Friday, September 5, 2014

Project 50: Yoga pants re-groovenated - second chance pants

This is the first pair of yoga pants I ever made over 10 years ago. They have shrunk and faded and only get worn when the laundry has not been done. This past spring at the Lilac festival I saw these pants that I like. I've been thinking of making a similar pair ever since. I have worked on these on and off for a few months, mostly off.

Finally done, here are some pants selfies - not as easy as you might think. I used my serger to sew an overlock stitch in parallel lines along the length of the leg. Then I threaded a hemp yarn through the line of stitching and gathered the bottom of the leg. I decided to trim off a couple of inches from the bottom and made a ruffle to add to the bottom of the leg. I'm wearing them today!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Project 49: A coffee cozy from a stash of granny squares made from odds and ends of yarn

For the last part of our trip, we stayed with my in-laws at the farmhouse where my husband grew up in the Laurentian mountains, south of Mont Tremblant. There were lots of projects that my whole family got involved in. My husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law did a major repair to a huge old barn. My daughter baked lots of bread and desserts. My son learned how to use a wood lathe and made a bowl. He was so taken with it that he and my husband bought a $100 used lathe a couple days after returning home. Those were just a few of the things that kept us happily busy for the last part of July.

Here is one of the projects that I did on a rainy day. My step-mother-in-law, Meg, had been given a stash of yarn that had belonged to her mother. In the boxes was a collection of crocheted granny squares. Her mother had made about 40 of these to use up odd bits of yarn but had no project in particular in mind for them.
a bread bag full of granny squares
coffee pot cozy with bright red squares

cozy on an insulated French press coffee pot

more subdued colours of the second cozy

 opening for handle of the coffee pot

I had garden envy after seeing gardens belonging to my mom, Dan and Meg. Everything was easily two to four times larger than anything I had ever grown in Calgary. The difference was in part the skill of the gardeners, the soil and compost, longer growing season and the hot humid weather. It was not unusual to awake to mist and fog in the mornings. That just doesn't happen in Calgary - land of the dry heat.

Raised bed gardens with garlic, parsley and greens

We had some beautiful salads and vegetables. The Swiss Chard and kale was as large as store bought but much more tender. Also ready to eat were peas, snow peas, lots of lettuce, spinach, radish, carrots, herbs, onions, lots of raspberries and even a few blueberries. One lunch featured kale two ways, stir-fried and in a salad! My kids were not as enthusiastic. One day I prepared a bunch of lamb's quarters (weed) that I pulled up. I cooked it like spinach. There is no need to eat the lamb's quarters when the swiss chard grows the way it does, but it did taste good. I was inspired to do so by friend Swati, who told me that it is commonly eaten as a vegetable in India. I have also heard that advice to eat the lamb's quarters from Calgary gardeners. Lately, I have let the plant grow when I see it. I wonder if I can get enough to cook and eat.

snow peas, swiss chard, and perpetual spinach

Back at home, my garden was kept alive by Mary and Marj. It was a hot dry July in Calgary and if they hadn't watered, I would have returned to crispy brown plants. We arrived past midnight with an overnight temperature of 25°C. I was stunned by the exuberant growth of the plants. They grow a lot in 3 weeks time. The U of Saskatchewan cherry bushes were happy. I have Carmine Jewel and Crimson Passion cherry bushes. This is the first year that they have produced more than a handful of cherries. The raspberries were just enormous. My garden envy was replaced by astonishment and gratitude.

Carmine Jewel cherries - almost ripe

I picked them a bit early and made a sour cherry sauce for waffles. 

giant raspberries

I've been picking a tray full of berries every couple of days.

Self-seeded bachelor buttons that have taken over my vegetable garden. I have been cleaning things up and even have a few beans starting to grow.

I took 8 pounds of unripe apples off of the September Ruby apple tree because the branches looked overloaded. I pruned mini apples earlier in the year, but clearly not enough. The Zestar apple tree did not produce as many fruit to begin with and the size of the fruit on that tree was about 3 or 4 times larger than on the other tree. That would be my last observation of "less is more". Be more severe in the spring when pruning apples. One apple per cluster is enough.

I made some apple and date chutney (loosely following this recipe), some pectin and an apple cake using the apple sauce left over from making pectin and I froze some apple slices to use in cooking and baking. To keep the apples from turning brown before freezing, I used a trick that a friend's grandmother used - dipping them in salt water. I think it helped.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Less is more - Part 3: Less sleep = more giggles

Stuff that is not funny becomes funny when tired. So unless you are tired or otherwise impaired while reading this, it is likely that this could be a very unfunny post. While away from home, my sleep has been variable with a few late nights thrown in.

One night as I was going to bed after a family BBQ I recalled this exchange between two cousins.
J has a plate full of meat.
H - Would you like some rice or salad?
J - No thanks, I'm cleansing my body.
H - With meat?
J - No, I'm cleansing my body of carbs.

