Archive for June, 2009


tri training

June 29, 2009

Last week I did my first triathlon!  Nothing official but a good way to finish off the training program I was in  and it was so nice to get a gauge for what a real race is like without forking over nearly $100.  It was a good deal shorter than a real sprint triathlon (we did 750m swim/12 km bike / 3km run instead of 750/20/5).

I walked nearly the entire last leg since I haven’t trained for it at all and the swim took me by surprise.  I swam it rather than kicking like I do in most of our workouts and I had no idea how hard it would be to get out of the pool.  I was caught completely off guard by the wobbles and diziness and my transition was painfully slow.  It was a good bike ride (I used my mountain bike with slicks and it was still so much slower than my dahon would have been).  The “run” that I walked was okay.  I always missed our running sessions by being at play group and with my knee injury I never quite had the motivation (or the time) to run.  Since I haven’t been able to find a cheap enough luggage bag I’ve opted to just pack my running gear so I can work on it while out east.   If I’m lucky I’ll find a pool and do a bit of swimming too.  If all goes well I’ll be in shape for a real sprint tri soon after I get home.  I can’t believe I’m going to be away for nearly 4 weeks!


sewing weekend

June 28, 2009

I didn’t finish the dress in time to wear it to the wedding so it’s shelved now.  I probably could have worn it had I not used white thread to baste it together.  I could have finished it this weekend but I’m sure I’d have to re-fit it when the opportunity to wear it arises.  That’s not fun at the best of times and concealed matching thread would only make it harder.  Plus there are the pin holes that would undoubtedly show up really well if I needed to make it bigger.

With the dress project on hold and Saturday playgroups finished, my weekend was dedicated to packing (only 2 days until I leave!) and some quick wardrobe additions.  I want to travel lightly so that means everything I’m packing needs to be able to be worn together.  The skirt that would fit the coordinating requirement isn’t comfortable enough to wear more than a few times per summer so this morning I set about making a replacement.  I was inspired to make something in a butterscotch colour with an elastic waste, similar to something I made a few years ago but that never really fit right.  I couldn’t find anything in the right colour but having a quick and easy pattern (Simplicity 7229) almost made me forget.  Yes, I’m all about the instantly gratifying type of sewing!

silk shirt and new skirtMy skirt is based on a popular pattern I found on  It is supposed to have a draw string waist but I don’t much care for the look of ties dangling out below my shirts so I sewed elastic to the inside of the waist band ala yoga pants.  The overall style of the skirt isn’t overly flattering but it’s void of some of the common problems I have with skirts.  I wore it for most of the day just to be sure and it has definitely passed the test.

Earlier on in the weekend I made a new shirt from laundered dupioni silk that had been in my stash for a long time.  I had grand plans for dress shirt when I bought the fabric but I’m really not a dress shirt kind of girl.  (I can’t be bothered to iron and it’s so hard to get a nice fit with my seemingly large shoulders.)

silk shirt

The shirt pattern I settled on (Simplicity 3835) was one that caught my eye two years ago when Amanda Soule posted it on her blog.  Actually the skirt is from there too but I didn’t realize that right away!


It was interesting sewing with laundered dupioni.  It’s not near as easy as working with the unlaundered variety but it’s so much softer and easier to care for.   If I were to have sewn with it and then washed it there would have been a LOT of shrinkage.  As it was I accidentally left the finished product in the drier for too long so it shrank even more than on the initial washing.  That meant going back and removing the elastic from the sleeves to make it comfy.  The hem also shrunk up a good deal but it’s still at a nice length.  Fortunately I’d left the seam allowance in the sides so I could loosen up the fit.  I’m definitely happy with the end results but I’ll save myself some trouble and keep silk in the drier for longer the next time I pre-wash it.

Kevin took the photos tonight and it was a good “project” for Kevin too.  This is the first time I’ve  really sewn since Kevin got his own camera so it was our  first “photo shoot”.  Apart from how shiny my shirt look I’m really happy with his results.

That’s it for my weekend update.  It’s going to be a crazy next couple of days trying to get ready.  Hopefully I’ll have a few chances to post while I’m out east.



June 26, 2009

DSCN2109In our childhood days we called it hula hooping but everything I read on-line seems to indicate the more respectful term is hooping.  Alrighty then!

