ADHD, Asperger's, Autism, and Medications

The tide was out the other day, and the clouds were just coming in...

So, my research has taken me elsewhere, lately. As always, adoption and fostering is a big thing on my heart, so my exploratory mind has been pulling me along again. :-)

This time I've been delving into foster care, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, ADHD, Autism, Aspergers, PPD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified), the Autism Spectrum in general, medications for said disorders, the credibility of the research on said disorders, mental institutions, and how that all relates to our medical system. Keep in mind as you read, that I have only done preliminary research, and most of what I'm saying here is just a conglamoration of thoughts and may not be entirely based on fact. ;-)


So here we go... After watching a video on ADD/ADHD and the medications for said disorder, sometime last year, I am not entirely convinced that ADD/ADHD is indeed real, or at least that it is nearly as widespread as they say. Basically, the diagnosis items are personality traits, albeit things that can be frustrating for someone who's brain doesn't work that way. Then again, in a much, much bigger way, autism is the same. You see, I think that if I'd been in the school system, I would have been labeled as ADHD.

I sometimes have a hard time focusing, I often break things up into little chunks because after while I can't concentrate anymore, I've always struggled with sleeping (or the lack thereof) and going to bed late, I'm fidgity, I love running around, I talk a lot (when I am comfortable), I drive myself very hard, I'm perfectionistic, I try to answer before the question is done, and not because I am impatient, but just because my brain works that way and I think the question is already over. I am easily distracted and forgetful in daily activities, and not because I don't aim to be conscientious, or because I am lazy, but simply because I honestly do not notice things. Seriously, a towel will lie on the floor for days, and finally my Mum will pick it up and come to me and say "Why didn't you pick this up days ago?" And I will have no recollection of it being there. I'm fine with cluttered rooms, and then suddenly, I have to clean everything up.

It's what they list as ADHD, and maybe I wouldn't have been labeled as such, but the point is, I'm 'normal', I function 'normally', and all those things are just personality quirks, nothing more. Annoying quirks, but it's simply the way I was made. Not a disorder, or a syndrome or anything, simply a brain design. I can't change being that way. I can soften the edges so that people like be better and none of it causes me to actually emotionally hurt others or have bad manners, but it's normal. So to me, if I have those quirks, and I'm normal, then someone who may have something far more 'serious', like Asperger's or Autism is also normal, in a different, perhaps more intense kind of way. Now maybe in order for them to be able to function they are going to need medication, and therapy, and special attention that someone like me (or you, I know you have weird quirks, that may be different from mine, but equally annoying) doesn't need, but it's the same.

As an analogy, if you stub your toe, it hurts, but chances are that within 5 minutes it won't hurt anymore, and you will never think of that particular toe stubbing again. That's me and my random quirks. And then, you could get a paper cut, and that really hurts, and you might notice it for a couple days, or even need a bandaid. That's severe ADHD, if it really exists, someone who might actually need gentle medication once in a while. Then think of breaking your arm. With the stubbed toe and the paper cut, you could probably get away with just ignoring it, but unless you want your arm to first of hurt like all get out, and secondly be crooked and useless for the rest of your life, you really need to get it splinted and bandaged. It is vital. This is Autism and Asperger's. Most of them really need some medication.

Now, as you might know from just reading this blog, I'm all for keeping off the meds and going all natural, and if you can treat the autism with just a change in diet, fine, awesome, wonderful, but sometimes medication is going to be what enables a child to function, to think, to read, to learn, and I'm all for functioning, thinking, reading, and learning. If that's what works, by all means, please do it!

The thing is that these kids, and the adults they grow into, are the minds that actually drive our world forward, that create our future. When we compare the 'ADHD' mind or the 'Autistic' mind with a 'normal' mind, what we are doing is comparing apples and oranges. I think the people that are considered 'normal' by the stats are the business suit guys who just sit counting numbers all day. The rest of us are the quirky ones. I know my brain isn't normal! I'm an artist, a lifelong learner, and as un-normal as the rest of you (hopefully).

It is this quirky-brained girl that has been called to reach out to people on the Autism spectrum and beyond. I have no idea how yet, I just know I will.

For more information, please watch this fantastic video on Autism, which deals in depth with the topic of medications.


Subsequent parts coming soon:
- 'What IS the Autism spectrum?'
- 'Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and beyond'
- 'Foster Care in Canada'
- 'Adoption on my heart'


So it's been a while! I've just been really living this week. It's been wonderful. Yes, I've done plenty of practicing, especially on piano, and have been delving into the harmony like nuts, I went to flute lesson and trio and choir, worked 4 hours, taught for 2 and a quarter hours, but I also read two fabulous books, wrote incredible stuff that seemed to just flow from my fingertips, had lengthy discussions about fascinating subjects with strangers, read the Greek mythology I missed in 'grade 5', spent time with family, going for tea with my Mum, watched videos on homebirth, listened to music, ran in the sunshine, wrote letters, and just enjoyed being me.

Ha! How's that for a week? Actually, I had no kids this week at work, I just set up, watched swim lessons, read in my book, and worked on harmony. Ha! Everyone is sick! (Including me, I'm still trying to get rid of my congestion and wasn't able to go to voice yesterday either!) This is what my set up looks like...

