menu is divided.

Wine list from an Elks’ dinner, on a trip en route to Buffalo in 1905.

I could spend all day finding and posting interesting menus from this archive. My only gripe is that many of the menus are for society dinners and high class events. However, they do offer insight into what was fashionable in food at the time: turtle, sauces, cigarettes and cured meats, it would seem.

I also love the design, artwork and attention to detail paid to the menus. They sure don’t make ’em like they used to. As I continue to search for inspiration for the design the of the menus for our wedding dinner, I will be investigating this archive closely, I expect.

Here are all the other archives to investigate. There is something for everyone.

General25 Dec 2009 09:29 am

Merry Christmas! I hope your hearts are as full as your stomachs today.


General14 Dec 2009 03:17 am


Colleague and friend Ryan Jackson took this series of portraits of me at work a few weeks ago on his Yashica-D. I suppose that makes this the face of 29 years and 2 weeks, but I’ll just say thirty.

I guess it is only natural to look back on your birthday, especially when it falls so close to the end of the year. I always meant to make a list of “Thirty Things (to do) Before Thirty”, but before I knew it I turned thirty. It is probably really easy to critique all the negatives and “shoulda-couldas” in my life, and trust me, there are many. But I’m already too critical and hard on myself, so instead, here are thirty great things I’m proud to have done, experienced and made happen before I was 30. Kind of a retrospective bucket list. And who doesn’t love lists?

  1. I became the first member of my immediate and extended family to earn a university degree. Kelly Zee, B.Sc.!
  2. …That degree took me twelve years to earn. That’s right. Fans of Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers were born the same year I started university.
  3. I have visited nearly 20 countries and lived in five.
  4. Learned how to scuba dive, even though I am afraid of fish. Learned to rock climb, even though I am afraid of heights. Learned to ski, even though I am afraid of yetis.snowy
  5. Went through a long application and interview process for a job with the United Nations. They didn’t receive funding for their next year of operation, though. So, no job.
  6. Camped on a beach in Thailand, for two weeks.
  7. Learned how to drive a golf ball. Still can’t putt very well, though.
  8. Became a tarantula and scorpion keeper.
  9. Always been a fashionista.midkaz
  10. Turns out I am pretty adept at understanding geology, parasitology and pharmacology. Math and astrophysics? Not so much.
  11. Learned how to speak French, Thai and Arabic…to varying levels of skill. Have yet to master English. (Its/it’s gets me every time)
  12. Started a fire with a single match. But only once.
  13. Proposed to my boyfriend. (He said yes!)
  14. Hosted a crazy party at my parent’s house. (Sorry mom and dad!)
  15. Swam with turtles in Hawaii.
  16. After 16 years of a bruised butt, ego and broken teeth, I quit figure skating at 19.
  17. Became, and stayed (so far!) a winning poker player.
  18. Have yet to join Facebook.
  19. Went on a three month long solo trip through Southeast Asia.
  20. Maintained a blog in some form or another for a decade.
  21. Saw a chevrotain, in the wild!
  22. Snuck into a New York City club while underage.
  23. Changed a flat tire by myself.
  24. Rode a cow…for about 10 seconds. He wasn’t happy with me.
  25. Got over my fear of cutting my hair and went short. khair
  26. I was into internet dating before it was cool.
  27. Gave the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral.
  28. I have still not seen The Godfather, or any of the James Bond films. (Is that an accomplishment, or a tragedy?)
  29. I still get excited every time I ride the elevator at the Journal up to the newsroom, where I work.
  30. I am a published writer. And not just in those poetry books advertised in National Enquirers.

I’m not sure what some things I want to do before I am 40 are, but I’ve been pretty happy with the other three decades of my life, so I’ll just let it run its course.

Picture 2


At my dad’s request, I am sipping something “really good” while I type this. El Tesoro Aniversario tequila, in my “Z” monogrammed glass.


Crafts etc and Food and General03 Dec 2009 11:27 pm

Be still my beating heart! A gift that combines three things I love: cooking, letterpress and tiny things.

A coworker saw this little book “Cooks, on Food, Eating and Cooking” at Notables and thought of me (so sweet!) so she gifted it to me. It’s a mini book, about 3 inches by 2 inches, letterpressed. Inside, quotes from chefs about the nature of food, cooking and eating. Perhaps a fun, whimsical gift for the food lover in your life?

cooks on food, eating and cooking letterpress



General and work (kinda)16 Nov 2009 06:12 pm

It’s not often I blog about work. I’m kind of shy about it, and I do not often do work tangible enough to share with people.

I have been busy this month trying on a new job for size: video editing. I’ve done some edits in the past, but this one was special. It was a bit long and complicated, and I was telling a story I did not know much about going into it. So I did what I do best: researched. I read about Afghanistan, the war there and Canadian soldiers.

Finally, over one and a half hours of footage was whittled down to 15 minutes, then again down to 9. It’s long, but I hope I have highlighted Warrant Officer William MacDonald’s story well, and tried to keep it moving. He’s an eloquent speaker and incredibly modest about his achievements. I’m proud of this video (It even features my voice in a cameo appearance!) and I feel more educated on the war in Afghanistan.