As I mentioned in my last post I got a chance to try hooping when we were at NCF.  Last year a colleague had coerced me into trying at the city folk fest and to put it bluntly… I sucked at it.  I gave up in shame but had the idea of trying it again in the back of my head.

A few months ago Annie posted a how to but it took trying some other hoops at the fair this past weekend for me to get the courage to get my own.  After perusing some instructions on-line, Kevin and I went around to all the hardware stores looking for 3/4″ 160 psi pipe on Monday night but none of them stocked it and it was going to take 4 weeks to get any.  I decided to go with plan B – 75 psi pipe that is better suited to kiddy hoops.  With little people birthdays and a visit with my cousins coming up I figured I’d have enough uses for the pipe so went and bought a chunk.


The 50 ft length yielded 3 adult and 2 child sized ones (M posted some of her photos taken well before dusk too).  The adult ones are so light and wobbly that they’re a little hard to use but with 2 evenings of practice I’m finally getting the hang of it.  Finally!

When I return from my trip I’m definitely going to be making a better one in preparation for this years editions of the city folk fest.


solstice weekend

June 24, 2009

After work on Friday, Kevin and I made the trek a few hours north for our first camping trip of the year.  This was, without a doubt, the latest start to the camping season ever.  In one sense I’m ashamed but we’ve been enjoying life close to home and been involved in more things locally so it’s really not much of an issue.  I do miss the mountains but I’m glad we’ve had the chance to discover how much less stressful it can be to stay home and spend an evening in the backyard.

Back to solstice… this year we decided to celebrate it at the North Country Fair where a stage had just been revamped and a new playground constructed in memory of our friends’ son.  Unlike most of the bigger music festivals in Alberta this one has space for on-site camping so I was excited about spending a weekend in one place.

We weren’t really too sure what to expect at this festival but figured it would be a little more of a family focused gathering of earthy folks joining to celebrate of solstice with great music of course.  That element was definitely there but there were easily as many obscene young drunks.  Thankfully those folks were gone before the music really got going on Sunday.

I still can’t quite get over why people would pay $100 just to drink and yell at each other all weekend but there probably aren’t many things like the fair in that neck of the woods.   I just wish we could figure out a way to train them to be more respectful.

All in all though it was a good weekend with some great music including one of our new favourites Trevor Tchir.  I also got to play around with hula hoops a little bit.  Fun times!

06 NCF

Oh, and during the little rain storm on Saturday Kevin and I huddled up in the back of the E to play our own music.  I wish we had the option to do videos with sound on one of our camera so we could have documented the dijeridoo, djembe, jews harp and recorder.  If for some reason we’re still here next year we’ll definitely be going back!


holy busses

June 18, 2009

Except when I can take the Red Arrow, coach travel is certainly not my first choice for getting around the country.  It’s far lower on my list for the US but it was looking like the best way for me to get to my Waldorf intensive this summer.  Right now I’m debating which is more risky: staying overnight in a US train station or boarding the bus.  I’m thinking there might be more loose cannons on the bus than in the station.  And that’s not just because of a famous incident from last year.

This afternoon I went to the station, the .ca web, the .com web and spoke to 4 individuals on the phone.  The crazy part is that I still can’t get a ticket and got the world’s craziest run around ever for a company that’s supposed to be wanting my money!

First I couldn’t buy a ticket at  the station because it was for a US destination.  Then I couldn’t buy it on-line from the .ca site for who the heck knows what reason.  Then of course,despite numerous explanations that it would work, I couldn’t get a ticket on the .com site.    For my set of destinations the phone isn’t an option either.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who does cross-border travel but it sure doesn’t feel like it today.

After today’s dealings with the infamous bus company I’m pretty sure I need to take a closer look at the train option.  Anybody have advice for how to survive the night in a BIG city train station?



June 15, 2009


We’re not authentic slackliners by any degree but boy did we ever have fun yesterday!  We have friends from all over that have been documenting their slacklining adventures for us for quite a while and yesterday I tried it for the first time.

Kevin tried it with his sister and her friends and last week he picked up his own gear.  We were going to go find our own spot in the park but decided we had better check the rigging at home first.  We had a less than desirable set up but it was good for a first try.  I couldn’t seem to get anywhere without a shoulder to lean on so there are no photos of moi but Kevin’s are pretty cool.


Our neighbours on both sides were out enjoying the fabulous sunshine but didn’t want to try it out themselves.  I’m positive they think we’re crazy now!