It gets a little tiresome without the kids though. :-( Ah well. Today has been a sunshine-y week nonetheless. (Though weather-wise it's been cloudy most of the time)

So, I know that some of you know of the book by Lois Lowry called 'The Giver'. Incredible book, I read it last year. Deals with some HUGE topics in a very beautiful way, in an incredibly imaginative, yet fabulous story. Hard to describe, but totally, you have to read this book! So I got out two other books by Lois Lowry. The first one I read is called 'Gathering Blue', and is also a total must-read. What can I say? It's a fabulous, fabulous book. I have to say, though, both are rather odd. Suits me fine!!! Hahaaa! Then I read her book called 'The Messenger'. It is also good, and actually sort of ties in a few people and storylines from 'The Giver' and 'Gathering Blue', which is neat, and while it is also an important read, I found it almost too weird. The first half is fabulous, the second half is slightly laboured. Very strange, but very wonderful books, in any case!!! Easy reads, but somehow the subject matter is adult, because they deal with societal breakdown and the problems on each end of the spectrum, whether too perfect, or too horrid. Fascinating.

In any case, I thought I should pop in and make a post about something interesting for you all. Tomorrow I intend to go outdoors and stay there for a while, barring sleet and snow! :-)

Many hugs,
Sheila, the crazy girl on an island in the middle of the ocean.
 The first loaf from the Blue Dutch Oven is cooling!  Can't wait to get a knife to cut into it to see how it tastes.  Being a person with a bit of an obsessive nature, I have another loaf rising. This second one is the Whole Wheat recipe. I was interested to see how much more this recipe rose than my first tries.  Maybe it's the beer and vinegar -- who knows, but it sure smells good and looks pretty too.  I reorganized my  "batterie de cuisine" so that all my bread baking stuff is neatly in one place every time I want to make bread this way.   I found all sorts of useless things at the back of my kitchen cupboards which I happily discarded.  Feels good to have got at least one of my kitchen cupboards organized again.

I need to open my Rose challenge quilt map and start tracing the shapes in readiness for fusing fever.   I don't want to  sound too pushy about the C & T Publishing DVDs I produced, but I will be watching the one that stars Laura Wasilowski  titled "Laura Wasilowski Teaches you to Create Fused Art Quilts."   I need to remind myself of her nifty techniques for fusing. Especially her trick for transferring shapes to the fused fabric  without making yourself crazy turning stuff inside out and upside down... she calls it "shape shifting."

No cheese and no fake cheese (!) .. and ridiculous amounts of vitamin B12 !

Bread Baking Revisited

The new knob for my Dutch oven arrived today.  It's actually for Le Creuset pots and pans but happens to fit the Lodge brand too.  It's shiny  stainless steel but I liked how the blue lid reflected itself in the new knob which I ordered online from Chef Central. Cooks Illustrated obviously had a few questions about recommending a Dutch oven with a knob that couldn't withstand the 500 degree heat that's required for their Almost No Knead Bread Recipe.   (I liked the long video in this link)  I have a batch of dough doing its thing and will look forward to baking the stuff tomorrow. I shall really need to be paying attention when handling the hot hot lid of this beauty.  Certainly no multi-tasking for me during that step.

I've done my viewing homework of three episodes of "Lovejoy" back to back ... a marathon indeed.  This way I shall feel a bit more intelligent about the PBS pledge hosting tomorrow evening.   I enjoyed the colorful  characters in the series and oh! that English countryside.  Nowhere else quite like it in the whole world.  Thatched cottages, English villages, stately homes, people stomping about in green Wellies,  house barges on the River Thames, punts on the River Cam, pints of beer in picturesque pubs -- what a nice excursion to go on this morning. Armchair travel, to the max.

Rose Challenge is in a "holding-and-continuing-to-research" mode.  It's all good.  

It's Snowing

We're in for a pile of snow today. It sure is making a good start at it, it's been snowing all morning. Colin has to go to Renfrew for "Ag Day" so I hope it lets up some. I dislike when he has to travel in bad weather. At least if it's snowing it can't be too bitterly cold. A silver lining I guess :) Another good thing is I don't have to shovel any more like when I lived with Mom. If Colin isn't here, then his Dad comes over and runs around with the tractor blowing the snow.

Busy this week getting the house all cleaned up for the weekend. No, not because of SuperBowl -I am so lucky to have a husband who really doesn't care much for sports. Ella's birthday is on Sunday and Colin's sister's is on Friday. We're having the family up for supper on Saturday for a joint party. Should be fun.
Another scene of beauty from last year.

It's not too often that I share a diary entry with the world, as they are usually just too close to my heart, but for once I actually wrote my feelings down in my diary before writing them on my blog, and they need to be shared!

"Dearest Emily,

Today was a glorious, sun-filled day, with crisp air and a gentle breeze. I went down to the beach. The scene I beheld was o the utmost beauty and splendour, with the crashing waves, white-topped and glistening, and the bright blue sky. Around me the birds cried, and swooped down to rest on those crashing waves. The air, cold but pleasant, tickled my ears , and batted my hair as a kitten with a ball of yarn. How I wish you could have been there! The shadows danced on the pebbly shore, and my eyes feasted on the heavenly scene, unable to be torn away. I saw gren and hazel grasses, dried and withered, fading in the winter sun, and after that, smooth logs, washed by the ever-churning waters. Then stones of so very many shapes and colours, crackling beneath my feet. A small, clear-flowing rivulet finds its twisty way towards the ever-widening expanse of icy water, as if pulled my some fantastic, supernatural force like a child to its mother. The stones conitnue, and sand; and in a winding shoreline they meet the sea. Those crystal blue waters staring at me, calling my name, the tide drawing me forth like a distant lover. Then I see layers of green; island upond island, and mountains, blue and purple, in a misty haze, topped with pure, white snow, so far away, yet touchable. And here, upon the shores, the barren trees sway, and the tall green ones stand majestic, waiting for that unseen, soaring eagle to alight upon it. All this I saw, as I stood there in the sunlight, and he painted it all. ~Sheila C. --"

Interesting, isn't it? Actually, the 'he painted it all' is a double entendre, reffering to a painter who was actually there, painting this amazing scene, and also to the fact that HE, the Creator of all...painted it himself with a perfect brush.