At the time I may have laughed, but as I was lying down to go to bed I just cracked up. Casey was already in bed half asleep when suddenly the sofa bed started to shake. I had a bad case of the giggles and I was trying hard not to make any noise. All I could say was, "It's not funny. " More giggles and then I was just barely able to repeat the dialogue that had come to mind amid giggles and silent laughter. After a few minutes I calmed down. I thought of it again in the morning and had the giggles again. A few days later I tried to tell someone about it and could not get the words out without erupting into another fit of giggles. I know, it's not funny.

Two more potentially unfunny things met with unusually hearty laughter, but this time led by my mom. Here are two riddles told by my daughter.

Q-What's green and has wheels?

A-Grass, I was just kidding about the wheels. 


Q-What's blue and smells like red paint?

A- Blue paint. 

Maybe you smiled, groaned or thought, "I guess you had to be there."

Feel free to leave your favourite groaners below.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Less is More - Part 2: camping

We got away for a short camping trip last week. Camping is very much a less-is-more pursuit. How perfect to have your day be filled with cooking and eating meals, hiking, eating some more, swimming in a mountain lake, cooking and eating some more, making fires, reading, chess, frisbee, and for me a little yoga under the trees. We have been enjoying some summer heat and the cold lake waters, being in the forest, finding some snow in the mountains and time together as a family, mostly working well together and playing.

our home away from home in Moyie Lake Provincial Park, BC

our neighbour

just hanging out
view from my yoga mat

hiking in Fernie

summer snowball fight

from the top of Tamarack Trail from Island Lake Lodge in Fernie, BC
Whether camping, or travelling near or far, I hope you have a chance to enjoy all that comes with travel. A time when all our stuff is pared down, our focus simpler (sometimes) and joy, presence and re-groovenation abound!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Less is More - Part 1: Less = fewer textbooks, more = space

While on holiday in July, I'll be posting smaller pieces on the theme of "less is more". Here is one task finally accomplished. What to do with those old textbooks?

It seems that textbooks are very seldom wanted. They are refused by libraries, used book stores and used book sales. I once found a place that would take them in the states. One professional organizer told me of a textbook burning party she hosted where her husband's textbooks which had been stored for over 20 years were "given back to the universe."

Or you can recycle them. The city of Calgary recommends removing the covers and putting the pages into the blue cart. Only when we did this, our cart wasn't emptied. I think we may have gone over the weight limit. We'll try again, adding fewer books to our cart.

I have to thank Casey for actually carrying out the book recycling.  He did ask me to double check my pile of books. I only saved one.

Casey also made a few hundred squares of paper for Origami using a band saw. He also folded a frog.

I hope you have a chance this summer to put 'less is more' into practice.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Songs that have found me and lodged themselves deep within

Have there been songs that just make you cry? Although not the only criteria which applies, this is what I base my music purchases on. Some songs come randomly while driving around, I hear these songs on CBC that talk directly to my heart and I'm tearing up. It's what I needed to hear at that moment. Often it is the one and only time that I hear that song on the radio. Many songs move me during a live performance. I heard the choir and soloist from the Dr. E. P. Scarlett high school at the Jack Singer Concert Hall this spring and was tearing up at their rendition of Lorde's Royals. Recently at a workshop in May, Kate Potter sang her own song into my heart. I'm glad I was present for that because that one is not available for download to my ipod. A few have come during a yoga class. Thanks Tamara for Nina Simone - Feeling good - lifting us in a warrior flow and the five minute down dog with Ray LaMontagne - Be here now - indeed... and so many others. Those two do not make me cry, but others have. Other songs are deliberately shared. Depending on the day and situation, these songs still make me cry. Many of these songs find their way onto my ipod eventually.

Just a short list...

  • Thanks Lori for this one... "Brave" by Sara Bareilles on Mothers Day, driving home from Kate's workshop - and then I became uncorked. This song marks a moment in time for me. Important conversations followed, trips were planned, a little baggage was dropped. I was supported and supported friends and I feel just a bit braver. I started to write a lot, some of it landing here, some in inboxes, and on many notebooks pages. I guess I am a writer. My daughter also likes this song. She showed me the video a few days later.

  • After recovering from a mysterious never to be explained illness, in fact, as I leave the surgeon's office for the last time, and on my way to meet friends to practice teaching a full length yoga class for the first time, I hear this song. "Mystery" by Bruce Cockburn. I didn't know what the song was at the time because it was part of a recorded concert. I just remembered the line "Infinity always gives me vertigo and fills my heart with grace." Thanks to google, I found the song. It will always remind me of teacher training which was always held on a Friday, because of the line, "I was built on a Friday and you can't fix me, even so I've done okay"

  • Lately in an attempt  to encourage Kate to record her song already, I sent her this - Scare Away the Dark. But that just turned into binge watching passenger videos on youtube for the both of us and not enough sleep. How old am I? Kate has about a dozen new videos in the works for My Yoga Online including the elemental flows that we did at the workshop- Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. No guitar playing, no singing - you might hear a song at a workshop though.