Slacklining is a zany game to play but it’s so much fun and the equipment barely takes any room.   I’m pretty sure we’ll be keeping it and scouting out suitable trees when we eventually start looking to build our own wee house.


nineteen days

June 12, 2009

… well now it’s only 18 days until I leave for my summer Waldorf intensive.   Yesterday a kindred spirit shared her countdown – she’s going to California for her training – and we both leave on the same day.  Nineteen is my favourite number  and I hadn’t even realized my departure was getting that close.

I like adventure, especially when it comes in the form of budget-wise, multi-modal, multi-destination travel.  As a result I’ll get a few days with my extended family out east, two airplane rides, a bus ride and a train ride.  If I can find a good and cheap luggage bag I’ll also take my foldy bike and use it and my feet to get around at my destination.  Have you seen my bike?  It’s so cool!


Another reason for excitement is that the decision of where to go finally came to me yesterday.  Unless something goes utterly wrong between now and then I’ll be off to Ontario in the fall!

I’m running out of time so I really must get to work on that dress.  Have a great weekend!


sourdough bread

June 9, 2009


Yeast doesn’t agree with me.  Nor does wheat.  For the past decade and a half I’ve been relying on spelt and kamut levain breads and “pseudo” breads made by others.  When I was in university my mom and I each experimented with growing our own sourdough starter.  Our first batches always seemed okay but we never felt like we knew for sure.

In the years since I “finished” school, I’ve made a couple of attempts to get my own starter going  but I still always worried that something was not quite right.  Well this week I tried another method where you feed the starter every day and I’ve finally got some results to be proud of.  It really helped to have better descriptions of good vs. bad.


With my first batch I was rather impatient so it was slow to get a froth going and even slower to get my dough rise – I baked it at the end of the day, 35 hours after I added flour to the original starter.  The other batch of starter seemed to reach its ideal state that afternoon so I got another loaf started that night.  It bubbled up over night and was ready to be baked by lunch time – about 14 hours later.  It was a good tasting one too!


I’m not sure if I’ll become a regular bread baker or not but it’s nice to know that I can make a sourdough that works.  It was easily the lightest loaf of spelt sourdough bread I’ve ever laid my hands on and it tasted so good with that strawberry jam I made last month.  Mmmmm…  I might just have to make some more.


how much house

June 7, 2009

For some reason, assessing what possessions need to go has been far more difficult for me than figuring out the reasonable amount of space we need to live happily.  Well, except for the kitchen anyways!

Our current house is just over 1500 sq ft on the three developed levels and of those we really only use two.  Further still, it’s really only the kitchen, dining room, bedroom and bathroom we use.  Oh, and the little sub 20 sq ft computer alcove in the family room.  The “sewing” room may as well be a closet because I use the dining room all the time anyways.

Many months ago I made a long lost list of the dimensions of the rooms we use.  Then I went one step further and looked at how much space we actually needed to be comfortable in those rooms.  We could add so much storage and still only need a single level of our house.  No wonder this house seems big, it’s huge!  Even if we added a family member we would still have too much.

This exercise, that started as a way to illustrate that we could handle a Tumbleweed B-53 has shown it might even be a little on the big side!

I was still a little worried about the kitchen and how much space the given layout would have so I went and used the Ikea kitchen planning tool.  I got a little carried away and came up with this makeshift sketch of the main floor.

06 house sketch

The kitchen: I did so many tweaks of this space since it’s the A-1 most important room in the house for me.  I like light, a connection to the main living spaces, and a minimum of corner counters (but no galley or walk through please).

I’ve been in a few show homes that have the window in the space that  would otherwise be wall between  the counter and top cupboards and I love it, so I added that.  There’s still a big window higher up at the sink – not that you can see that.  To the right of it the counter goes a little ways and then the idea is to have the wall which is the back of the coat closet.  The apartment sized fridge would be in its own enclosure beside the closet, with the door facing the stove.  My sister has a similar set up in the best bachelor apartment I’ve ever seen and it works fantastically!

The bathroom The plans for this house actually include a dining booth in this space and as much as I like that idea it’s really hard to lay out and cut fabric using that kind of set up.  Moving the bathroom here frees up space for laundry which is a big plus.

Second entry While I really like the look of the main door at the front I know enough to know that I need a place to put shoes and jackets right at the door.   This new side location seems to work well, at least in theory.

