Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Canadian Wedding in Scotland

Be careful what you joke about. I joked about moving to Australia, and ended up living there for 15 months, and then I joked about how we could elope to Gretna Green and ended up planning a Scottish wedding.

Now, having done Australian Partnership Visa paperwork and having a bureaucratic day job, I felt very well equipped to answer all the ridiculous questions that were required to actually get married in a foreign country, but for those of you out there who might be contemplating something similar, here is the 2016 breakdown of what you are signing yourself up for.

Gretna Green will totally set-up your event. This is the easy part.  has all the venue and food and info you need and the staff is excellent and happy to discuss options, lay out the price for you and notify the registrar of your date and time. There is some minimal info for overseas couples, but because the UK laws got messier last year, they mostly just send you to the government websites. You will then need to do the following things:

Fill out the M-10s for each of you, which is the Marriage Notices for the Scottish Registrars. These need (now stay with me, this is about to get nested and messy) to be sent in NO MORE than 3 months before your wedding day and NO LESS than 29 days before the wedding and require the following:

  • Notarized Birth certificates
  • Certificate of no impediment to marriage
    • This doesn't exist in Canada, so you are instead going to have to go and get A Statement in lieu of a Certificate for no impediment to marriage. This is going to involve a request for authentication EXT 2165 Form which will ALSO need notarized birth certificates. This request will take 25 BUSINESS DAYS to process, even if you are in Ottawa and can show up at the office and wave paperwork at them.
  • Declaration of Immigration Status: yes, even Canadians, who are used to waltzing through the London immigration turnstills by flashing our Commonwealth passports need to declare that we have a fiance visa. Which means that prior to this, you need to go and get...
    • a UK Marriage Visitor Visa This can also only be applied for 3 months prior to the wedding or less, so you are basically submitting it while also on the clock for submitting your Registrar stuff. FUN! This is the big one, with the ridiculous questions, although the online system is genuinely functional (HUZZAH! FIST PUMP!) and lets you do it on the internet. You will need:
      • 200 US dollars (or equivalent. *weeps about exchange rate.*)
      • A UK passport size photo
      • Tons of answers about how much the wedding is costing, who is paying for it, who is paying for the trip, do you make money, are you in a real relationship, blah blah blah blah blah BLAH blah. If you haven't done immigration paperwork before and don't have three years of forms to cannibalize for information and documents you want to leave some time for locating details.
      • A biometrics (fingerprints) meeting which can only be done in certain Canadian cities so CHECK AVAILABILITY and which you need to book as soon as you submit your forms so I recommend submitting your stuff shortly before the three months and then picking a date that is available right at the beginning of that countdown. You can also 100% (I had to do this) accidentally go a week before the 3 month countdown because you freaked out and thought that maybe they meant no MORE than 3 months and then modify the date on your form because the visa is good for six months and they aren't too fussed about it starting exactly on the day of your flight to the UK.
      • Supporting documents, like tax slips, payslips, itinerary, wedding venue bookings, bank account statements, the paperwork I had showing that "Booya, I already passed Australian immigration I am in such a real relationship shuttup", and also a list of every country you've visited in the past 10 years, although they only really want like 10 items before they tell you thanks that's enough. Also make sure you check which countries are Commonwealth and which aren't because there are some surprises on that list. 
      • Then be prepared for them to take your passport and mail it to New York where they process the visa. But mine was fast and lovely and took like a week, so really I stressed out more than necessary. They want to take your money and have you get married, but they will make you jump through a lot of hoops to prove you aren't committing fraud. 
    • Another UK size photo, thank goodness they come in sets of two from when you needed one for the visa.
  • The registrar fee, and I have NO IDEA yet how to send pounds to a registrar from my Canadian bank, I will let you know when I figure it out. 
And then repeat for the second person! Which luckily my fiance actually has a UK citizenship in his back pocket, so he just needs the simple M10 form. HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND. 

So yeah, doable and from all reports I don't need to do much extra paperwork when I get back to Canada for them to recognize the marriage but sweet googly be prepared for the form tornado (Formnado). The Gretna Green website makes it look MUCH easier than it is.

That said, the registrar office is LOVELY. Go to their website and you can see the ceremony breakdown and if you need to call them they will be incredibly helpful and tell you that yes, you do need to show them your ORIGINAL passport and birth certificates, but that you can send your fiance on the day of the wedding to their office to do that. Verdict: Forms are evil, people are rad. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Kitchen Fails: Garlic Press, I Curse You

So that Jamie Oliver cookbook I won has some pretty intense opinions about the types of things I should have in my kitchen. Admittedly, he is trying to give 15 minute recipes and is super up-front about the fact that if you don't have all the gadgets you will not be able to do it in that amount of time. Still, I think that requiring an immersion blender, a regular blender AND a food processor is a bit much. I'm still super pleased that I have a blender at all, but I got that mainly for smoothies (mmmm, smoothies).