You can read more about W.O. MacDonald and his experiences in Afghanistan in Ryan Cormier’s story, here.

Additionally, as I do not feel the content often fits my own personal blog, I sometimes moonlight as a blogger for my colleague and friend Ben Gelinas’ blog, Button Mash. Last week I wrote about the best and worst hair in video games: Game character hair requires much Dippity Do

My favourite part was ‘shopping hair dos onto the characters. You’ll have to visit the blog to see them, though. 

Food: Edmonton and General and work (kinda)15 Oct 2009 06:10 pm

Reporters and editors watch the newsroom tvs intently as the balloon boy comes down. Well, as his balloon comes down, anyhow.


Then, my friend Ben and I went out for lunch. I just wanted tea, but he promised a delicious wrap. So we went to Wrapture in City Centre mall. Although the mall is less than five minutes walk away, I have not eaten at that food court in over a decade. Wrapture might convert me to eating there again.

Wrapture started in Calgary, and offers wraps, smoothies, soups and healthier fast food. I jokingly called it a Chipotle knock off. Their typefaces, logo, branding, even their tinfoil wrapping and upsells (extra meat, chips and salsa) all remind me of Chipotle. The burrito I had (Baja Chicken) was pretty solid, if slightly under seasoned (odd for fast food!) I have to say I preferred it to Mucho Burrito.

Packed with rice, chicken, black beans, fresh salsa and cheese, at $7.95. Available in a bowl as well. Thanks for lunch, Ben.


On the way to Wrapture, we saw this mysterious birthday cake, perched on the side of a city garbage can. Ben took a photo with his Blackberry.


Naturally, all I could think of was throwing it to the ground, a la SNL’s and Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg.

i threw it on the ground
by noki86
General26 Sep 2009 11:46 pm

He took up residence in my room.

He’s pretty quiet, and not as hungry as I might have expected.

He keeps me warm, and pretty fashionable.

do the bearhat

Best find ever. $25 from the Thunderbird gift shop in Banff.

General06 Sep 2009 12:04 am

Many moons ago, when I was a young genetics scholar, I spent a lot of time counting, sexing, breeding (and killing) fruit flies. The labs were not the happiest of times all the time, but I can’t say that I minded the fruit flies. The smell of ether kind of got to me though. (I guess that’s why I’m a photo editor now, instead of a lab tech!)

A few weeks ago here at home, I had to wage war on fruit flies. Mike and I had been collecting some compost items in a bucket on our patio. Some hot weather and holes in the patio screen ended in a killer infestation of fruit flies inside the house. In fact, it was damn near embarrassing, and if this story did not have a happy ending I doubt I would be telling you about it now.

It was horrible. The flies were EVERYWHERE. The garbage in our condo and on the patio. They would swarm up when you walked past them congregating around the water cooler/sink drains.

I immediately removed all traces of garbage. Ripe fruit went in the fridge, I bleached the counter tops and engaged in open warfare. I knew getting rid of the garbage would help, but would not curb the breeding.

So what helped?

Simple. I trapped the buggers.

Although I am not against using pesticides (I know, I know, but years of living in tropical countries really made me believer in the power of roach sprays) I could not use them for fear of killing my pet tarantulas and scorpions. So I used a natural combination.

A shallow bowl filled with: a cup of warm water, splash of dish washing liquid and a quarter cup of cider vinegar. Cover with plastic wrap, pulled taut. Poke holes in the plastic with a fork tine, place. I made several traps, scattered near water in the kitchen and bathroom.

The next morning, the infestation was slowed, and I was happy. Another day later, the flies were gone, save for their corpses which were black dots at the bottom of bowls. I felt like a champion.

Kind of had to resist checking out the genetic characteristics of the preserved flies though. Old habits die harder than fruit flies, I guess.

Food and Food: Edmonton and General25 Aug 2009 03:03 pm

I walked to work today, partly to save bus fare and partly to enjoy the weather. The saving money idea didn’t get me far though, as Who Cares? was having a sale and I netted a pair of shoes for $50, and then got a hankering for sushi.

I stopped in to get some toro and other selections from Sankyu. I don’t care much for their bowls and popular bento boxes, but their toro is the best in downtown Edmonton. The chef commented that he didn’t normally see people getting six pieces of it, but I love tuna belly.

sankyu sushi

toro from sankyu

14 piece mixed sushi with 4 piece of toro, $20.42.

Additionally, I saw that Healthfare has put up a sign in the window of the old Adecco building at 102 Street and Jasper Avenue. Fun fact; just before I worked at the newspaper, I interviewed for a job in the cash office at the new H&M store. Their temporary office was at Adecco. That seems so long ago!

healthfare downtown edmonton

I look forward to trying Healthfare sometime soon. Their healthy “diet friendly” line up has been piquing the interest of Edmontonians for months. I think the downtown location will be very popular if the lines at the Sunterra salad bar are any indication.

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