Finished Laying Tile in the main area



We had a busy day.  We finished laying tile in the main processing area.  We need to clean the spaces between the tiles now and prepare for the grout.  The vinyl tiles we laid earlier this year, before we were told that they would only accept ceramic tile or cement, are being ripped up.  What a pain it is and we thought we were done these rooms only to have to do it again.  Also we may need to do the trim again because in some areas the tiles are pulling it away from the walls.  We hope to start tiling the little room just off the processing area and the washroom tomorrow.  It will be so nice when all the cutting of these tiles are done.  The saw is incredibly loud and makes your head just rattle. 

The ice had the boat locked in this morning.  Andrew had to break free for someone got stuck over at Hay Island and gave them a ride back first thing this morning.  He said it was nice to be out on the water but it was quite rough on the ride back.  The guy who came back with him stood behind him all the way back trying to get out of the way of the spray and wind. 

We are not to sure if we will be able to get out fishing again this season.  All depends on the temperature and the amount of ice that is being collected out on the bay.  The wind for the next few days are calling to be quite strong. 

The boys were out skiing again today.  Enjoying all of new snow and it is still falling.  They have a race this Sunday.  They also have been invited to sing "O Canada" in Ojibway for Groundhog day.  Breakfast Television will be there.  Tuesday morning at 7 the boys are to be in Wiarton in the heart of Wiarton Willie's Celebration. 

We hope to make it to a market this week.  Things are very tight right now with little or no wiggle room.  We thought we finally were digging our way out but with this retiling, truck issues and new dead line with the inspector we feel we are back to square one and winter is not the best time to be in this situation.  We finally know the feeling of the hamster running on the wheel in its cage. 

Thankfully we have had some wonderful support from our customers and friends.  We also have had many generous donations like the ceramic tiles from Powell & Bonnell.  These tiles are beautiful and should hold up to the wear and tear of our normal days in the processing plant.  Thanks to all and hopefully we will be back to normal asap.
I have a friend of Scottish descent who lives up to the stereotypical image of the cheap Scotsman.   His ancestors would be more than proud of him.  I remind him that I was actually born in Scotland and while I love a bargain as much as the next person, I do not even come close to being as tight with my money as he.  He is a great source of entertainment for me.  I once saw him drop a couple of hotdogs off a barbeque and onto the grass at a public park.  The same grass that kids had just been running all over and  dogs had been squatting on to do their business.  I nudged the person next to me and bet that he would put them back on the barbeque.   He did.
It is a well known fact for those who have ever had an invite to his home, that a sweater and slippers are a must if you are to experience any level of comfort.  When he and his wife first moved into their new home, Ian and I were invited for dinner.  I took my slippers and wore an extra heavy sweater (it was winter).  Ian mocked but I didn't care, I knew what was coming.  Upon arrival at the house, our friend took us on the grand tour.  We found the main floor chilly but when we descended down into the basement, we could literally see our breath.  In one corner of the basement  sat a beautiful wood stove, lonely and forlorn just begging to be lit.  Sorry little wood stove, that would cost money not just in wood we were told, but if the rec room was to be warm, then his son's friends would come over to hang out and if his son's friends were there, chances were good that they would eat his food.  There was to be no heat in the basement.
Last week his wife held a baby shower in Kere's honour but I was not forgotten. There was a special note just for me left above the thermostat control.












He knew I would be the only one brave enough to actually touch the thermostat. My plan was to crank up the heat just as I was leaving but he made it home before I could do so.  That my friends is why I am able to blog about it tonight with all ten of my fingers intact.  As an aside... my mocking husband now brings slippers and wears sweaters to their home. They wear T-shirts to ours.




Hello all!  Here are some pictures from school.  Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?  :-D  Just spending some time at the book nook, which is a little place to get good drinks and get online.  I'm in in the choir at Bible School as my outreach, and this morning we sang at the Anglican church.  God is answering prayers left right and centre, and I am everyday amazed at His glorious grace.  I can't write a long post now, nor do I have a lot to say specifically, except that the Lord is GOOD!  :-D

God bless you all,
Sheila

My younger son gave me a nice Amazon.com gift certificate for Christmas. Here are the books I got! The first one about crochet motifs goes along with my latest obsession... the art of crochet. And it really is an art. This book goes beyond the granny motif and has many fanciful and lovely things for me to try hidden within its pages. Circles, hexagons, diamonds, rectangles and so forth! Even if I just look at the pretty pictures, I shall be happy.