Enjoy some beauty today.

Ten-thousand hugs in tiny sparkling bubbles,
Sheila Christine

A light dusting of snow outside greeted me this morning.  Our neighbors have a wonderful lighthouse lamp in their front yard which was glowing cheerily.  The rhododendron leaves received a leaf-ful of snow.  A nearby rooftop reminded me of my Bernina's wavy stitch!  

I enjoyed the Monday libary quilters gathering yesterday.  Two people demonstrated a nifty technique on how to do applique circles on the machine using either freezer paper or that Solvy Sticky stuff.  I'll have to try that method.  If I get a "recipe" I'll share it.  Pictures were taken and one gal was taking copious notes.

I also got my sketch and paste-up for the Rose Challenge quilt enlarged so now I have a full size "map" of the design to work from.  I also loaded up on 3 yards of Pellon Wonder Under so I'll be ready for some Fearless Fusing once my hand dyed fabrics from Laura arrive.  Lone Star Madness is on the back burner and this new design is getting me very excited. It just feels right. I love that feeling in the creative journey when you know you're on to something really good that's your own work.  Of course it will have been influenced and inspired by other work in different media, but it will feel like mine once I've done all I want to to the poor thing!  See, it's taken on a life of its own already... Yesssss!

I will be  co-hosting a Pledge Drive on our local PBS station on Friday evening, so need to get a DVD with the 3 episodes of "Lovejoy" to watch before then.  They're doing a "Lovejoy Marathon."   It will be on KTBC Channel 12 from 7 pm to 11 pm. But more importantly than doing that veiwing of episodes homework, I am in desperate need of a haircut before Friday.  I get quite tarted up for my TV appearances.  Well ... at least some makeup  including lipstick so I don't look like a tired old ghost!  "Call the number on the bottom of your screen" is mostly what I'll be saying as well as reminding folks how important it is to support their local PBS station!   Maybe I'll be interpreting some of the more obscure English terms phrases that I feel sure will be in those episodes. (On some of the British programs, it takes a while sometimes for my English ears to tune in to the accents and dialects these days!  That's what happens when you've lived away from the UK since 1965!)  I really do love PBS and its programming, so it's not so hard to try to persuade the viewers to support their viewing habit!  

Rosemary Baby Potatoes & Chickpea Cutlets w/ Onion Gravy

Potato recipe from Gourmet Vegetarian.
The cutlets are the ones made famous via the vegan blogging world, originally from Veganomicon (and worth every bit of their praise).

Revolutionary Road

I treated myself to an outing to the movies this afternoon to see Revolutionary Road.  Ms. Winslet and Mr. DiCaprio gave their all and no wonder their work in this film has been recognized in the awards shows this year.   I have an ambition to see as many of the Oscar-nominated films as I can before The Big Night.  I have a way to go with that ambition, but one down and a ton more to go! To me there's nothing to beat sitting in the movie theatre and watching a film on the big screen.  I often think that the makers of the film intended the film to be viewed this way, rather than on a TV set at home.  Mind you, I'm glad of the pay per view business to watch movies I might have missed when they first came out and often have been relieved to only pay $4 when the movie wasn't so entertaining!


Courtesy of my grandma !

Bubble Bath

What could be nicer than a long bubble bath with a nice magazine?  My copy of Quilting Arts arrived this afternoon and I read it from cover to cover in the bath.  I had visions of dropping the magazine in the bath, but managed to find the right position to both soak luxuriously and read. I was excited to see that three fantastic art quilters who I have hung out with had written articles: Jane Davila, Laura Wasilowski and Melody Crust.  

I worked on the design of my about to-be-fused Rose quilt and found myself needing to order a couple of pieces of Artfabrik hand dyed fabric and some delicious hand dyed threads as well. Sometimes I think I love the designing and imagining work best in the quiltmaking process.  I shall be returning to the Lone Star project until my hand dyed fabric and arrives from Ms. Laura.  I shall also need to remember to pick up a fresh batch of Wonder Under.

Waiting is not my strong suit, but wait I must, not only for the Luscious Fabric but also for the heat resistant Knob so I can try my new Dutch oven with the Almost No-Knead Bread Recipe.  


Sometimes emotions get the better of me. Sometimes I cry for a long, long time, just because I must. Sometimes I attempt to carry the weight of the whole world on my shoulders. Sometimes I let it slide away. I am stubborn, and crazy, and shy, and emotional. I take guilt from hidden corners, and tuck it away inside of me...just in case. But then, somehow, me peace.

Through all my self-inflicted emotional turmoil, through all my wrestling with the world and society at large, with all my conflict in thoughts, I have been given the only true blessing: Peace. I believe I must go and thank my Creator now.

