Archive for May, 2009

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a dress

May 27, 2009

I’m getting the sewing bug again!

Instead of cleaning up my stash like I should be I bought more silk dupioni (on a really good sale) the other day.  I love the colours and textures but was afraid to actually sew anything with it.  I wasn’t so keen on pattern drafting/garment sewing classes while I was taking them but now I’m happily surprised by the amount of useful thing I learned.

05 dress

New Look 6375 doesn’t call for a lining but I know how much nicer it is to wear a lined skirt and figure the same will apply to a dress.  The bodice for this pattern is self faced but before cutting the silk I decided to make a muslin using the lining fabric.  It’s a bit more work but it’s so much nicer to have something that fits well and I have a closet full of shirts that are too short.  (Before I actually cut the lining I added a bit more flare to the front piece – which required an adjustment to the “waist” positioning so that the whole section could be cut on the fold).

If I succeed in finishing this dress it will be the first one I’ve made for myself from start to finish.  I tried one in high school but was half way through it before my sister took over because I was so sick of it.  Then there’s the self drafted one from my class.  The styles we worked with were anything but flattering and so I have a 3/4 done straight skirt, non-fitted dress shirt and what would be a really comfy double knit wool dress if I could get over how frumpy it looks and actually finish it.

Except for high school grad and some formals in university I never wore a dress.  Right now I have two!  I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the peacock coloured knit one but I’m ready to return to the more natural colours so I’m hoping this burgundy wine coloured one fits the bill.  I never would have looked for a colour like that but as I went through the browns, rusts, and mustard colours this one caught my eye and it seemed to look best.  Now the challenge is to finish it in time for a wedding we’re going to in June!

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cookies!

May 24, 2009

For years muffins were my favourite thing to bake, then cakes took over for a short while and now I’m onto cookies, with the occasional cracker or cake stop.

I wasn’t planning to stop on cookies for too long but I keep finding one good recipe after another!  When visits to the city were rare I stumbled upon an energy packed cookie I could eat at Planet O: the cosmic power cookie.  They were a great treat but they got to be expensive when I started working close to the store.  When I came across the recipe online I started making them on my own and even devised a gluten free version for Kevin.  Mmm..mmm… good.  And everyone we’ve ever served them to raves about them as well.

More recently we’ve discovered Dreena Burton’s homestyle chocolate chip cookies.  They are simply amazing!

05 cookies

I’ve had Vive le Vegan, the cookbook this recipe comes from since one of our first trips to Kevin’s family’s property on the coast.  This book is so suited to our diets and is full of vegan goodness.  Until last week I was always able to resist the sweetest of the sweet stuff in this book but that changed when I decided to reward my good bone density score with Dreena’s latest book – Eat, Drink and be Vegan.

This new book features a fool proof gluten free version of the same chocolate chip cookies.  Since we’ve taken to baking in parallel we found our respective recipes and were pleasantly surprised with the results.  So much so that we made 3 batches each in the window of a week.  Yes, they’re that good!  We also had help devouring these cookies on our trip to Saskatchewan last week.

05 cookies cooked

So what makes these cookies so darned good?  I think the key is in the ingredients – rather than copious amounts of refined sugar both recipes call for maple syrup, molasses and a wee bit of sugar.  The resulting texture and flavour rock.  A bit crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and sweet without being t00 sweet.  I added way more molasses than is called for the first time and quite like the result too.

One of the big reasons we like Dreena’s baking recipes is that they call for oil rather than margarine.  Kevin usually uses coconut oil as a substitute but it doesn’t always work so well and can be expensive – just like with my margarine.  The use of oil also makes them easy to replicate when we’re visiting friends or family who don’t stock our usual ingredients.

So… what started as a discussion on cookies turned into a report on why Dreena Burton’s recipes rock.  I’m so looking forward to trying more recipes in her new book because the 4 we’ve tried already have rocked!

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sewing!

May 23, 2009

Textile arts are still one of my interests, just not one I’ve made much time for lately.  Before vacation I finally made some progress towards two fine kitchen adornments for a deserving friend and sister.

After months of evaluating what to make, and then what fabric to use, and then where to find the time I finally made this hot pad for Krista in thanks for the copy of Peaceful Living she sent me.  I really didn’t know how to say thanks but since there have been a few comments about the ones I made for Annie on her blog I thought it was worth a shot.  I’m definitely enjoying the book and that it is intended to be read in small amounts over a long period of time.