I think I've got the granny square motif down pretty well. I used the pattern from Attic::24's blog I like the circular, rather floral-looking centers in her motif. She has wonderful tutorials filled with terrific close-up photographs of how to do things! She also has great and cheery explanations in plain English. So helpful. How interesting to find out that English crochet fans use different terminology for stitches and techniques than we do over here. I found a huge stash of yarn in my basement, all gathered before I had my hand surgery. So that's all been brought upstairs ready for me to attack it with various sizes of crochet hooks. I started with the knitting a few years ago, but that stuttered to an end because of pain in my hands. Well, that pain has been fixed, and now, for a bit of a change, I'm trying something new, yet old. My patchwork and fabric fondling have been ditched for now and the crochet bug has bitten me, big time! I will confess that I had fun using my yarn shop gift certificate to amplify my stash of bright colors for the granny squares!

The second book I got because simply robin mentioned it. I admire the photography and inspiring posts on her blog, so was grateful for her recommendation. The camera I use is full of bells and whistles that I haven't discovered yet. So I'm looking forward to starting a bit of study with that book to help me unlock the power of my fancy camera!

I do seem to have the attention span of a flea with my various "little hobbies." (My Husband once called my efforts at crafting that phrase. I'm happy to report he doesn't say that any more. I have trained him not to.) I'm all into the learning and collecting of the right tools and materials for my various arts and crafts. It's the doing of the work that I love.

P.S. A word of thanks to Lucy and to Robin for their blogs.








Restauranting is not the easiest thing when you're a vegan. Honestly, when it comes to my daily life I often forget that I'm "different". Veganism is just life in our house. It's only when I venture out of my house that I realize I'm a dietary minority and that my choices are strange to many other people.

We had dinner plans with some wonderful friends of ours on Friday night, and Jack Astor's was selected as the place. I looked through the online menu and learned that (like pretty much every other family restaurant) a garden salad and nachos-sans-cheese are pretty much the extent of vegan-friendly choices on the menu. I did see a couple of noodle dishes, so I called ahead to see if they were okay.

Unfortunately, they all had fish sauce in them, but the person I spoke to over the phone was VERY helpful and welcoming. He said he wanted to look at the menu more thoroughly, so he took my email address and sent me a message later in the afternoon, with dishes that were close to vegan-friendly and thus could be made vegan-friendly with a few minor substitutions. He even included a rice stir fry option that is not on the regular menu, but could be made with relative ease with items they have stocked in their kitchen.

While I don't think it is appropriate to apologize for being vegan, I do understand the difficulty many restaurants (chain or otherwise) have with accommodating us and so I expressed regret if I was causing him or his staff any extensive inconvenience. I received this email in return:

You do not need to worry about calling ahead, just ask the server for a vegetable stirfry with the appropriate modifications and it won't be an issue. It is not an inconvenience at all, and by no means is it difficult to figure out some suitable menu options for you, its actually quite fun digging deep into the ingredient list of every product (for a kitchen manager at least!)! Look forward to your visit tomorrow, thanks for emailing ahead!

And you know, his friendliness and welcoming attitude made my day.

So, we went on Friday night and I mentioned to the waitress that I had spoken to the kitchen manager and that he had said a veggie stir fry would not be problematic for the kitchen staff. She was very courteous as well, and returned to the table to clarify that the teriyaki sauce they use is suitable for vegans (it was!) rather than just using it.

As vegans, we often talk about the horrible restaurant experiences we have and so I thought it very important to share this success story. The eyerolls, the "what...you don't eat what?" comments are unfortunately more the rule than the exception. As a rule, I always call ahead when heading to a restaurant I am not uber familiar with, and I typically get the "Well, there's salad...". The Jack Astor's Kitchener location was the first to not only take the time to go through their menu in a detailed way, but they also went as far as offering something that is not a standard item on their menu to ensure that I felt comfortable.

And because restaurants themselves often only hear complaints, I fired off an email to the Jack Astor's head office, thanking them for their enthusiasm in accommodating me. I hope that they will consider including some vegan options as permanent menu items (the teriyaki dish is a great candidate!) but in the meantime I just wanted to reiterate how much I appreciated their hospitality. I can't guarantee this kind of treatment at all Jack Astor's locations, but I can confirm that the Kitchener location rose to the occassion and made sure I was comfortable and able to enjoy dinner with my friends. And so, I am giving the Kitchener, Ontario location of Jack Astor's the This is Vegan Seal of Approval with hopes that they will continue this positive attitude toward vegans and consider expanding their menu to provide more vegetable-based animal-free options.