Sheila Christine

Now I'm armed with a stack of research I did online this afternoon about the Scottish  architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  It seems many people have interpreted his art deco rose design in such things as stained glass panels, tiles, wall stencils, jewelry, hand-painted glassware, t-shirts as well as fabric and other home decorative arts.  I remember having seen several quilts using this particular rose as an inspiration.  So I shall be tracing and sketching to see if I can come up with a new design for the Rose poem challenge quilt, inspired by Mr. Mackintosh's style and aesthetic.   I'm determined to get something Scottish into this piece, as well as the love stuff.    

We have tot skating every Thursday at the arena in town. Daddy has been coming with us since we started in the New Year. I can't believe how quickly Ella is coming along. Soon she won't need Daddy's stand at all.

Momma was able to get some new (new to me) skates the other day. They are boys, but they fit my wider feet better. It's amazing how my feet have "grown" since Ella was born.

Auntie Belinda and Uncle Stefan gave Ella her fist computer. It's a Leap Frog "Click and Start" and she loves it. Daddy and Ella like to play after supper while Momma is washing dishes.

One final picture from grocery day. I don't know where she get's her "adorableness" from!

How many of you "lose" a day?  I did that this morning.  I was convinced it was Saturday and went to turn on my Saturday fix of quilting shows on my local PBS station  only to see the nice lady sitting on her chair demonstrating fitness exercises for the older set!  Silly me.  The sort of fitness I was looking for was quilting fitness a lot of which takes place in the sitting position. Surely working the knee lift of the Bernina counts for something in the exercise department. Inner thigh workout anyone?  

I am still obsessing about my Rose poem quilt challenge project.  Later today I shall be fondling all my hand dyed fabrics to see what emerges.  In my mind's eye I can see some lovely red in a piece of Artfabrik fabric in my stash.  My iron has definitely not had enough fusing fun lately. That would be Fearless Fusing a la famous Laura Wasilowski and the Chicago School of Fusing's etiquette guidelines.  Now to consult my large collection of quilting books to find some inspirations for a good rose design I can try to make my own!  I need a break from Lone Star madness.

Hooray for You Tube.  I was searching for more inspiration for this Red Red Rose project and hit upon Eddi Reader, a Scottish folk-inspired singer, performing the song "My love is like a red red rose". The lyrics are the poem I've been given by my Monday group to inspire a quilt.   I love this performance of this famous tune.  


Piecing Prattle.

It was time to stop messing about with the Rose Challenge project and plunge in.  I use this cheap-oh clothes drying horse to put strips on;  I used  meat trays (donated by our friendly neighborhood butcher) to put my Thai silk diamonds in.  This was a neat storage trick taught to me by Carol Doak when I produced her Paper Piecing video.  I pinned the eight diamonds onto some styrofoam wall board stuff that suffices for a design wall at the moment. Now I have to get some background fabric to set the star into.  I shall also have to buy more of the rose batik if there's any left, since I want to try my other idea as well as I'm not so sure about the darned plaid.  It really was good to check Jan Krentz's DVD for some little details she presents that streamline the piecing process.  Although I didn't use a pattern from her book, rather one from Jo Parrott's book, Jan's methods and piecing tricks worked great.  I started out so organized, but now my sewing corner looks like a bomb has hit it!  
I just wanted to clarify some things about my last post.

First off, I have never thought that ALL nurses or other health professionals were cold and hard-hearted. Never. Just some. And often it's the 'some' that influences the feeling of a place.

Second, I also believe that the hospital is an important, legitimate place!!! I am a certified lifeguard. I can, will, and want to send people to the hospital if necessary. I'm the one who called 911 for my Mum. It was my decision. No one else told me to, or not to. It's just that sometimes it is ill-used.

Third, I was born in a hospital. I may not like what went on, but I admit to being born in one. And also, I was in emergency once for myself. Because I knew I had to be. It wasn't fun. I hated the whole experience, short as it was, but I was there. So...yeah, I've been there. For me.

Fourth, I respect every person who has the will-power to work in places like hospitals. You are amazing, and I look up to you. Even the cold-hearted ones! You've worked hard, learned lots, and many of you show amazing poise in the direst moments.

Fifth, please, I hope that none of you got the impression from my 'release them into endless bliss' comment, that I agree with euthanasia. I DO NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With all my heart I hate it, the same way I hate abortion. I wish I could end it once and for all. Forever and ever and ever.

Sixth, guess what? I think there are some births that should be in a hospital. Yep, I do. Always have, in fact. I even think that there are occasions for induction! It's true. Absolutely, I believe in homebirth, and I believe I always will, but there are cases where it doesn't work. Just like there is the odd person that should go to an institution to be 'educated'. (although on that one I am beginning to waver) A high-risk birth should be monitored, and usually a Mum with Pre-eclampsia should probably be induced.

Usually. Probably. But not always. And the same goes for any other medical procedure. It is a case-by-case thing. Something you should know if you plan to continue reading this blog is that I talk big. When I feel something, I really feel it. Like really, really, FEEL it!!! Which means I use strong words, and express every emotion that is flowing through my being. It's not a slight against you, your profession, your upbringing, your schooling, your birth, your children, your beliefs, or anything else related to you, it is just and exaggerated statement of how I feel in that moment. Please understand that.

Thanks so much everybody!