  • Sleep was not in the cards that night. The same night, I was all wound up and energized from hooping with Lori at her epic first hoop goddess circle. With the resulting lack of sleep, I was tired and cranky the next day. I said to myself, 'You've got your crankypants on don't you?' Which brought to mind this song about pants and I changed my tune and became tired and silly instead and that night I slept like a smart person would do. If you sing this song, you cannot be cranky.  It made me consider the question "What are you wearing?"  I decided I did not need to wear crankypants. In fact the next day I made sure to wear the most uncranky, most happy pants I own (that I bought from Sam at Free Aphrodite). It also reminded me that I have a pair of pants to re-groovenate. Again, google came to the rescue. I only knew the first line of the song, "pants are for keeping you warm, that's what their designed to do".  I heard the pants song on CBC when this band was in Calgary and I didn't know who the band was. So the only song I knew by this great band was this song about pants that was written by a parent of toddlers. Poor northern hemisphere toddlers who have to wear clothes. Gratefully I learned that the band was the Wailin Jennys and I learned a few more of the songs by them, and they just happened to be one of Kate's favourite bands.

  • Just one more. Three versions of the Book of Love, not the who wrote the book of love, but another song. I remember hearing that the songwriter, Stephin Merritt, wrote the song sarcastically, but any covers I have heard have been sung sincerely. I like both.

Original by Magnetic Fields:

I just found this one, with Stephin Merritt on Ukulele.

A re-groovenated version - a different take. My favourite so far by Airborne Toxic, dedicated to his grandmother:

Lately, I've found some new music to listen to including Sarah MacLachlanSarah SleanAdam Cohen and Passenger. I want to get some Wailin Jennys. I don't like that I drive around a lot, but I am glad I can listen to music and podcasts during those times. And I am grateful that I can drive around.
(From Adam Cohen's video, Lori, this quote makes me think of you.)

At the first of a series of hoop goddess circles led by Lori Bothwell at LMP studio, I drew a goddess card - Aphrodite.
APHRODITE Inner Goddess "Awaken the goddess within you through dance, self-care, and appreciating your divinity."

 In my meditation she gave me a lantern to nurture and hold my inner fire. It's fun to play WWAD? What would Aphrodite do? I haven't lost my marbles, it's a playful way to consider your patterns and break out of a few. Like choosing the happy pants! Get your beauty rest! Dance and sing and appreciate your own inner light. Tiny steps toward re-groovenating your own self.

"fear is dark but my love is a lantern" - Passenger, from coins in a fountain.

So what are you listening to old or new?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Memorable Sandwiches in my life - and Why do sandwiches taste better when someone else makes them for you?

My kids are done school! No more early mornings, no more sandwich making - for them. I stopped making sandwiches long ago, but occasionally I will make a sandwich. My daughter says, "Your sandwiches taste better than mine, what do you do?" I think it is putting in enough crunch, a little more lettuce than you think would be good and enough spread in the form of butter or mayo. But the essential ingredient is love. That is one of the only rules I follow when cooking or eating. Was it cooked with love?

I woke up thinking about sandwiches and the fact that I remember some people by their sandwiches.
  • Open faced grilled cheese in the toaster oven with homemade corn relish. I don't make these anymore. No toaster oven, and no homemade corn relish. -Brad, who serenaded me, and like his sandwich, it was warm, cheesy, slightly corny and sweet, also sincere and got the job done
  • Toast with cucumber with  mayo salt and pepper - another from Brad - a young love, a serenade, two sandwiches, over like breakfast
  • Butter and potato chips on white bread - Tracy, an English friend described these to me. She said she stopped making these after the looks she got from other teachers in the staff room. I had to try it.
  • Peanut butter and grape jelly on 'French bread' - Casey, before we got married, ate an unusual number of these.
  • Toast with almond butter and grape tomatoes - Lori *my current fave
  • Pita with onions, just the right amount of balsamic vinegar, mayo, lettuce and maybe tomato. Plus a slice of grilled eggplant if available. - Casey and the crazy house of quirky engineering and various other students and partners. I have to admit to crashing here for a few weeks when on practicum for teachers college. The house was beside the corner store with the "window of weight gain samosa". The huge samosas came in brown paper bags that would become oil soaked and translucent, hence the name.
  • Peanut butter and jam - my son Ben eats at least one daily- runs in the family
  • Peanut butter and balsamic vinegar - Ben. I have yet to try this one. I really should after all, I have made him drink a vegetable juice to cure hay fever (kohlrabi, apple, carrot, parsley)- recipe from Swati. I liked it, but he has hated kohlrabi ever since and never ever complains of hay fever symptoms.
  • Peanut butter and bananas on toast - mom
  • Peanut butter with alfalfa sprouts - Mr Dressup
  • All natural peanut butter with a layer of white sugar in the middle - Jackie who I ate lunch with in grade 7
I don't eat a lot of sandwiches. I do love Smoked meat Pete's and a cherry cola. I love that there were once driving directions on their website from the Toronto airport. They are located just a five hour drive away from YYZ, just outside of Montreal. I don't bother trying to have a smoked meat sandwich elsewhere.

I found a cookbook in the library featuring a selection of artwork from the They Draw & Cook website. I was struck by this recipe for a Chocolate and Cheese sandwich. I make one every couple of months for breakfast. I just may have to try the rhubarb strawberry cake recipe.

tomato on almond butter

That was my breakfast. What did you have for breakfast?
What's your favourite sandwich?