Jack Astor's Bar & Grill
509 Wilson Ave
Kitchener, ON N2C 2M4
(519) 748-1604

Colourful Vegetable Bake



I always get so, so, so disappointed when recipes don't turn out. It's the way things go...not everything can be perfect and amazing all the time, nor would we want it to be because our recipe roster is already so extensive that we don't eat the same thing twice over the span of nearly three months. So, sometimes it's good when recipes are a fail because it means I can have seitan wingz sooner, although it is a letdown when you put a lot of time and effort into something.

The recipe for this casserole is found in Calciyum, which I have had great luck with in the past. I really have no idea what went wrong here because it sounded delicious in print form and it smelled delicious while it was baking...it was just missing something. I really wanted to like it, because it is full of so much variety and subsequent nutrition. Brussel sprouts, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, collard greens, etc. Crazy amounts of vitamins and nutrients packed into one casserole.

I think the problem was that it seemed really, really dry. It's held together by tofu and a little bit of soy sauce, and there are a few herbs involved too, but other than that there were really no flavour enhancers present in the recipe. I think if I were to try it again I would definitely give it a healthy dose of sriracha or something, to zip it up a bit.



This failure seriously has me sad. And nobody likes a Grumpus. So, Steven the Vegan is here to lighten the mood:

Deer Lawn Mowing Crew...

...Thank you for your interesting visit to my lawn yesterday. I'm glad you found the sweet green grass to your liking. Now you've given us an excuse not to get the mower out quite yet. Housekeeping note: please use the bathroom which is off to the side of the lawn rather than right in the middle of this green oasis.
PS. I do hope you guys aren't riddled with fleas. I noticed you flicking your ears and scratching your skin with your dainty hooves.


White Tailed Deer: It is too easy to label some creatures as pests, and to forget that all of Nature has a right to exist. It is not the deer's fault that we are building our homes on its traditional habitat. Deer are sometimes referred to as "edge" species, meaning they prefer to live where two or more habitats meet. As urban areas expand into the woods, the "edge" keeps moving deeper into the deer's traditional habitat. We owe them some accommodation for this. Deer are magnificent animals that we can learn to live with and enjoy with a little effort.




This project started late one Sunday night, with the glow of CNN lighting up the bedroom. In the context of philosophical queries about the nature of our world and the assumed existence of god that always seem to plague me when the biggest tragedies happen to the people who are already suffering the most (which seems to be pretty much all the time) and the subsequent feelings of helplessness that follow. Further followed by a frustration with some media outlets and their incessant spinning of stories, telling people not to contribute (because who knows where the money is going?) and saying that our money here in Canada (or in the US) needs to stay here for "our people". The arbitrary lines we draw between "our people" and "their people" are so disenchanting. The notion that compassion cannot transcend our border patrol is ridiculous.

Like everyone else I went to donate money, and then went for my daily dose of theppk.com where there were talks about vegan bake sales for earthquake relief in some of the bigger cities. Organizing a bake sale is not a reality for me at this time. I don't know any other vegans here in Kitchener (although I'm sure there are some - hello?) and an event like that was something I didn't have time to arrange and promote in the wake of my thesis defense. As such I decided to do my own little cupcake drive...something small, somewhat silly, but something nonetheless, so that I could get my hands busy and shake the feeling of uselessness.

I put up the post and dragged out my faithful companion - my pink Kitchenaid mixer - and got to work. And faithful she was, not giving me any trouble even though I worked her to the bone this past week:



Double chocolate and golden vanilla have been making their way around this hometown of mine for the past week, spreading the joy that only a vegan cupcake can bring while raising a few dollars for our friends who need it the most. I expected only a couple of responses from my Facebook and blog posts, but they just kept rolling in. Me and Pinky (the first sign of severe mental illness - you begin naming your kitchen appliances) and Paul too, we kept working away in a flurry of flour, sugar and unsweetened cocoa.

KW, together we raised $320.00 for the Free the Children Haiti Earthquake relief fund. We did this by sustaining only minor damage to our wallets and waistlines.



No animals were harmed in the pursuit of this project, although this human did sustain some minor injuries. I tripped and fell on someone's front porch while making one of my final deliveries, shielding the cupcake box with my body so that the sweets were safe and sound in my clutch, which in turn resulted in my knee being ripped open to the point where it currently needs FOUR bandages to hold it together. Because you see, I am a consummate jackass who trips and falls on a daily basis and should probably have my head examined for underlying neurological disorders. However, remnants of my favourite gray cotton tights on your front porch are but a small price to pay for door-to-door cupcake delivery, yes?