Life In it's Circles

So here I am. I need to write something. It's kind of stuck inside of me, and I'm not sure how to find it. I just know it's in there somewhere, but as you've seen in the past, I usually manage to find it by the end of the post.

I'll start off by just telling you about life. First off, I got over my cold, and that was fabulous, but I seem to have relapsed, though everybody keeps telling me that their colds were two-part as well, so who knows what's going on. Now I feel crappy, my throat is sore, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to miss voice tomorrow. In spite of that, it has been a good day. I had my flute lesson, at the end of which I began to feel randomly dizzy-ish and sort of vaguely nauseous. Weird. Well, my eyes have been strange lately anyway, so maybe it's partly that and partly this cold relapse. Ah well.

After trio and some hot chocolate and a big cookie down the street, we went to pick up our neighbour from the hospital where she was visiting her husband. That place makes me angry. It's a prison for sick people the way schools are prisons for people between 5 and 18. It is horrid, bland, pallid, and just gives off this aura of death. What a place for inspiring life and wellness!

I felt my soul drop, my heart plummet, and my spirits dive into the depths. How can anyone be cheerful there? And no one seems to care about anyone else at all. It is SO frustrating, to be there and to not be able to do anything except smile. And I know people appreciate that, but it doesn't change anything, you know? I see tiny bald ladies with half their teeth missing, chattering quietly in some foreign tongue to their fat, bearded, haggard husband, and people who's skin is almost purple, desperately sucking away at the oxygen. I see nurses nonchalantely meandering down the hallway; smugly, like they have hardened their heart to every soul in the building. To them, it's just another body to stick some needles in. It's not a soul, a life, a creation that they are stabbing, it's just...a body. So what is it to them when one dies? Is it still just 'a body'? What gives it life, or breath, or song?

Some part of me wants to go and release each of those souls into some endless bliss and utter beauty, and I know that in one roundabout way, I suppose I can at least try, but they still sit there in agony. I long to reach out and give each one of those feeble-boned creatures in that hospital a sunny day to call their own. I long to give them youth and vibrance and love and joy, and all the things that we are supposed to have. It just makes me so mad that anyone could be so cold.

And then I read posts about how people cope with death, and how beautifully they have reconciled the loss of a life. How they manage to hold tight to their ideals of beauty, and keep death as a positive step in a journey, not an end to a cruel period of time. When in this life I must deal with death, as I know I will, I want it to be, a beautiful time--no matter how sorrowful, I still want it to be beautiful. It's funny, isn't it, how some people have no hope? Though their heart knows that eternal life is true, they can't believe it, or understand it, and somehow to them, when someone dies, life just ends? I can't understand that. Our God is much bigger than that. Surely we have a responsibility to open people eyes to that truth.

What am I trying to say? I don't know. I see no end, no light, no hope, like it is an eternal set of dominoes endlessly falling. I know we have a hope in our Saviour, but for the moment--this moment--it feels bleak. I am usually so intent on changing the world, making it a better place, doing my part, helping the individual, making peoples days bright, but right now, I feel stuck, I feel frustrated, and inhuman.

I just want something to change. Now.

I think I'm just going to have to run away. Sometimes I think that when you can't fix something, you have to just escape for a while. Maybe I'll build myself a cabin in the woods, and surround myself with a big vegetable garden and a dog that needs to go for walks, and make beautiful music for all the birds to hear.

Rainbow hugs,

My lovely Lodge brand enameled 6-qt Dutch oven arrived today. Isn't it pretty?  I think they called its color Caribbean Blue.  However, now I need to get a new knob for it.  An almost no-knead bread recipe I have discovered on the Cooks Illustrated website calls for the oven to be heated to 500 degrees. The knob on the new Dutch oven says it can't go above 400 degrees. Well, the Dutch oven didn't say anything at all, but the instructions mentioned this fact!  So I've had to send off for a stainless steel knob which can take it at any temperature!  Those scientists at Cooks Illustrated have tweaked the New York Times recipe a tad, so now I shall wait for the knew knob (!) before I launch into trying the revised recipe!   Good job I have some silicone oven mitts at the ready. 

The book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois also arrived in my free-shipping package from Amazon.  However, this neat book calls for baking the bread on a baking stone, and not in the Dutch oven.  The recipes looks simple enough in their book, so next time I'm in need of some retail therapy, I'll get a good baking stone to try as well. 

Now what to do with all that leftover chicken! First night we just reheat everything so it's like roast chicken but then what? Make this leftover dish.

Grease an 8 inch pyrex baking pan, or the size to suit your family.

In a bowl cut up chicken into bite sized pieces, you'll need enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Crumble in any dressing if you have it too. Pour in enough gravy to make it rather moist. Pour into prepared pan. Next layer in any leftover vegetables, or frozen. Then remash leftover potatoes with plenty of milk and butter. Spread this over the mixture in the pan.

Bake 350F for about 45 minutes. Add a salad and your done.

It's like shepherd's pie, but only better :)
Thought I'd share the delicious supper I made Sunday. It's Garlic Roast Chicken and is sooo yummy -if I do say so myself :)

Garlic Roast Chicken

Cut the top bit off a whole head of garlic and wrap in tin foil (drizzle a little oil). Bake at 425F for about an hour. I use my toaster oven so I don't have to use the big one. When done, squeeze out garlic cloves and mash into 1 cup butter or margarine. I sometimes double this recipe depending on the size of the chicken.