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On the occasion of my sister’s 30th birthday I wanted to do something a little different.  Continuing on the “hand made or second hand” theme we devised for Christmas, I found a coffee press on freecycle and then fashioned a “warmer” for it.  And of course there is coffee – straight from Hana, Maui – that went with it too.  It was a little late getting to her  but we were each out of town on our special days.

05 sewing coffee

Last night I started on some sewing for me, but more about that later.

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mini houses

May 21, 2009

I wrote this back in February but it’s as relevant as ever today so here goes!

As mentioned a few months ago I’m in love with the idea of building our own house.  A little, energy wise, mold free and animal free house.  I especially like the idea of less  cleaning and more time for the important things in life.  A big part of that is saving money – spending less money on a house and less money to keep it warm and dry which then means spending less time at work perpetuating the whole cycle.

We could start building a trailer model right now if we wanted to but with all the hobbies we enjoy and all of our toys…. it doesn’t seem like the smartest idea.  That, and we’d have to rent a truck to drive it to our next destination.  The portability really is the best part but for short term stays we have the ecamper already.  For the lengths of time we tend to visit places it’s probably better to have the camper anyways.  We want to live close to amenities and I’m not sure we could stay under the radar of the local bylaw officer for long in a house on a trailer.

If someone wants to start building neighbourhoods with them and common buildings for laundry, hosting dinner parties, etc. in a place we want to live, it would be a different story.  For now though, I think I’ll continue to dream about cheap infill land and something akin to the B-53.

We’re not at the point where we could build our little house and live mortgage free but we’re working on it.  A lot of it really depends on where we wind up a few months from now.  I’ve been watching for land in the places we like and checking with local bylaws to see what we could do.  It turns out it might not be that hard to get a variance on the minimum principle residence size and if we plan things correctly we might be able to get two on a lot.  We don’t want to have renters but if we do things correctly it would help with resale because another owner could build their monster (ugh) house and rent the wee one out.

I’m just dreaming… rambling… dreaming.

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i <3 cbc

May 13, 2009

After years of pleading with my mom to turn off the talk radio you can imagine the surprise when my mom called to ask about *something* her friends had heard on the radio.

At the time I was living on the Queen Charlotte’s where the only other radio choice was available in the next town over.  I’d been a regular listener to the audio books show when driving home from construction sites at my job the year before but that was it.  Country radio (yikes!) was my first preference back then.

One day when I was working in the office I heard a story that touched me quite deeply and I felt compelled to respond.  My letter was read on air (first surprise) and then I started hearing from my mom about her friends that had heard my submission.

I guess you could say that hearing that story solidified my interest in CBC radio.  Back then I don’t think there were many of us in our mid-20’s who were keen on Radio 1.

When Kevin and I met I was back listening to country and we had completely different opinions of what was “music”.  We turned to CKUA and CBC and CBC has stuck.  Our list of favourite musicians that we both like is longer now too.:)

I’ve been listening to the concert on demand tunes for one of our favourite artists for most of the week and I’m so grateful for this great service from CBC Radio 2 and the folks on “the in crowd” for introducing me to T. Nile.  (“The in crowd” gives their best entertainment choices for the weekend every Thursday night on Radioactive, the afternoon show for our local CBC Radio 1.)

I didn’t get to see the show the “in crowd” was plugging (it was already sold out) but lucky for me she was back a few months later for Folk Fest.  Her CD has been in our folk music rotation for nearly a year now and in lest than a month her new album, an EP will be released.  Woohoo!

I way overplayed her first CD so its been nice to hear a more acoustic version of my favourite song and a few new ones as well – including the cabin song that mentions welsh cakes, faeries and berries.

Enjoy the music and have a great weekend!

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dem bones

May 11, 2009

Knowing that my bones are bad but not quite knowing how bad they are now had me full of anxiety this past week.

Since shortly after my first wrist fracture 11 or 12 years ago I’ve known that my bones are bad.  For the first few years I went for bone scans every two years as a precautionary measure.  My densities kept going down but medications weren’t deemed necessary since I wanted to have kids and hadn’t crossed the line (and wasn’t expected to until well after 30).

Four years ago at age 27 I had the nastiest break yet (and hopefully ever).  What had previously been a gradual decline in my bone health had suddenly changed and instead of wondering when I would wind up with osteoporosis I had it.

I have a tendency to forget about my bone health (well, apart from taking supplements every day, trying to eat healthy and staying active) except at this time of year when I go for what has become an annual DEXA scan.