I want to thank everyone who participated, those who donated and bought cupcakes and those who spread the word. I would love nothing more than to continue Project: Cupcakes Care and raise even more money for Haiti, but I am a bit worn out at this point, jumping from my major life's work (my master's thesis) to a new project in a mere matter of hours and so I think I need to rest. And then determine what exactly it is I'm going to do with my life now that I'm done grad school (send your suggestions to hellomarycakes@hotmail.com).

In the meantime, I hope you will continue to consider how you can help those in Haiti and I will do the same. Compassion is such a cool thing, because it means you give, but it also gives back to you. Cupcaking left me so distracted and exhausted that the philosophical and ideological debates that generally go on in my head on a daily basis went silent under the purr of Pinky's trusty motor. This project was very small, but it got me out there doing something instead of just thinking about how horrible things are. I'm going to chase that sense of awareness for awhile and hopefully find some other volunteer projects I can get involved with.

As if things weren't stressful enough.

We went to drive the boys to town for school and the truck had died.  Not sure if it can be fixed and no way to find out what could be wrong with it.  We have a few ideas but laying on the ground in the rain and slush doesn't sound good.  Even if we have to replace something minor it is 27km drive one way into town to get it.  So the boys enjoyed it for they got a day off school.  But they missed a day of skiing with their class.
After a couple of hours trying to fix the truck, Andrew and I went back to tiling and quietly pondered the situation.  Still 12 hours later, we haven't come up with a solution.  Until we come up with a solution we won't be down to the city.  Even normal errands now are going to be a challenge.  Living in the bush is nice but we are not that close to banks, stores, etc. 
This is the straw that we knew that could break the camels back.  We had hoped to make it two more weeks but the truck I guess had different ideas. 
We are off to bed early tonight and hopefully after a good nights sleep we will come up with something. 
Hello friends!  I know on the last post it says there should be a picture, and there isn't, and also that post might have been posted twice.  Oops!  I can't access blogger from Bible School since they have wisely limited the internet access to email, travel sites for booking flights that some people need to get home, and banking, and that's about it!  In any case, that's why my blog posting is weird, because I can post to blogger via email, but I haven't worked all the bugs out, and of course, I can't check my blog to see if it worked.  I also tried posting pictures this way before, and it worked fine, but now it won't let me. I'll try again in a few days.  :-)

In other Bible-School-ish news, am working on my study project for Haggai, and enjoying it very much.  It's a lot of work, but it's worth it!!!  Maybe I'll post it on here when I've presented it to my fellow students.  I've made some friends, or at least people I can talk to, and every day has its ups and downs.  God is good though, and through it all, He is teaching me and guiding me in ways I would never have guessed!  He wants my total surrender, and I am so glad, because I was failing miserably at trying to run my own life! 

I went to a new church on Sunday that was absolutely fabulous.  There is someone here who lives about 2 1/2 hours away from that church when he's not at Bible School, and he intends to drive that distance when he goes home, just so he can attend there.  It's absolutely TINY, and the attendance topped at about 30 people and the music wasn't that great, but everything was so sincere!  I didn't feel like I was at a performance, I felt like I was in a meeting, and that I was part of it, and that we were just a bunch of believers in Christ, gathered to praise His name and give Him glory.  That was wonderful!  The message was so humbling as well, and really spirit-lead.  Awesome stuff.

Anyway, supper is in 45 mins, and I need to be out of here in half an hour to get there on time, and I want to finish my study project in that time!

Hugs all,
Sheila
(Note: This was written January 19, I couldn't get it to post from me email because I had the wrong address.  I'm new to this email posting thing, but I can't access blogger from Bible School since we have limited internet, so yes.  That's the way it is.  :-) )

Hello there friends!  Above is a picture of my bed here at school, on the first day.  It's usually slightly messier.  :-)  In any case, I thought I'd make a quick update on myself!  Sorry for the long delay in posting, but I wasn't able to get to my email, and we can't access much else from school.  We've been learning so much!  The first week of school we studied Joshua, and last week it was 2 Corinthians and Philippians, which was phenomenal.  Joshua was neat because you can see all the amazing parellels between what God did during the time of Joshua's leadership and our walks with Christ now. It's very exciting!  Philippians and 2 Corinthians were convicting in different ways.  I was very convicted about sacrificial living, suffering, and God's timing.   He is so good!

The first week was very difficult, because I came in halfway through the year and everyone else already knew each other, but it's getting better.  I don't have any best friends, but that's just as well, because this is a time to focus on Christ, not on people.  Letting Him work in my life is what's needed in this time.  It's so amazingly freeing to be in total surrender to His will for my life, not to have to figure out what to do or how to run my life.  It is amazing.