Wash and dry the chicken, taking out giblets if inside. Stuff bird with dressing if you want. Slather bird with garlic butter. Gently slide hand between skin and meat and put lots of butter in there. Tie up legs. Place breast side up on rack in roasting pan and put into a 325F oven. After about 20 minutes put enough water in to cover the bottom of the pan. This will help keep the drippings from burning. Baste the chicken every 30 minutes, if you have time.

A stuffed bird will take about 30 minutes per pound. An unstuffed bird is closer to 20 minutes per pound. One of the best investments you can make is to buy a meat thermometer. I have the digital kind; I stick the probe into the thigh or breast, put the bird in the oven, then sit back and wait for the beep. No need to try and guess if it's done.


1/4 cup butter 3 tbsp parsley1/2 tsp dried sage 2 eggs, lightly beaten1/2 cup milk 1 onion, chopped fine2 stalks celery, chopped fine (optional)1/2 loaf stale bread, cubed fairly smallsalt and pepper

Saute the onions and celery till soft. Remove from heat. Mix with all other ingredients, except milk and eggs. Then add milk and eggs to make a fairly moist dressing. May be cooked with bird or separately in a casserole.

After you get the chicken into the oven, put the following into a non-stick sauce pan:

any giblets left from the chicken, plus any extra pieces you may have (necks, wing tips, backs, etc). I actually buy these "junk" pieces at the store, the gravy is so good.Add in a coarsely chopped carrot, celery, onion and clove of garlic. Pour in 1/2 cup chicken stock (homemade works best and you'll need 4 cups total) and boil uncovered over medium high heat. You'll have to stir often. Keep stirring until stock is evaporated. Add another 1/2 cup and make sure to scrap up the bits from the bottom of the pan -that's where the flavour is. Do this 2 more times. Pour in remaining stock and simmer, covered, until chicken is done. When ready, stain gravy into another pot; bring to a boil. In a small bowl, dissolve 2 tbsp corn starch with a bit of water. Add to the gravy to thicken.

If you want to make easy chicken stock, just put the gravy leftovers that you just strained into a large crockpot along with all the chicken bits that are left over from carving. Add in enough water to cover and put the crockpot on low and let cook for a few hours. I usually put the stock into baggies, each holding 2 cups. Then I freeze them until needed.

To finish off supper I made some really good rolls. They are called Ranch Buns and are over at Rural Writings. Very easy in the bread machine.

Of course, supper was rounded out with vegetables and chocolate cake for dessert. I'll share that recipe another day.

Teaching Music

Teaching. I do it two days a week. Or more, depending on who's sick or forgets (it still boggles my mind that people can forget music lessons!) and has to re-schedule lessons. I love to teach!

I realized earlier that teaching is very much a part of my life, even if I do have a very tiny studio, but I've never blogged about it, unless I've totally lost my mind. :-) At the moment I have four students, and several people who are humming and hawing because "Darn, 20 minutes is so far to drive!". We'll see. In any case, it's bizarrely wonderful.

My teaching can look like this sometimes:

"Hey there buddy, how are you today?"
"Awesome, let me take your coat!"
"So, let's get that bench in a bit for you...yeah, right there. Perfect." *big grin* "So how was your day at school?"
"Really good! We got to draw helicopters!"
"Wow! Helicopters are pretty cool." :-D "So what do you want to work on first?"
"Uh...I dunno."
"Well, let's look at your book. How about 'The Parading Monkeys' [or insert some other insane name]?"
"Yeah! That one's easy!"
"Alright, let's hear it." :-)
*ding ding.....ding.....diiiiing.....ding ding ding........ding* "uh....oh yeah!" *diiiiing!*
"Great! The first bar was almost perfect!!!" *big eyes and grin*
"Yeah, but I only practiced it once, because my Nanna came over." *nods*
"Wow, that must have been fun, hey? Okay, let's look at this piece. :-) Let's get our crazy glue out and gluuuue those notes together, okay? We're going to take out aaaall the little gaps." :-D
"'kay. Can I draw the glue in?"
"Sure, how about I draw it in this time, with a green pencil?"
"So let's hear it with all that crazy glue in there, like this." *demonstrates*
*ding ding ding ding.......diiiiiiing.........

And it goes on. And that's just one kid. Each one is a completely different case, and calls for radically different approaches. Some kids are naturally weepy, some kids randomly scream throughout the lessons, just because it's 'fun'. Some kids won't say anything unless you ask them a very distinct questions, some kids talk non-stop. And of course, it changes from week to week, though you can usually see a general trend in each student. I guess in total over the last 3 years I've had 11 students. It's been insane, really. I started when I was 13, and really shouldn't have, but a friend's Mum asked me to teach her little ones piano and I naively said yes. Thinking back on some of the things I did then, I cringe. Ah well, it's a learning experience for me, too.

I love coming up with things on the spot that make things 'click' for kids. I love watching kids struggle through something, and working at it with them, and waiting a month or two, and finally seeing the penny drop. It can be the simplest thing, and all of a sudden, they just get it! It is so amazing.

I also know the moments of frustration on my part, where I see that the kid isn't getting it, and I want to help, but can't come up with the right thing. The moments where they are frustrated, and no matter how much you smile and encourage, they still end up with tears in their eyes. The moments when you glance at the clock and there are ten whole minutes left, and you honestly can't think of anything else to do. Or when your student reminds you of some promise you made to have x piece of music for them this week, and you realized you've forgotten. It's harsh. But the beauties outweigh the negatives, and for every trial, the positives come back threefold. With most kids, anyway.