Dining area I like, perhaps even love built in benches.  They provide storage, can be personalized with relative ease and since I’d probably make it myself, I would know exactly what it was made of.   No chemical flame retardants for me thank you very much!

I’m thinking that the bench would be a good place to store my sewing machine and could put the reigns on my fabric collection too.  Of course if we’re to have a wee one, then I’ll probably have to restrict my collection even more!

Having the bench on one side also means that it’s easy to add chairs or even a table, to fit more people.

Living area I suspect the main living area will be the area around the built in sofa but it’s always nice to have a bit of an away space – thus the un-labelled bookshelf and chair near the door.

I’m not quite sure how to go about designing the sofa so it can go double duty as a bed, but that would be the goal.  With bookshelves along the outside we would be able to fit our current resource library and some other goodies.  Since books aren’t that deep we could have an access under the cushions to store board games and the like.

I still need to tweak the staircase layout as the recommended one makes me too nervous of falling and breaking more bones.  Regardless, there should be room to wire in the “control station” under the stairs.  We mostly view things on our computers now but there’s always the possibility of a projector sort of thing image on the wall if we really want to go there.

Other I ‘m not sure what the space requirements are for a hot water tank and the plumbing to eliminate the first plug of cold water, but I’m hoping that would fit under the stairs on the bathroom side.  In the tallest space under the stairs I was thinking we could house a smaller deep freeze (a necessity with our diets) and then have more storage above it.

So that’s it for the main floor and apart from the stairwell I don’t see a need to tweek the upstairs!


junk diet

June 5, 2009

Our house is big… which means when we’re not careful we acquire a bunch of junk.  To get an idea of just how much I cart around imagine these two scenarios…

1.  Moving into my first place (that wasn’t res) after university, my folks and my youngest sister met me in my new location.  The three of them and all my belongings fit in their van.

I lived in the new location for just shy of a year and added a couch, kitchen, a sewing machine (and the resulting fabric stash) and what must have been a lot of clothes.  I had finished school with 3 pairs of pants, a few shorts, and enough shirts, socks and underwear to be able to put laundry off for 3 weeks at a time.  I can’t even recall what clothes I acquired but it was obvious there were a lot of them and other miscellaneous items because I could barely fit all of it in or on the van and in my car with room for my dad and I to drive home in.  I even had to leave some things behind.  There’s no way a couch was responsible for all the space on its own, that’s for sure!

2.  Moving to Alberta I didn’t even have enough stuff to fill half of a small moving truck.  I moved with another person who hadn’t spent any time packing efficiently so she easily consumed the rest of the space.  Nonetheless, when I got into my apartment it was full.  I didn’t add that much to my collection in the next year but when I bought my first town house I was amazed that there wasn’t much room for new stuff their either. Yes!

Well in the years since, Kevin and I have combined households and moved into a bigger house where we now find ourselves with a lot of stuff.  Kevin’s sisters provided us with an excellent opportunity to get rid of some duplicates and because we use one of the closets upstairs for hiking gear, clothes have been leaving the house too.   We would love to get rid of more furniture but we’re afraid of leaving the house looking empty when it’s time to sell.  Never mind that we have 4 tables in the house and only enough chairs for one of them.  (Except for the kitchen table the rest are for sewing, computing or stacking up junk).

While the excess furniture takes up the most room, our dreams of living in a tiny house have got me worried when it comes to the kitchen.  Most of what we have is nice and it’s well used.  We’ve got more than enough dishes for a full load in the washer but my pottery collection isn’t helping.  We’ve also acquired a number of mixing bowls of late but now that we have them we find we use them too!  We have managed to get rid of some pots and appliances but if we want to live in sub 1000 sq ft we’ve got some work to go.

So lets see.  In the next few months we’ll be getting rid of:

– a leather living room set

– a gigantic tv

– a table, or two, or three

– a coffee table

– old heavy and stinky end tables

– a few lamps

– books (I can only stand to read all but reference books more than once so I should have taken care of this long ago.  They’re almost all second hand anyways)

– bookshelves

– clothes

– pie plates

– pasta machine

– glasses

– mugs

– bowls

– empty plant pots

– snow removal equipment

And I’m sure the list will continue to grow. I’m trying to think of it in hiking terms.  Things have to be multi-purpose or well used, essential single purpose items.  Oh, and they have to be used often enough too!