Class is soon and I want to read my Bible a bit first, so I think I'll go. 

God bless you all!
Lots of hugs!
Sheila

--
-------

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Jesus, in Matthew 11:28

www.thepianistshands.blogspot.com

www.windy-covers.blogspot.com
Another Monday, another plan         :)

Just 11 months till Christmas, are you making plans yet??

Weather has changed here today and we are stuck in the house.  It is around 3C (37F) and everything has turned into a skating rink.  Colin isn't taking the pigs to the butcher shop until this afternoon, in hopes that the sanders get out soon.  Dull and miserable.  I'd take cold and sunny any day.

Raunchy Red Lentil Soup



I received a dutch oven for Christmas and since then have been obsessively making soups. Obviously cast iron dutch ovens are great for the oven but I love the way soup comes out when I use mine. Don't ask my why. I'm sure science can explain it, or maybe it's all just in my head (as so many things are). Either way, I will go on the record as saying that the dutch oven vastly improved my soup repertoire.

I make a lot of lentil soups, with rainy day lentil soup as the household favourite. As great as it is, I was also looking for a simpler middle-of-the-week-it's-lunch-what-do-we-EAT?! lentil soup.

When it came time to switch the calendar to 2010 I found Sarah Kramer's GO VEGAN calendar online at Vegans Love Lava. Because I am pretty much in love with her cookbook How it All Vegan (mostly because it gave me vegan peppermint patties but there are also many more goodies between its covers!) I decided that this was going to be our calendar for the year. Besides, I wanted to give Vegans Love Lava my business, as they are based out of Guelph, Ontario and so they are my neighbours (and sweet as pie when you bombard them with questions!).

The calendar is cool because it offers tips on being vegan as well as a different recipe for each month of the year. This raunchy red lentil soup is January's recipe and it is most definitely something we will make again. It's raunchy because it's SPICY! - the lentils are zipped up with a jalapeno. I also threw in a healthy dose of a very expensive but insanely amazing hot sauce that we picked up at a gourmet hot sauce store a couple months ago and use VERY sparingly because it may as well be liquid gold for what it cost us. The recipe makes for a perfect lunchtime serving, just enough for two people to have along side of a couple toasted tomato sandwiches.

I haven't looked at February's recipe yet - I think it's more fun to be surprised when you turn the calendar (I am a very simple creature).

Burrr!




Thought I would share some more pictures.  This is just outside my back door, where I hang my laundry in the summer.  You can see my gas tank for my stove  :)  The honeysuckle bush is just gorgeous in the sunshine -just like crystal.  It's very cold today -25C/-13F.  But it is so nice to see the sunshine.  It was OVFC delivery day this morning.  Colin said it was warmer IN the freezer than out.  I'm glad he was free to come and help.  I hate having to lug all those coolers around when it's this cold.

Beautiful



I hope this picture shows just how beautiful things are today.  Beautiful but very,very cold.  Everything is covered in frost.  I love when the trees and everything are like this.  Even the hydro lines look beautiful in the sunshine  :)   I feel sorry for Colin having to work out in this today.  It always seems he has outside work on the really cold day.  I'm staying in and baking (after I get some laundry started).

Cashew Baked Tofu with Winter Squash Rings and Rice



I am in the process of juggling working at the clinic and coordinating Project: Cupcakes Care but I thought I would take a moment and share a picture I randomly found on my hard drive, of a meal I made nearly a month ago. I don't know how I possibly forgot about it, as it was one of the best dinners we've had in awhile. You can tell my mind has been all over the place lately.

I'd never baked tofu before (which is weird, because why wouldn't you?! It's so easy) and I'd never used cashew butter before either. This dish was definitely a venture into the unknown but well worth the risk because it was awesome. The recipe is found in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan and the author recommended pairing it with her recipe for winter squash rings. Who am I to argue?

The thing is, I used a butternut squash and so aside from the few slices cut at the very bottom, they were less like winter squash rings and more like winter squash hockey pucks (man...how Canadian am I?). I did take very good care to ensure the two ring-like slices I managed to salvage from the very bottom of the squash survived long enough for picture purposes. "Winter squash rings" just sounds a bit better than "winter squash hockey pucks", no? Anyway, the rings/pucks were smothered in herbs (including fresh rosemary from the rosemary plant my grandma gave me and I still haven't managed to kill!) and while the tofu was very good, the squash was crowned winner of this meal.