The thing is, I love finding the perfect piece for a kid, searching through lists of flute books for just the right book for a particular student. I love chatting with the parents, and seeing them excited about their child's accomplishments. I love inspiring kids, seeing them start lessons frustrated, and a few months later, seeing them actually excited about music. It's a glorious feeling. Or when they tell you in the middle of a lesson that they've decided to learn a second instrument as well, or that they told off their choir 'friends' who were teasing them about playing piano. The joy of music is infectious, and it's amazing to see.



I re-messed with my Rose Challenge quilt ideas yesterday as you can see from the not-very-good pix I took of the diamond mockup in the double mirror.  I really wanted the plaid in there and used Jo Parrot's pattern called "Polaris Star" from her book.  It calls for one larger diamond surrounded by a few smaller ones in each diamond.  All done with the magic of strip piecing.  I'll be going to Jan Krentz's  Lone Star book and DVD for that part  

Since the poem is about love being like a Red Red rose, I want the rose to "read."  However, I am also intrigued by Robert Burns' Scottishness, so really want to get that in there as well.   I rearranged the green fabrics on the original idea which I think play better.  I am thinking of a cream tone on tone fabric for the setting squares.  I shall probably make both versions.   I never choose the setting square fabrics until the diamonds for the stars are done.  I take those diamonds to my stash or my local quilt shop and make the decision visually at that point.   

So.. the second loaf of no-knead bread turned out better than the first!  The crust and crumb looked just like the pictures in the instructions and videos.  And more importantly, the taste? Yum-oh!

I was up really early to get hooked into the Inauguration. What a tremendous occasion. I couldn't help thinking about all the folks behind the scenes who made the whole spectacle  happen.  From the TV folks, to the people moving one family out and the new family into the White House, to all the party preparations going on for all the galas this evening;  the hairdressers and makeup artists, the chefs, the security folks.  Talk about Organization!  Very impressive.  My British heritage fell away and there I was standing at my kitchen table with hand over my heart singing "O Say Can You See..." feeling proud and fortunate to be an American citizen today.  I always cringe a bit about the "bombs bursting in air" part, as those were  British bombs.  Yay for Aretha's version of "My Country 'tis of Thee."   That's sung to the same tune as "God Save the Queen" which makes me grin.  

More Snow

Jan. 09

It's been snowing since yesterday morning. At least the snow means it is much warmer. No more freezing skin warnings on the radio. Still didn't stop the barn cleaner from freezing again. Quiet day at church. Not too many come out when it's Morning Prayer, even fewer in bad weather.
Off to church

Ella likes playing with my hats. I think she looks adorable.
Ella's hat

Busy today weighing and priceing the frozen cuts of pork that came back from the butcher this morning. We sell the pork on the farm. It sure helps put groceries on the table, considering the current market price that the packers are paying.
I've been hooked into the no knead bread craze.  Melody posted some info and links and I had to follow her lead.   Now I'm in trouble with an order to Amazon for a 6 quart ceramic-lined cast iron Dutch oven and a book about this neat technique.  So my second batch of bread is doing its final rise and I'm slaving over a hot washer and dryer, trying to catch up with the domestic engineering aspect of my life. 

I  went down the wormhole of trying to find blogs about needle felting by machine... but realized there was  laundry waiting.  I have a Huskystar felting machine, felted wool and wool roving just waiting for me to get inspired to play with ... and strips to cut and sew for my Rose Challenge quilt.

Pizza Bandiera

Dough + toppings recipes from Vegan Planet.
I think I have finally landed on a page layout and  font colors that I am happy with.  Now to get on with the day!  There was frost on the rooftops and clear blue skies over western Washington this morning.  (That's the British in me, commenting about the weather, I think!)   

Magic Mirror...

Here's my mockup for my Rose Challenge Quilt.  I cut 3/4" strips of the fabrics I thought might work.  Then lopped them off at 3/4" 45-degree diamonds and arranged them on a piece of cardstock paper, stuck down with a gluestick.  Very fiddly.  (Memo to self:  make bigger mockup diamonds next time!)   By George, I think I've got it!   Looks like a bloomin' red rose to me, anyway:) I tried the silk tartan and it didn't make the cut for this part of the quilt...

I am going to watch the "Jan Krentz Teaches you to Make Lone Star Quilts" DVD that I produced just to remind myself of all Jan's neat tricks.  Even though I spent four happy days with Jan at her home studio making the DVD, I need a refresher course... which is why the DVD series is so cool.  It's there for me to pop in my computer or DVD player any time I want.  My brain is like a sieve these days for details. 


We have deer who come visit our street.  We think they live in the woods nearby.  Today the whole family were resting on our neighbor's lawn.   Papa deer only has one antler, but it doesn't seem to bother him!


Hello friends,

I plan to write a 'magnum opus' giant essay with footnotes and all that jazz, on the topic of homebirth. However, I just watched an amazingly beautiful birth video, and I can't NOT write a blog post about it now. So I'll write this now, but I promise when I'm done the big essay, I'll post it here as well. :-) I am not going to give all the specs and details in this post, I simply want to say how I feel about birth and homebirth, so please, if something doesn't seem argued well, it probably isn't. That doesn't mean there isn't an answer, I'm just searching my heart and pouring it out here right now. My research is done, I'm just not extricating it from my head at the moment. I'll save that for my essay-writing.