But! I do in fact have a garlic press. I even managed to find a nice heavy metal one at a garage or estate sale or some such. And garlic always takes forever to peel and chop, so hey, just putting it into the garlic press with the skin on sounds sort of amazing. I'm game. Let's do that time saving thing!

Now, I'd had mixed results with the garlic press before, but I hadn't left the skin on, and maybe I hadn't committed to it properly? Surely it can't have gone as poorly as I remember it going. Time saving! Do this thing! Yay!

Did you know that garlic juice burns? I do now. And I don't mean in the frying pan. I don't know if it is me, the press, or some type of horrible cosmic cooking justice, but I sent garlic juice flying EVERYWHERE, and every drop that splashed onto my arms was like a tiny horrible acid burn (which makes sense, I bet garlic juice is acidic. Probably what makes them so delicious! mmm.). My hands were slippery, the press was fighting me, and there was horrible acidic garlic debris all up my arms. And I still had four cloves to go. And since you are supposed to just press the garlic right into the pan, the garlic needed to be added NOW and I didn't have time to stop and just chop it. Also my partner was "helpfully" mentioning that the garlic that had made it into the pan was beginning to burn in the more traditional cooking disaster sense.

Garlic Press, I curse you. I am also pretty sure this is the second time I have attacked myself with this garlic press. Which means if I don't get rid of it I will, in a couple of months, give it another go. I can tell you now, it probably won't go any better.

But you can totally leave the skin on when pressing the cloves. That was cool.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Kitchen Fails: No seriously, vinegars, whyyyy? or What's with all the vinegars part two

I like white wine.

But even I sometimes have half a cup or so of leftover white wine in the fridge which has maybe been lurking in the fridge long enough that I am not super keen on drinking it. It will maybe have gone a bit sharp.

No big problem, I thought. I know that people add white wine to vegetables or something. I know that I have glared at recipes that want white wine in them, but only like half a cup, and I hadn't been planning on opening a bottle that evening and I was annoyed about it making a demand that would require a whole bottle commitment when it only wants a little. This is great! I can add this wine to those recipes and I won't even be angry at the ingredient list! Perfect!

Plus I had some new Jamie Oliver cookbooks which I had won in a draw and this seemed right up his alley. So I opened the index.

The index was initially a bit of a disappointment. It did not have a list of all the recipes that had white wine demands. I am regularly disappointed by indexes, especially in cookbooks. But! It did have a WHOLE PAGE devoted to leftover wine. AMAZING. Maybe this page will tell me when and what I can add white wine to for flavour just because I feel like it.

No. No, this page does not tell you useful information like "just add it to those vegetables you are frying, it will be fine" (which is, by the way, usually true it turns out).

This page tells me that, despite ALL THE MANY TYPES OF VINEGAR I ALREADY HAVE, I should be making my own with leftover wine.


The worse part? THE WORST PART? I now totally want to make my own vinegar.


That wine is still in my fridge.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Kitchen Fails: What's with all the Vinegars?

So I decided to make some salad dressing the other night.

I always thought I hated salad, but I have slowly come to realize that I hate Kraft Italian Dressing and that the salads my friends made with actual homemade salad dressings were lovely, so I've started making my own. Most of the time it is just balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil with some salt and pepper, and maybe honey if I am feeling fancy. Sometimes I add garlic.  But I was feeling chipper and thought, AHA, I will see what other salad dressing recipes are out there on the internet and perhaps make a different dressing for tonight.

Guys, I hate food blogs. I hate them SO MUCH. They give me rage outs. So I am looking for a salad dressing recipe, feeling pretty good about the fact that I have been making my own salad dressings for a couple of years and have a well stocked kitchen and should be able to do it.

And does the internet give me a nice alternative and simple recipe to make?


No it does not.

No, it tells me that the vinegars I have are unacceptable and that I need to go out and buy YET ANOTHER TYPE OF VINEGAR.

For the record, I already have four types of vinegar in my house:
Rice wine vinegar
White vinegar
Apple cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar

This seemed to me an already excessive number of vinegars. I was already cranky about the recipes with their super specific vinegar needs. But nooo, evidently I need Red Wine Vinegar too. No, I said, no, I don't want more vinegars. So I clicked on the next link.

What did it want?

Champagne vinegar.

No seriously,  I didn't even know that EXISTED and here the food blog recipe thing is just all ... and so you just get your champagne vinegar out of the cupboard and make salad dressing. Nothing for the vinegars I already had. What do people just have ENTIRE SHELVES in their houses of types of vinegar? WHEN WILL THE MADNESS END?