And as a reminder to those of you in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, you still have about 23 hours to get your order in for Project: Cupcakes Care and support the Haitian earthquake relief effort through Free the Children. I'm very excited about the outpouring of interest and support, and made my first few deliveries yesterday evening. My first contributor liked them so much she's ordered a second dozen (thank you Jenn!). Check out my post and see how you too can enjoy the deliciousness of a vegan cupcake while helping out with a very important cause.
I'd had a mammogram before so I knew what to expect.  A technician would hand me a gown, I'd go into the little changing cubicle, take off my top and bra, put on the gown with the ties at the front, and then come out to the mammogram machine.  My breast would be placed on a cold metal ledge by the technician while I stood right up against the machine with my one arm raised high above my head, the other arm trying to clutch the gown closed across my other exposed breast.  The machine would then lower a clear acrylic plate down on top of my breast and squeeze tight, and by tight I mean like a death grip.  My breast would then do it's best Scottish, chocolate chip pancake impression. (cheap Scots only put one chip in per pancake) It's at this point that the technician goes round the corner, tells you "take a deep breath and don't move".  The machine takes a picture, another button is pushed, and the machine releases it's vice like grip on one of your twins.  Yep, I had done it once before, no biggie, so when my doctor suggested I go for another mammogram a couple of years later just as a check up, I never gave it a second thought.
 I showed up at the hospital at the appointed time and was told to have a seat and wait for the technician to come and get me.  A few minutes later I looked up from the magazine I was reading and noticed coming down the hall in her blue scrubs, the woman I had run against for PTA president.  She had desperately wanted the position whereas I could have cared less... in fact, I had only run because the principal of the school had asked me to as a favour. ( I think he was afraid of her.)  She was rather austere and rarely smiled.  I won the election, she was not impressed, and she had come to every PTA meeting that year it seemed just to make trouble.  When I saw her walking down the hall (I had forgotten she worked at the hospital) I quickly glanced back down at my magazine, avoiding eye contact at all cost.   She stopped in front of me and you can imagine my horror when I realized she was THE technician.  The conversation went something like this.
Her (not smiling): "Are you ready to come in?" (No hello, how are you?)
Me: "Ummm... are you doing the mammogram?"
Her (still not smiling): "That's my job, so yes!"
Me: "Is there someone else that can do it?" ( I mean honestly, would you want your arch enemy handling your private parts?)
Her (Overtly unimpressed with my questions):  "The only other person available is a man.  Would you rather have him do it?"
Trapped!  If I said yes, then a rumour might start floating round the community that I had asked a man to handle my breasts (albeit innocently) or at the very least that I had preferred a man over a woman to do perform the procedure but saying no meant that she had full exposure to my breasts and I was definitely not comfortable with that.
Me (with great trepidation): "I guess I'll have you do it"
It was the first time that day she smiled at me.
I followed her into the room, changed, presented myself at the machine, and cringed as she grabbed my breast and placed it on the glass. How humiliating.  She fiddled with some buttons and the machine closed down on my breast... tight... extra tight.   "hmmm" I heard her mutter.  I could hear her playing around with the machine but trapped like I was, I could not see what was going on.  It seemed to be taking a long time.
"There seems to be a problem with the mammography machine" she informed me. "I'll need to get some help."
She had the male technician come in to have a look.  He fiddled around for a couple of minutes without success, left the room and came back with a maintenance guy.  He also had no luck and another maintenance guy was called in and yet another.   They all seemed oblivious to me, still stuck with my breast flattened in the machine, arm still raised high above my head.
It appeared that the machine would not easily be fixed, the problem now ( I could hear the discussion) was how to get me out of it.  The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by the men as they struggled with the acrylic plate, straining to lift it enough for me to slip out of its grip.  Free at last, I quickly changed and tried to sneak out of the room unnoticed.  "You'll need to rebook your appointment at the front desk" I heard her say in a rather loud voice.  I turned, the men all looked up from their work, and for the second time that day, I saw her smile.

Splendid Sunrise

After many misty dark grey mornings in the Pacific Northwest, this breathtaking sunrise vista moved my soul yesterday.
I forgot to tell you where I got the great idea for Ella's tutu.  It's no-sew and was super easy.  I did the whole thing in about an hour.  The hardest part was folding the tulle so I could cut it with my rotary cutter.  Once the pieces are cut, the knotting takes no time.  Head over to Tutus Bows and More for clear instructions and great pictures.



Ella loved wearing her new tutu to dance class.  I think I've started a revolution though.  When the other mothers found out how little it cost, they complained to the dance teacher about the price we had to pay for their recital outfits.  I agree.  How cute would Maddie and the 2 Ella's look in matching tutus?  They're 3&4, do they really need expensive, cateloge costumes???  But Miss Christie Anne said they were already ordered and there was nothing we could do.