Homebirth. I first came across the idea maybe a year and a half or two years ago, somewhere online. It was totally new and bizarre to me, if you'll believe it, as my own birth was in a hospital, and I really never thought there was anything else to do but have your baby in the hospital. I began reading birth stories and researching this birthing method simply because it interested me. But enough with my research story.

What is birth? Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with the medical system, surgery, IV drips, medication, doctors, intervention, blood and guts, or terror and distress. In fact, the act of bringing a new life into the world is an entirely different thing, completely opposed to any and all thoughts of terror and distress. It is our business-like effort to make everything efficient and tidy that has made it so. Plus doctors kinda like money...but that's another story.

Though with pregnancy and the act of birthing does come some discomfort, yes, there is something so perfectly incredible and beautiful and gentle about it, that it makes me cringe that over the last century, so many mothers only have distressing memories of their childrens' births. Too often the good memories only begin when mother and baby come home. In fact, for too many years I also held a big grudge against the doctors who unnecessarily intervened in my own birth, and in the process my Mum almost died, and our family was left bereft of my incredible sister who has only had the opportunity to live within the pages of my journal.

Imagine this: Over the period of nine months, a tiny life grows inside a special, warm, protective place, all the while gaining a heartbeat, fingernails, eyelashes, tiny toes, a little nose, and finally, the day comes for this life to breathe air and be held in the arms of her mother. Over several hours, the mother's feelings intensify, and in the warmth of her home, surrounded by loved ones, perhaps in a tub of warm water, she allows every ounce of her being to work toward bringing this life forward. That moment of completion, and all the pain is forgotten, in that moment, she catches her own tiny baby, lifting her gently onto her bare chest, caressing the soft skin and crying over the miracle of life.

It happens every day. But all too often it doesn't happen. Women are not empowered with the knowledge that this kind of a birth is possible, and in most all pregnancies, advisable. It's that darned business attitude again, that believes that pregnancy is a disease and birth some sort of sci-fi surgery to remove the unwanted tumour, or something. It's scary. Birth should not be an assembly line process, which says 'get them out as quick as possible so the bed is free', it is a normal, natural, incredible part of life. In fact, it is one of the first building blocks of life, and to have that all-important moment blotted out by clinical intervention and usually-harmful 'safety' measures, is just sickening.

One day I hope to bear my own children. Until that day, I fear many people won't really take me seriously, but you know what? I don't care. I am going to continue to advocate natural birth, and all the blessings that come with it.

And so, with that, I leave you with a beautiful birth video. I have watched countless ones, and researched for hundreds of hours, but today I just want to leave you with this thought: Birth is normal.

I know this is kind of a funny kind of post for a 16-year-old's blog, but I am so passionate about it, so I just wanted to share a few of the thoughts that fly through my mind with you. It occupies many-a-moment for me. I promise to share more detailed research with you all sometime.

In case you want more information, there are thousands of sites out there, but this one, focusing specifically on unassisted birth, is fantastic:

A big thank you to Dionne for helping me figure out how to add the visitor counter to my blog. Also a big thank you to Melody for sharing her quilting designs.
Kevin needed more recipes tested, so I volunteered again. This time I tried a ginger cookie one. Colin was disappointed it wasn't chocolate -that man would eat broccoli if I covered it in chocolate. The cookies turned out great, but the recipe had some extra steps that weren't really needed. I streamlined the recipe for modern cooks. Personally, I don't mind the old recipes that have you do things the old way, ie sifting dry ingredients 4 times, etc, but I just like doing things the old way.

I rolled the cookies as directed, but then I did some the easy way and just made balls and dipped into sugar. They actually turned out better that way, moister.
It has been so cold this week. Today is the coldest by far. It was -35F this morning. You know it's cold when Celsius and Fahrenheit meet :) I feel so sorry for Colin having to work out in these temperatures. I've been working with Ella and her skating, Daddy made us a rink. She's really coming along. Daddy made Ella a stand to help her balance. It's worked out well:

Ella's even been trying to skate on her own. I'm so proud of my girl.

Ella is such a good Momma with her babies. She insisted on feeding Lucy her bottle before they could go to bed the other day. Ella always takes Lucy upstairs and tucks her into her little cradle before Ella hops in bed herself.

From Fat Free Vegan.

Remember Autumn's mushrooms?

I am working with shibori to create gatherings of mushrooms.  They are great when heated... and I don't mean strogonoff... Yes, I think this might blossom, burst... bud or whatever you call a flowering of mushrooms? It is certainly a surface that demands to be touched.

I continue to search for thin and soft fleece like I got from Britain.  Still not found any here in Calgary. 
Not much been going on however....
Image printed on normal aluminium foil which had been pleated and then painted with non porous ground
Image from Sale shop window - printed on brown paper, with white digital ground. Image appears glassy just like the glass window because of the highlights left white on the printout
My fascination with "Starbucks" continues.... or was it "Tim Horton's"   Golden gel medium and non porous ground

Porous glossy ground on brown paper  which had been previously creased up.. image of trees with snow believe it or not
Non porous ground on Aluminium sheet (recycled)
Same - image colour manipulated in Photoshop
Enlarge image to see the skin - non porous ground with Golden Gel medium, created then peeled off non-stick, baking paper - printed to (irregular) edge.... I love this piece and hope to work on similar - with stitchery

Yes, I do feel it is time to do some stitching