The first osteo revealing one was by far the hardest on me emotionally but this one was coming close.  We’ve been talking about starting a family for a while but I want to take one last kick at school first.  My anxiety about how bad this test would be was making me wonder if I was pushing my luck.  I’ve met other women on-line who have found out they have osteo after having their baby but I have no idea if they were in worse shape before hand or not.  Regardless their experiences have sounded awful – usually involving very painful and debilitating compression fractures of the spine.  Add to that, the fact that I hadn’t seen a specialist in a few years because of our move and unsuccessful attempts at taking fosamax…  I was super anxious.

Well, today I went to see my regular doctor and I got exactly the opposite news of what I was expecting.  I’m by no means in the clear but I’ve pretty much made back the bone that I lost from 2007-2008 which was a significant amount.  There have been tears of joy pouring out of me all afternoon.

So why all this improvement after years?  Well, I know it’s not related to physical activity since I was way more active in the years preceding that last break than I have been the past 5 months.  My diet hasn’t changed much either.  I think the biggest thing is that I sought help.  A year and half ago, concerned about mysterious allergic reactions and my shaky emotional state I decided to give naturopathic medicine another try (I’d had both good and bad experiences in the past and moving around made progress difficult).

With my naturopath’s help I’ve been able to reconnect with my inner self, get my “system” running better with the help of supplements and get out of this hole I was stuck in for a few years.  At last there is hope that I might kick this disease!!!  Yeah!!!  Now I just wish I’d gone to a naturopath sooner.

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score!

May 9, 2009

I’m loving the weather we’re getting now!  Kevin and I went for a ride the other night (after the Canucks let the other team score in OT) and yesterday I went for another one at lunch.  I was on the home stretch when I spied a garage sale sign.

I don’t usually poke my nose in too far since all the sales around here are for kids clothes and disney books but there was a lot of stuff and I had time so I got off my bike and took a look.  It wasn’t more than 30 seconds before I scored this bargain:

05 scoreA chalkboard, still in the packaging for less than I could buy a can of chalk board paint.

Learning how to draw on the chalk board is essential for the Waldorf grades teacher so I’ve been itching to try my hand at it for a while now.  I had picked up brightly coloured chalk in my last order of Waldorf supplies but I hadn’t done much more than thinking about buying or making a board.  I  didn’t want to add more “stuff” to our house or spend more money so I did nothing.  This little board fit the bill.

One of my friends from work had another baby on Sunday – is May 3 a crazy popular day or what?!  Anyways, she does EC and is the complete opposite of a materialist.  Her and her dh purchased minimal supplies for their first and same this time around.  I know from before that she wanted more shirts – not onezies and I found a set of 6 white ones for 25 cents.  I figured that was too good of a deal to pass up and since M and I are doing some fabric painting and dyeing tomorrow the shirts came home with me.

I love it when the choice to go hand made or second hand is so easy and I can’t wait to show you the results!

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jamming

May 7, 2009

05 jamWhen I was wee, my grandma would come up for a few days to help my mom with canning when there were good deals on okanagan fruits at the market or we had a bumper crop of berries or beans.  I have fond memories of them working together and the whistling of the pressure cooker.  It’s been at least a decade, probably more like two, since they canned together and my mom’s “pantry” above the steps in my parents’ garage is sadly full of empty jars now.

I have yet to learn how to do real canning, but since going out on my own I’ve been able to keep the freezer jam tradition alive.  Jam for me is always strawberry, which is strange considering that I never cared for strawberries as a kid but always loved strawberry jam.  Similarly, I found that jam ruined the flavour of my favourite berry – the raspberry!  (I was so lucky to have a grandpa with a green thumb and a love for rasp’s too.)

In keeping with the example my ma and grandma set I’m not overly keen on grocery store strawberries, instead preferring to grow my own or go to a u-pick.  It’s too early to find ripe berries (or even flowers) at this time of year but thanks to some bargain prices, a good number of store bought berries have found their way into our house recently.

The other night, Kevin chopped up about 8 cups of strawberries so that I could make jam.  I had one package of pectin and so the next morning I set to work making jam before breakfast.  I’d forgotten to smash the berries up before and my attempts to fix that after adding the sugar were futile so it’s become one heck of a chunky batch.

Since I only had enough pectin for one batch of pectin the rest of the berries went in the freezer for “safe keeping”.  I was at the health food store last night and the only pectin they had was Pamona’s.  At 2-3x the price of the stuff I was used too I’d never bothered to read the details on the package before.  I’m grateful that it was the only convenient choice because I now know that it makes 3-4x as much and doesn’t require copious amounts of sugar.  Plus it has calcium, something I desperately need more of!