Ella is so flexable.  At one point in the warm up, she had her legs straight out to the side!  I don't think my hips have ever moved in that direction.  I used to be flexible (in my younger, thinner days) but she's just crazy flexible  :)  


I'm not sure how they are going to look at the recital.  I think one of the girls are going to have to be on stage with them.  Maddie is very shy and my Ella has a hard time remembering what she's supposed to be doing.  I'm not sure what will happen if they are just put out on stage.

Pacific West Quilt Show...



I’ve added another activity to my life. I’m going to be doing the Corporate fundraising for the 2011 Pacific West Quilt Show. Last week I attended, with the board members of the Association of Pacific West Quilters, the signing of 3 year’s worth of contracts to produce this wonderful show at The Greater Tacoma Convention and Visitors’ Center. We got such a welcome from the City of Tacoma -- the new Mayor showed up to the signing event and welcomed the event to her city. The facility is almost brand new and is a gorgeous example of how a public building can be a work of art in itself. Oh, and I’m writing press releases and creating press kits for the organization too as it launches into a new chapter of its existence. There’s lots of schmoozing up ahead for me. But I enjoy that stuff. There’s a ton of money to be raised, so it will be a great challenge to my skills of persuasion! My English charm and smarm might be helpful as I go forward with this project.



Menu Plan Monday -18 January 2010



This week's menu is ready.  I'm trying a number of new recipes this week.  I'll let you know how they turn out.
I'm feeling better today.  I've finally got the Christmas decorations put away, the house still isn't put back to order, but it's better.  Three loads of laundry are done and put away.  I've been busy cooking and freezing.  I even got Ella's tutu done.  I went with the no sew version because I can't figure out how to make my gathering foot work.  At this point I'm not even sure it's the right foot for this machine.  Needless to say, Ella is very excited to wear it to dance class tonight.
It is easy, in such devastating times, to be overcome with grief, frustration, confusion and helplessness and the feeling that there is nothing you can do.

As it turns out, there is something you can do.

There's just one question and a simple yes or no answer will suffice.

Do you like cupcakes?!

If the answer is yes, continue reading. If the answer is no, it begs the question of what exactly is wrong with you, but that is neither here nor there.

If you are among the awesome who love a good cupcake, I am selling cupcakes with 100% of the proceeds going toward the Free the Children Earthquake Relief Fund (http://www.freethechildren.com/). Free the Children is an amazing organization focusing on not only immediate relief, but long-term assistance to help Haiti get back on its feet.

I am happy to cover any and all ingredient, supply and equipment costs so that every penny you contribute goes STRAIGHT to those who need it the most (plus I get to lick the spoons when all the cupcakes are packaged up and sent off, so it's win-win here).

I am also able to deliver straight to your door if you live within Kitchener-Waterloo. If you are in Cambridge, message me and we can perhaps find a halfway point. Unfortunately I'm unable to go any further than that. There will be no charges for any of this. Again, all of the proceeds go to the earthquake relief fund. If you donate $10, exactly $10 goes into the little piggy bank that eventually finds its way to Free the Children. You are essentially donating money to help our friends in Haiti, and I'm giving you cupcakes as a thank you.

Choose between DOUBLE CHOCOLATE and GOLDEN VANILLA, both topped with a fluffy buttercream frosting and can be yours in the following quantities:

1) The Delicious Duo (2 cupcakes) - $5

2) The Saucy Six (6 cupcakes) - $10

3) The Divine Dozen (12 cupcakes) - $15

These cupcakes are dairy and nut free. Please advise if you have any special dietary concerns or allergies. I am also able to make gluten free cupcakes at special request, in quantities of 6 and 12.

If you would like to place an order, please do so by FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2010 at 10am. Cupcakes will be delivered over the weekend, or at a time specified by your convenience. Comment here, or drop me an email at hellomarycakes@hotmail.com.



Double Chocolate!



Golden Vanilla!


It may not change the dire circumstances plaguing Haiti today (and in the years to come, no doubt), but it's a little something and progress is built upon a bunch of little somethings.