I have so far refused to buy these extra types of vinegar. I made my old recipe instead. Screw you internet.

grumble grumble Champagne Vinegar grumble.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

So I continue to be super pleased by the Steampunk world. I did the organizing for a few steampunk picnics in Ottawa this summer, and by about the third month realized I was bored with all my usual outfits. So I decided to base an outfit around a pair of suspenders and ended up THRILLED with my Steampunk version of Clockwork Orange meets the Teddy Girls (the-forgotten-1950s-girl-gang). I called it my Spider Girl. 

Just goes to prove that Parasol Duelling isn't just for ladies. 

Also it is always amazing to work with brilliant photographers. Thank you JJWENZEL!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Craft Pledge 2013

With the completion of 2013 and the New Year's Party gift delivery success, my Craft Pledge 2013 is now finished and I get to post photos!

The faceybooks inspired Craft Pledge 2013 with the following post:

2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward!

The first five people to comment on this status will receive a surprise something from me, in the year ahead. It could be anything - a card, a print, a book, a photo, an invitation for a tasty cocoa... The catch? Those five people must make the same offer in their status. Three, two, one... Go

So I did. Here are the packaged fruits of my labour. 

I sent my Australian craft pledges first, because I knew I would be seeing the Americans at New Year's (Canadian friends, I do not know why, but none of you volunteered for Craft Pledge 2013). 

My plan for Craft Pledge 2013 was that for every craft I would learn/relearn a skill. So for Victor, I learnt to do colour swaping in crochet to design a cellphone holder in Horde Colours.

I found an ENORMOUS horde cross-stitch pattern, mucked about with it and came up with this. I even mocked up a tiny cardboard cellphone in the correct size so that it would fit. I super love how it looks, but I neglected to teach myself how to keep the insides from being a huge mass of yarn ends, so hopefully Victor has found some use for it. 

Tallulah saw my attempts at embroidery for the first time this decade. I now regret not doing a more exciting pattern, but at the time I was just pleased to have found a fabric that took embroidery thread well. 

With the Australian deliveries sent and received, I settled into the rest of the pledges. 

I did acrylic painting for Clara. The tiny incense cones have been called poo by one person already, but I'm still reasonably pleased with how this new medium turned out. 

I did a crochet rose for Christina, which was my first time working in crochet 3D. I really enjoy this pattern and have made SEVERAL of these suckers with odds and ends from other projects:

The project that took the longest was this video game themed scarf. I found the symbol from Sid Meier's Alpha Centari, which has been Siard's chat icon for YEARS. I then had to design the pattern on graft paper, learn to do proper colour swapping so that it would look good from the front AND the back and then play with a BILLION different balls of yarn because what the hell crochet, you basically are the WORST at making diagonal lines. Plus scarves are actually really big!

Cheryl received an oriental ink brushwork triptych of birds and trees, but I COMPLETELY forgot to take photos of them before delivering them.

The Craft Pledge actually took me all year to complete, so I'm not planning on doing a 2014 version, but since I just learnt to knit, I can guarantee there will be more crafts in my future.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Kitchen Fails: What happened to my pies?

So I'm usually pretty good at pies. They're one of the things that my dad makes, so I've taken part in lots of pie endeavours, and I usually keep them pretty simple. I make the dough recipe that's on the Tenderflake box because it is awesome and super simple (if you're in the states and can't find any Tenderflake, then I don't know what to tell you because none of the pie crust recipes seem to work without that lovely pastry lard. Australia, your pastry lard is kept with the butter) .

Anyway, usually my pies go easy peasy awesome (we've even been recreating Australian Meat Pies here at Home Base Canada, but that's another story). But the other day I got some Saskatoon berries and some currants and decided that I would just make pies with those and that it would be fine.

Guys, it was not actually fine.

First off, I somehow screwed up the dough. This was pretty much just the situation of me making the dough too dry and then FOR SOME REASON refusing to add more water, even though I knew it was too dry. Being stubborn is usually one of my strengths, but sometimes it means I refuse to add more water to dough that I know needs it. So yes, there was that to start, which meant that the dough was already giving me a bit of a headache.

Now, I figured that currants were not going to be the same as blueberries or raspberries, which is what I usually work with. So I looked them up on the internet. I knew they weren't as sweet, so I wanted to make sure I didn't screw it up.

The internet recipe said to cover the berries with sugar before plopping them into the pastry shells, so that's what I did. Usually I just pour the sugar over the berries once I've measured them into the pastrified pie pan, but whatever. This was a new recipe and I didn't want my pies to be too tart.

Then I topped off the pies and popped them into the oven.

Then I cleaned my bowls. And realized that ALL OF MY SUGAR had stuck to the sides of my white bowl, because the berries had been freshly cleaned and all damp. Yep, all of that sugar, not in the pies.

And yes, if you were wondering, currants are WAY tarter than blueberries. All I can say is, thank god for ice cream.