This morning I prepared batch #2 of jam and I must say I’m impressed.  It took a little more work since a blender is pretty much a necessity for mixing the pectin in hot water.  I was having a hard time crushing my berries and blending them with my nearly solid honey so the blender was good and dirty before I was done.  I had worried that blending the previously frozen berries would result in a runny jam but the result was quite the opposite.  I added nearly 2 Tbsp of calcium water (what the Pamona pectin uses to set) and was shocked to find a very solid jam had formed almost instantly at room temperature.  With all that blending I now have an easily spreading jam too!

Jam made with honey doesn’t taste the same as I’m used to but I like the added hint of honey.  Next time I’ll probably play with half sugar/half honey, but I’m so happy to have the option of less sugar.  Kevin likes it too since he’s nearly always doing something akin to a candida diet.

This was fun.  The challenge now is to make the jam last until strawberry picking season…

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priorities

May 5, 2009

Wow, I’ve become quite the inactive blogger lately!  I hardly noticed how quickly the time had passed until I looked at the date of my last post.  Oops.  And I still have some Maui info to get to.  Today though I wanted to write a bit about what I’m focusing on these days – making time for the things that are important for me.  The net result has been less time on the computer but with the recent arrival of spring I hardly think it’s a bad thing!

Triathlon Training. For a few months now I’ve been dedicated to getting out for my triathlon training sessions (except when injury and work out of town have gotten in the way).  My biking and swimming are progressing well but running is a different story… I haven’t done one since right before I hurt my knees and I’m a little frightened of trying now since my knees still get ouchy when I walk for very long.  There’s no way I want to give up on this important piece to regaining my physical health so for the forseable future,  Tuesday and Thursday evenings will continue to be training.  I’m hoping to add some weekend rides outside too!

Getting Adequate Sleep. I don’t know why this is so darned hard to do!  I used to go to bed early and get up early but that seems like so long ago.  One thing that has really has helped is “putting my computer to bed” at 9pm.  It’s been a hard one to stick to but I feel so much better today after going to bed at 9:30 last night!

Preparing Healthy Food.  The last two days have been exceptions where we’ve eaten at other peoples houses but generally we’re taking more time to plan healthy meals, reduce the need for trips to the store and making our own nibblies.  This hasn’t been as big of a change as I thought it would be and I’m so much happier eating my own crackers and tortillas like in my starving student days.

I’m also planting another veggie garden and at lunch today I figured out what is going where.  Now to get some more compost and plant those seeds!

Learning More about Waldorf. I’ve been helping with a playgroup on the weekends since February and in March I started a distance course on the spiritual science of things.  I’m loving that I’m constantly learning but I’m still struggling to make time for all the readings I know I should be doing.   I’ve also started painting or drawing once per week.  My time in the classroom is making me feel more confident about the decision I need to make about school next year and the anthroposophy studies are helping me sweep out the cobwebs that collected during the 5+ years that I decided to stop paying attention to my gut.  Both are adding good doses of optimism for each day and the years ahead.

Maintaining Relationships. Sometimes life can seem so busy it’s hard to make time for getting together for friendship and shared interests.  This is the first thing I “dropped” when I started doing school things earlier this year but I’m making sure it’s a little higher up the pecking order now.  A good friend and her son came to visit this past weekend, K and I celebrated birthdays  with my sister yesterday and in 2 weeks we’re going to see my Sasquatch relatives.  And hopefully M and I will be able to get together this week or next for some crafting.  I find social interaction can really energize me so I need to make time for this… it helps me get some of the other things done too!  The healthy food and early to bed part are also working wonders for my relationship with Kevin;)

Finding Time for “Me”. This really overlaps with everything else but it also means making time for some of the things I love which I haven’t yet mentioned, especially textile crafts.  I’ve barely done any sewing in the past year but in this last month I’ve done two things, both which required binding.  I’m not sure why I would go for things like that since sew on binding is a pain in the arse!  Hiking and camping fit here too.

Getting organized.  With my sister-in-laws finally moving out on their own we’ve had the opportunity to downsize our collection of stuff a bit.  It’s always nice to be able to help others out with the stuff we don’t need and since we’re planning for a move and eventually a tiny house now seems like as good a time as ever to get rid of stuff we don’t need.  It’s been so nice to have such eager recepients and soon we’ll be making donations to the local Sally Ann and freecycle too.

So that in a nutshell is how I’m spending my time these days.   More and more of it is outside too.  Yay!