ANOTHER FUNNY STORY

Years and years ago there was a British sitcom "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em".  The main character was Frank.  He was clumsy, well meaning, accident prone, and often found himself in awkward situations.  My husband took to calling me Frank soon after I met him.  Like one of my friends said "If it's going to happen to anyone, it's going to happen to you."  I wouldn't say that I am accident prone or even all that clumsy but I do seem to find myself in situations that are just... well... awkward.  Take last week for instance.  I was in a fast food restaurant with three of my children and a friend. I ordered a chicken sandwich with accompanying fries and drink and we all sat down at the table and proceeded to eat.   It was a perfectly normal situation.
 Directly across from us, sat two men eating their dinner.  Now, I am not being judgmental (well maybe I am) but these guys were not the kind of men you would expect to see this close to the big city.  The word "Deliverance" should conjure up enough of an image but just to be sure you get it, I'll tell you that the clothing they wore was pretty tatty and dirty but had nothing on the hair they were sporting.  I did not want to make eye contact.  We busily chatted about the movie we had just seen (Avatar, which was amazing) and I forgot all about the men... that is until I noticed that the mayo from my sandwich was leaking out at the bottom.  I flipped my sandwich over and slowly licked up the side of it so it didn't get all over my hands.  Just as I reached the top of my sandwich with my tongue, I raised my eyes and met with the gaze of one of the "deliverance" guys.  He smiled at me.  I just about choked as I realized that  the guy thought I was flirting with him in a very suggestive way. This is why Ian calls me Frank.
Frank




Deliverance Guys
Today I attended a meeting at my church where the main topic of discussion was whether or not to hold an outdoor Christmas Pageant this coming December.  This had been an annual event for a number of years but had slowly petered out.  At its peak, it was held three or four nights in a row and had included live animals.  I guess it was quite the production but I had never witnessed or taken part in it as the last year they held the pageant was the same year our family moved here.  I will recount the story as told to me today by one of those involved.  He is not given to exaggeration and others who were present confirmed its veracity.

A donkey was borrowed from a neighbor's farm. Apparently, it was not a well behaved animal.  The young lady portraying Mary was assured though that all would be well and at the appointed time climbed atop of the donkey which took a few steps then promptly bucked her off.  Mary landed unceremoniously upside down in the snow, dress up over her head. One of the wise men (the man who shared this story) grabbed the donkey before it took off and did any more damage.  Having a farm himself and having raised horses, he related how the disciplining of large animals required swift action with a fair amount of force.  A horse (or a donkey in this case) is not going to respond to a slight smack on the backside and a telling off so he said he pulled his arm back and punched it as hard as he could in the snot which just happened to be the exact same time as the director cued the lights on what was supposed to be Mary making her way by donkey to Bethlehem.

They had double the attendance the next night.




.


So, Friday at 3pm was my (dun dun DUN!) oral thesis defense. A defense is the culmination of several years of study and field research presented to a committee of professors and subsequent begging and pleading (in the most professional way) for your Master's degree so that you can finally get your life back. So, several weeks of preparation (and several years of research) leading to the most stressful 2.5 hours of my academic career. I have no idea what happened there...it was a pure Will Ferrell in Old School moment where I blacked out but must have got something right because they all signed off on my thesis! Hurrah! I had to complete a few minor revisions over the weekend, but other than that I was done like dinna!

Speaking of dinna, that kind of achievement warrants not having to cook. And so, on Friday night we headed out to Zen Gardens for a celebratory feast.

There used to be a location here in town, but sadly it closed a couple of years ago. Thankfully, there's another location a couple towns over that isn't necessarily convenient, but is close enough for a treat now and again. It's a vegetarian restaurant, but most options are vegan...and I love seeing this on a menu in a town where most restaurateurs stare at you sideways when you say you're vegan:



To say we stuffed our faces is the understatement of the year. I may have unbuttoned my pants when we got back to the car afterwards. May.

The thing with Zen Gardens is that you want to order every single thing off the menu. It is impossible to commit to just one meal, especially since it's not like it's around the corner and somewhere we go once a week.

So, we diversified...essentially ordered an unnecessary quantity of appetizers and meals, spread them about the table and sampled away. Here is a very low-quality (the restaurant is very dimly lit) picture journey of our meal:



Soy chick'n balls with a mango ginger sauce.



Proof that there is a god, and yes s/he is vegan.



Seitan platter!



Sauce flavours: teriyaki, sweet and sour, curry and black bean



Steamed dumplings



Steamed BBQ buns



Very poor quality picture, but so so so good.



Soy-ham fried rice - sweet, spicy and savoury all at the same time, so so so good!



We ate a lifetime's worth of soy, but it was a celebration and what is life without a little unnecessary indulgence now and again. A celebration several years (and many tears) in the making warrants a bit of excessiveness, no?

Zen Gardens
65 Water St. N
Cambridge, ON N1R 3B4
(519) 620-8809
top